What Your Competitors Can Teach You
about Customer Service

See also: Commercial Awareness

It is said that smart people learn from their mistakes, while brilliant ones learn from the mistakes of other people.

However, sometimes no mistakes are necessary for us to learn or improve. We can simply pay more attention to what people around us are doing and try to replicate the things that work for them.

The same logic can, of course, be applied to business. Further, it becomes even more important in a world where someone else's success could potentially mean your failure. By watching what our competitors are doing, we can learn a lot about what we could be doing differently to improve our own business results.

One of the areas where it’s quite easy to see what your competitors can offer is customer service. Its significance is constantly rising and it is very often the element which turns out to be crucial when a purchasing decision is made.

So, what is it that we can learn from others about customer service that we can use and turn into our advantage?

Problem Solving

People who contact customer support have a question or a problem that they want to see resolved. If this doesn’t happen to their satisfaction, they might vent their frustration by turning to independent review sites or social media to express their dissatisfaction.

If you visit such sites regularly, and follow what it going on in relevant circles on social media platforms, you can learn from other people’s experience and make sure that you prevent the same or similar problems with your product or service.

You should pay special attention to unique needs that certain types of customers have and that have gone unaddressed. It is with resolving everyone’s issues that you win the most loyal customers, since they feel that your company really understands the issue and provides a unique, tailor-made solution.

Support and Respect

The whole point of customer support is to help your existing and prospective customers, while at the same time showing respect and appreciation.

If you look at how your competitors deal with this issue, you might be able to learn a thing or two. Both positive and negative reviews provide valuable indications about what should and what shouldn’t be done in terms of customer support.

Focus on the respect and appreciation that your competitors offer and try to give more than they do. Make sure you raise awareness among all employees about the importance of contact with customers, since customers form their opinions about the customer support based on every single contact they have had with any representative of the company in question.

Training agents who directly reply to customers’ queries are a must, although you should also consider the services offered by a properly trained virtual receptionist. These people have undergone specialized training in communicating with customers in the most respectful way, which means you wouldn’t need to set up any kind of additional education programs. Also, companies offering such services work 24/7, so that you don’t have to keep people on your payroll to cover all shifts.

Analyze Failures

Try to obtain as much information as possible about the reasons why someone left your competitor. Very often, one of the reasons, or the only reason for that matter, will be some form of poor customer support.

Knowing the exact problem that your competitor failed to address properly can help you avoid making the same mistake. Remember what we said about learning from other people’s mistakes?

The information you’re looking for can sometimes be obtained from various reviews posted online, though you need to take those with a pinch of salt. Sometimes competitors post fake negative reviews trying to damage the reputation of competitors, which is why you need to try to hear the comments straight from the horse’s mouth.

Anticipate What Your Customers Want

You can’t possibly predict every single reason why people would contact you, but you should have quite a good idea about how they would like to get in touch.

Your task is to anticipate all possible channels of communication that people might want to use and be present wherever people might need your help.

The increasing popularity of social media platforms means that you have to set up accounts and post regularly. Not only will social media be used to advertise your product or service, but people will also realize that you are always there to help them.

There is nothing wrong in keeping a close eye on your competitors’ social media presence. Find out what kind of posts attract most attention and which stir up discussions. Finally, check for items such as community forums and FAQ pages, since they provide an excellent opportunity for self-service support, which is the preferred method of customer support among a great number of people.

Keep Refreshing

Just like it’s important to stay fresh and innovative when it comes to your offer, the same could be said about the customer support you provide.

To begin with, compare what you do with what your competitors do. If they do something you don’t, or provide support in a way you don’t, think about why they do it.

If you fail to see any reason, it doesn’t mean it makes no sense, but don’t introduce something just because someone else has it. On the other hand, if you realize that there’s a good reason to start doing something differently, you should most definitely take the plunge. Just don’t forget that you need to do it in such a way that your customers receive something they are unlikely to receive from anyone else. The feeling of being special is invaluable when it comes to brand loyalty.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Final remarks

Staying in the loop when it comes to what your competitors do and offer is necessary, regardless of the line of business you’re in.

The stories of their success and failure can help you avoid many problems, since you’ll be walking down a well-trodden path. At the same time, you’ll be able to focus more energy and resources on dealing with other issues where no shortcuts are available.

About the Author

My name is Alex Williams. I am a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger, trying to find my luck. Blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting yourself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase your expertise and receiving recognition.