No business can thrive without customers. You must, therefore, learn how to treat them well. With so many options available to customers both online and offline, it has become challenging to land the few available customers. You have to deal with so much competition, and it is, therefore, essential that you apply all the tips necessary to keep them and reduce customer waiting time.
One of the most frustrating things that many customers face is waiting time. It leads to an overall bad experience if you are not able to fulfill the customer expectations within a specific time. With the growth of the internet, one disgruntled customer can bring down your business to its knees. Bad news spreads like wildfire on the digital space, and you can not afford to frustrate your customers in any way.
Let us see some of the ways you can reduce customer waiting time to enhance the customer experience.
1. Be Clear And Honest With Regards To Expectations
Many people are guilty of trying to manage their customers by not telling them the truth. It is not uncommon to hear a service provider say something will be ready within a short time, even though they know it will take so much longer.
Think about the days you have taken your car to the mechanic, who promises you that your vehicle will be ready in one hour. You, therefore, decide to stick around only to find yourself still waiting two or three hours later. The result is complete frustration, and the more time passes, the angrier you get.
Now, put yourself in your customer’s situation, and imagine how much you frustrate them when you are not honest with them.
Once you set the expectations, you must ensure that you meet them and in the best-case scenario, exceed them. A good tip is to under-promise and over-deliver. If, for example, you are sure that you will take 2 hours to do something, tell the customer it’ll be ready in 3 hours. At the end of 2 hours, you will call them for their items or service. Your customers will feel like you have gone out of your way to take care of them.
It helps when you benchmark expectations against what is happening in the industry.
If you are in the beauty industry, for example, and your competitors will do a manicure and pedicure in under 2 hours, that is where you should benchmark yourself.
If you offer the services in 30 minutes, your customers may feel that you will not do a good job. On the other hand, you take 3 to 4 hours, they will feel that you are taking up too much of the time. Your business portfolio should have such information so that the customers know what to expect.
Many people do not realize that if they communicate with the customer, they will avoid so many issues. There are situations when you will not be able to deliver as per expectation, but keeping quiet does not help the situation.
The customer is better off knowing that there will be a delay, or you cannot deliver their order. Make sure you handle the situation well and to not get angry even if the customer does. Apologize profusely, and do all you can to meet your end of the bargain.
Communicating with the customers also means that you give them relevant information that will make transacting with you easier. For example, you will find some organizations spend a lot of time explaining their processes to their customers. Their websites will, for example, have a chart showing how long their services take, shipping information, among others.
Use your blog pages to take the customers through some of the processes so that they have a better understanding of them. Also remember to optimize your website for mobile, so that the customer can access the website information wherever they are.
3. Invest In Some Entertainment
Have you ever called a call center and they put you on hold, but only hear silence once they do? You will find yourself saying “hello, hello” over and over again because you are not quite sure the other person is still there. Or have you ever gone to an office and there is no magazine to read, the seats are uncomfortable, and no one seems to care that you are waiting.
One of the first things you need to do when you have a business is to think about how to make the waiting time more bearable. Some offices will have a television set, piped music, magazines or newspapers, among others so that visitors do not get bored. Invest in an automated voice for your telephone; it gives you a chance to market your business inexpensively.
You must, however, ensure that you do not bore your callers to death with hard-sell language. Combine some music with the messaging to break the monotony.
4. Have A Proper Queuing System
Having a proper queuing system will help avoid frustration and will help the lines move faster. The rules would basically be first in first out, with the exception of the pregnant, disabled, and old.
If you have people who keep on cutting the lines, you will have to deal with angry customers. You can automate the processes by giving people tickets and serve them as per the tickets. Invest in some seats so that people do not spend long hours on their feet as they wait for you to help them.
Once they reach the counter, make sure that the team serves the customers fast. It is all about creating the perception that you are doing your best to take care of them in the shortest time possible. Ensure your team has the right knowledge and can communicate well with the customers at all times.
A smile and a thank you to your customers will go a long way in keeping them happy enough to forget that they had to wait in line for some time.
