13 Steps Business Owners Should Take To Inject Humanity Back Into Customer Service

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POST WRITTEN BY Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council.

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

As companies grow and expand, it’s natural that many elements become more automated and processes more “efficient”—but this can sometimes also lead to customers becoming numbers on a graph. In order to ensure that you maintain your loyal customer base, as well as gain new customers, it’s important to retain some of that humanity your business started out with.

And there’s no better place to inject more humanity than in your customer service efforts. When business owners focus on customer service, they can ensure that their customers are well taken care of and that, when issues arise, they feel their voices are heard.

To help you stay on the right track as you grow—and avoid thinking of your customers as statistics—follow these suggested steps from 13 Forbes Coaches Council experts.

Forbes Coaches Council members share their tips for keeping the humanity in your customer service as your business grows.
Forbes Coaches Council members share their tips for keeping the humanity in your customer service as your business grows. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS

1. Create An Experience 

It is not just about the product or service you provide, but about the customer experience you create. Work to create an experience that makes the customer feel special. Know their name, remember their preferences and send thank you notes showing appreciation for their business. Set these up as part of the process, so as your company grows you are still able to provide that special touch. – Tameika DevineThe Possibilities Institute

2. Focus On ‘HEART’ 

It’s not what you say but how you say it and whether or not it comes from your heart. Being genuine, sincere and showing your customers you truly care is the key to great customer service. Try the “HEART” technique when a customer calls to complain. H: Hear them out and let them vent; E: Empathize genuinely with their feelings; A: Acknowledge the problem; R: Respond clearly; and T: Timeline for resolution. – Gregg WardThe Gregg Ward GroupForbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

3. Meet With Clients Quarterly 

Meet with your clients quarterly, in person. Find out what is working and what isn’t working. How can you further assist with other resources in your rolodex or can you be a sounding board? Challenge them and extend their possibilities in thinking. Provide them with “brain food” to deepen your relationship as an invaluable resource. – Shelley SmithPremier Rapport

4. Connect With Customers Outside Of The Sale 

Having employees spend time listening to customers via service calls or in person listening tours can increase empathy. Getting to know customers on a more personal level makes their issues more relatable and encourages teams to become advocates for them. If you connect with customers outside of the sales transaction to show that you really care, you will build a relationship as a trusted partner. – Tracey GrovePure Symmetry Coaching and Consulting

5. Evaluate Human Versus Automated Transactions 

As companies grow and scale, it’s easy to focus on the numbers and be tempted to forget about those personalized experiences. Be weary each time you remove the human, whether it’s an automated messaging system or customer checkout. While these processes can improve efficiency, they each remove a bit of humanity. Focus on the heart of your business and ask yourself, “how can we add some heart here?” – Kyle Cromer Elliott, MPA, CHESCaffeinatedKyle.com

6. Share Customer Experience Stories 

Make time for weekly storytelling to close out a team meeting. Explain how a customer complaint was collected and resolved. Share the outcome, both in terms of process changes to eliminate a repeat, as well as the customer’s reaction to the resolution. Everyone plays a role in delivering a good experience and should pay thoughtful attention to the voices describing experiences that were not top notch. – Jill TipographEarly Stage Careers LLC

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