The customer is always right. While that may not always be true, keeping this mantra at the forefront, can prove to be one of the most effective customer service improvement strategies. Treating the customer as King, may not always be a pleasing experience. But, it can greatly enhance and improve your customer experience game. Design thinking has become the need of the hour for every customer service business. And, knowing how and when to apply these strategies can not only improve customer experience, but also improve profitability and reputation. 

Design thinking involves prioritising the customer experience above everything else. Thus, enhancing customer experience while effectively increasing profit margins. Customer experience does not end  once the product or service is sold to the customer. In fact, how effectively you support the customer while they use the product or service to help them achieve their goal, matters even more. And this is where Design thinking can add immense value because it helps you understand the overall customer journey and the touchpoints that really matter to them. 

A returning customer is a happy customer. Design thinking will ensure that not only your business and profitability grows, but also your reputation and credibility. Therefore, invest time, energy, resources and money on customer service improvement strategies. 

“Building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.”

Clare Muscutt

Here’s our list of customer service improvement strategies using Design Thinking to radically enhance customer experience 

  1. Find the “right” problem

Our default setting makes us race towards finding answers to problems in life and business. Here’s where we may go wrong sometimes. Design Thinking practitioners have discovered many a time that the problem was never really what one initially understood. It was, in fact, very different. Hence, the first major tip for customer improvement strategies is to re-look at the way you have understood and defined the problem. 

The Design Thinking approach first helps you find the right problem to solve. Only then does it recommend moving on to solve it. In fact, Design Thinking helps you to live in the problem space for some time so that you understand the problem from an outside-in perspective and then move it to the solutions space. 

Take, for example, a situation wherein a fashion brand began facing a reduction in its customer satisfaction ratings. The brand’s managers, using their default setting, assumed that the problem was reduced product quality and began looking for better fabric. Whereas, when advised to do a little research and “live with the problem”, it was unearthed that the real reason was customers didn’t find enough variety in the products as they did before! 

In layman’s language, what this simply means is that businesses need to better understand the needs of the customer. Knowing what is right and understanding what is right are two different things. Let go of outdated and obsolete ways of doing business. Effective customer service improvement strategies begin with understanding the customers’ needs. This may not necessarily match with what you think the customer needs. 

Design thinking targets the real needs of the customer and accordingly creates solutions. Accordingly, modify your business strategies to align with the needs of your customers. Focus on what works – not just for you, but also for your customer. If it is time to let go of age-old ideologies, just let it go. Keep up with the changing demands of the customers. Keep creating solutions. Even, and especially, in areas you think you don’t need one. Sell what the customer needs, not what you want the customer to need. 

Customer service improvement strategies begin with findind the right problem 

“We don’t want to push our ideas onto customers, we simply want to make what they want.”

Laura Ashley

  1. Be customer-centric 

The customer is King. He/she is also always dissatisfied and looking for a better way. Keeping this mantra in mind helps. In a customer service industry, where customer satisfaction is of utmost importance, treating the customer like a King is indeed the logical way to go. The higher the customer satisfaction, the greater your profitability. Customers like coming back to businesses where they feel valued. A returning customer is indeed a sign of a flourishing and profitable business. Hence, strategies that are customer-centric aim at building customer relationships whilst achieving the goal of the business.

Designing a great customer experience involves dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity. The team working on the design needs to experiment with nimble solutions for every problem they encounter. Embrace customer feedback, whether positive or critical. Build on the positive feedback and learn from the criticism. Do not retaliate or dismiss a customer’s feedback, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Use the data from customer feedback to improve and improvise. Design thinking induces businesses to become customer-centric and thus add more value to the customer experience. And if the King is happy, the kingdom will flourish. Keep improving, keep improvising. In an ever-changing and dynamic business environment, improvement and improvising never end. Customer comes first if you want your customer to last. 