5. Consider Self Service
Self-service allows customers to cut down on waiting time buying being able to do some of the functions themselves. You can use live chat, self-service web kiosk, self-serve, and checkout, among others, to serve our customers.
Research shows that as many as 40% of respondents prefer self-service for a company they have been consulting with.
There is something about self-sufficiency that customers like. Another 88% report that would rather use live chat than make a phone call.
You must ensure that you have a responsive website with quick loading pages so that the customer does not face any frustration when using the self-service aspects. Consider the layout and design for easy navigation.
Ensure that there is always someone on the other end to respond to any queries promptly. While technology can significantly ease many processes, you can never replace the human touch. If someone does not get the answers they require from your website, they will still need human assistance.
Platforms such as WordPress have fantastic themes and plugins that will make the user experience on your website so much better.
6. Give Other Options Such As Call Back
The callback option is an excellent idea, especially when you get very many telephone calls. Instead of putting someone on hold for an indeterminate period, you can let them know that someone from your team will call them back as soon as possible. It is, however, critical that you keep your word and get back to the customer as soon as you possibly can.
7. Have A Good Understanding Of Your Processes
If you do not have a proper understanding of the processes and how to run them efficiently, you will not be able to take care of your customers well. Look at the workflow in its entirety and see what factors may lead to a delay in responding to your customers.
Another important aspect is to consider whether you have enough staff members to handle the number of customers you interact with daily. Ensure you have sufficient staff to handle customers during peak times. If understaffing is your issue and you cannot afford to hire more people, then you should invest in the right technology.
Customers do not care whether you have enough people working for you or not; all they want at the end of the day is excellent service.
You must also understand customer behavior so that you respond appropriately. Investing in the right CRM tools will help in collecting relevant information that you can then use to your advantage.
8. Carefully Listen To What Your Customers Have To Say
Customers give businesses a lot of feedback, but unfortunately, few business owners actually listen. Customers give comments, offer suggestions, ask questions, and give ratings, among others. All these are an excellent indicator of what your customers actually want.
You need to be able to see what your customers have to say and use the information to improve upon your business and how you interact with them. Use your blog pages on your website to share articles and ask for feedback on the same. You could target particular areas of concern so that you get a better understanding of how your customers feel.
Whoever is handling the digital platforms must have the relevant training on how to treat customers. If, for example, a customer expresses themselves in anger, it would not help the situation if the customer relationship agent responds in the same way. Invest in training and staff members and equip them with the right resources to do their jobs well. It helps when you have a guide book on how to treat customers.
Any customer-facing agent must refer to the guidelines within the book at all times. It allows for consistency in behavior and messaging at all times.
9. Be Careful About Your Marketing Language
Sometimes, in the excitement of getting out marketing material, you may not really think about the messaging you are sending out. Since you want to sound better than your competitors, you may make promises that you will never be able to deliver on.
You may, for example, guarantee that you will do same-day delivery, but because you have to depend on other people, it doesn’t happen the way you thought it would.
You can, for example, not determine how the courier company will work because they also have their schedules. So since you already promised the customer that they will have their goods the next day, it leads to annoyance and frustration, which will impact your business.
10. Never Drop The Ball
You may have heard the phrase ‘victim of your own success’ and wondered how success could be a bad thing. Well, if you offer a certain level of service to our customers, they will always expect it every time they come to you. The day you are not able to deliver as per their expectations, you will run into problems. You must ensure that once you set a particular bar with regards to service, you maintain it at all times.
Unfortunately, the modern customer can be very unforgiving and will have no problem moving on to your competitor the day you drop the ball.
Keeping customers happy is critical to the success of any business. One sure way to annoy and frustrate your customers is to keep them waiting for their goods or services. Yet, with a few techniques, you can reduce customer waiting time by managing their expectations. It then becomes a win-win situation for everyone. Communicate with the customers and do not make any promises you cannot deliver.
Give customers a pleasant experience when they come to your premises right from the waiting room when they will finally talk to a representative. In this digital age, it can take very little to cause irreparable damage to your business. Making customers wait can lead to frustration, and you do not want to put out that fire. Exceeding the customer’s expectations should, therefore, be your priority at all times.