If you're in the business of selling products and services, a content and loyal customer is gold. However, as technology-enhanced, real-time communication grows, a dissatisfied customer is a ticking time-bomb that can do significant damage to your reputation.

Leading integrated business solutions provider, Nashua, recently completed a comprehensive customer service survey to find out just how it measures up in the eyes of their customers. The results revealed interesting insights, as well as an impressive score of 77%. Drawing on their own knowledge and feedback from customers, Nashua has identified seven key steps to improving customer service:

1. Choose the right medium

It's vital to know when to use technology-based services and when to rely on human interaction. An online form or automated response might work for a customer who's looking for efficiency and a quick-fix, but someone who's desperately seeking consolation, advice or assistance won't react well to a machine. Train service agents to know when which form of service is most appropriate.

2. Streamline consultancy

Working with one consultant is invaluable for customers. One point of contact simplifies exchange, makes problem solving efficient and decreases frustration levels. This system also allows consultants to build strong and lasting relationships with clients.

3. Reward valuable customers

Tailored services for long-standing clients, as well as new and existing 'big spenders' is a useful value-add – whether it's additional or personalised services or exclusive benefits. This can result in significant growth and investment from the customer's side.

4. Listen well

'Customer service' often drums up images of sub-par call centres, but valuable support can be offered in so many ways. Social media, if used properly, can be a powerful tool in gaining insights from customers to improve service. Feedback is never diluted and happens in real-time, which is a huge asset, if managed properly.

5. Specialised support

Effective communication is the first tenant of great customer service. This means if your customer service support team isn't speaking the same language as your customers – literally and figuratively – you'll never be offering the best service possible. Make sure your support team is tailored according to region, accents and even vernacular, to ensure a fruitful exchange.

6. First-time fix

As far as possible, make sure customers' issues are resolved the very first time they complain, so clients experience the least downtime and maximise efficiency. First Time Fix (FTF) is a sure-fire way to get repeat business.

7. Follow up

A customer scorned once is dangerous, a customer scorned twice is fatal – and they will not hesitate to make their plight known. Even after the resolution of an issue, there should always be some kind of follow-up communication to check the problem hasn't returned, and the client is happy. It never goes amiss.

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