5 keys to delivering customer service that starts word of mouth

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Customer service is a huge word of mouth opportunity. But so many businesses still see it as a burden — as that annoying thing customers sometimes ask for after they’ve paid you.

But at our word of mouth conference, Get Satisfaction co-founder Lane Becker shared how smart companies are using the opportunity to start positive word of mouth conversations. A few of his essential steps:

1. Know your purpose
2. Set ground rules
3. Set clear expectations
4. Cast a wide conversational net
5. Make it personal
6. Watch Lane’s video 

1. Know your purpose

Understanding your core purpose gives you a goal with every customer service interaction. Lane talked about how Zappos’ Core Values are fantastic guideposts for their customer service reps. Timbuk2 is another example, he said, of a company whose core principles and company history anchor what they do. With a clear purpose, customer service interactions become more than just a one-off conversation, they become an opportunity to further instill the fundamentals that you believe in.

2. Set ground rules

Everyone benefits when you set some boundaries and structure for your customers. Lane says it’s perfectly OK to tell your customers what is and isn’t acceptable, but too few companies actually do it. His favorite example is Flickr’s “Don’t be creepy” guideline. It’s fantastically straightforward, and it’s something they reference frequently when interacting with customers. With a few simple rules of your own, you’ll instantly help both your customers and your employees.

3. Set clear expectations

Build trust and earn respect by staying consistent in the way you respond, what you say, and how you do it. But, keep in mind that over time your policies may need to evolve. When things do change, communicate this openly and clearly to customers, and involve them in the process whenever possible. Not only is this a fantastic way to deliver great customer service, but it’s also a great way to build a community around your business.

4. Cast a wide conversational net

Lane said the conversation shouldn’t be limited to customer service reps and it shouldn’t be confined to emails, phone calls, or a tab buried deep in your website. He recommends using simple tools to pull online conversations throughout your website and inviting your subject matter experts to get involved. One of Lane’s favorite examples of this is how Whole Foods uses customer forums and how senior leadership gets involved in responding to questions — questions that are eventually seen by hundreds of thousands of people on their website.

5. Make it personal

It’s easy to be angry at anonymity. But a real person with a real name and a real picture — that builds credibility. Lane recommends clearly identifying yourself when engaging with customers. Doing this makes you more human, and it helps your customers be more human too.

6. Watch Lane’s video

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