Customer service improvement strategies need to be customer centric 

“It takes months to find a customer … seconds to lose one”

  • Vince Lombardi
    1. Embrace innovation – one of the most creative customer service improvement strategies

The more creative you get with your customer service improvement strategies, the more efficiently you can run your business. Invest in Innovation. Keep up with the changing times and let go of outdated strategies that no longer work. Embrace change with open arms. Change is the only constant that will keep you going. If you don’t adapt your business to the changing needs of the customer, you will lose your customers to your competition. Customers are drawn towards brands that provide them value for money. Innovation-based customer service improvement strategies will help you achieve that goal. 

A classic design thinking approach would include, for example, replacing a generic customer service contact with a personalized one for your customers. Make the customer feel special. It is not only your product or service that matters, but how efficiently you can provide after-sales services is what counts too. Do not end your customer satisfaction journey once the sale is made, come up with personalized techniques to provide the much-required after-sales service. It is only when you stand out in terms of what you have to offer, that will the customer be drawn to you. An endless line of happy customers means more business for you. 

Customer service improvement strategies need to be innovative

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet”

  • Kevin Stirtz
  1. Continuously reimagining the customer value proposition  – one of the most practical customer service improvement strategies

Customers always welcome additions to the value proposition of a brand. Design Thinking practitioners encourage teams to be continually dissatisfied with the status quo, even if the customers are happy. Imagining the next delightful experience for the customer is the mantra to be followed.

For instance, cost-effectiveness is key for your business and customer satisfaction. Providing good value and quality at a reasonable price leads to happy customers, increased profitability, and a strong reputation. Design thinking encourages thinking creatively. Applying cost-effectiveness from a customer service perspective is the standout approach. Focus on making customers happy to reap the benefits. Exceeding expectations is the real challenge.

Customer service improvement strategies need to be cost effective

“Show value, create an experience, and always strive to exceed expectations.”

Shep Hyken

  1. Fail more to succeed faster

Be ready to fail multiple times while designing new customer experiences. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think, feel, and relate to how a customer would feel about your business. Whether you have a product to offer or a service to provide, how happy would ‘You’ as a customer feel? The experience design team can use a Design Thinking strategy of rapid prototyping – prototyping and testing in real-time to fail more and often with nimble experiments so that the team can ultimately succeed in designing the new delightful experience

Design thinking basically allows you to think like a customer towards your own business. And make changes, that are not working out for you – as a customer. Don’t just focus on making money, focus on making the customer happy. Once you turn yourself into a customer, you will be able to see what is and what is not working out for your customer and thus your business. Don’t be afraid of failed customer service improvement experiments, and profits will follow soon enough as you find new winning formulas. Remember, your competition is watching you. The moment you lose sight, you lose your customer to your competition. 

Customer service improvement strategies involve thinking like a customer

“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will”

  • Bob Hooey 

Final thoughts 

Design thinking is indeed the buzzword in today’s time, especially in the customer service business. The more customer service improvement strategies you come up with, the better your business will flourish. It will also help you to build your brand reputation and credibility with a long line of loyal customers. In a competitive business environment, where a customer can make the switch to your competition in the blink of an eye (or as they say in the digital world, at the click of a button) keeping your customers happy and coming back for more is highly imperative. 

Follow these 5 game-changing customer service improvement strategies diligently as well as consistently. Watch a 360-degree shift in the way your business performs. In a competitive business, where the customer is king (whether you like it or not!), these customer service improvement strategies are a saving grace. Design thinking will help you gain as well as retain customers. And in the customer service industry, customers are your profit margin. The higher your customer base, the bigger your gains. Always think, Customer first!

About the author, Ajay Aggarwal

A Haryanvi by origin, an entrepreneur at heart, and a consultant by choice, that’s how Ajay likes to introduce himself! Ajay is the Founding Partner at Humane Design and Innovation Consulting (HDI). Before starting HDI, Ajay founded the Design Thinking and Innovation practice at KPMG India. His 16+ years of professional career spans various roles in product and service design, conducting strategy workshops, storytelling, and enabling an innovation culture. He has coached 50+ organizations and 2000+ professionals in institutionalizing design and innovation practices. He loves to blog and speak on topics related to Design Thinking, Innovation, Creativity, Storytelling, Customer Experience, and Entrepreneurship. Ajay is passionate about learning, writing poems, and visualizing future trends!

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