As any salesperson knows, attracting and securing new customers requires a lot of effort—and the statistics bear it out. The costs are different for every company, of course, but one popular convention says that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a current one.

Customer retention is crucial, and there may be no more important aspect to it than customer service. No matter how excellent your product is, there will be times when something goes awry. You need to be ready to help customers out as quickly as possible, or you’ll lose their trust—and probably their business.

Here at Cayan, we’re proud of our customer service efforts. We’ve learned a lot from past experience, especially industry deadlines like the EMV changeover. These situations with high-volume inquiries are the true test of your customer service. And for any urgent customer service moments, there are 3 stages that we emphasize.

1. Always be prepared.
For us, for instance, TLS 1.0 is an upcoming deadline that we know is approaching, and we have a plan. We know that there will inevitably be difficulty—there simply always is, no matter the amount of warnings you give customers. But the more a company does ahead of time, the smoother the process will be.

For the TLS changeover, we’ve already begun a campaign of webinars and blogs to let both ISVs and merchants know what’s coming and who they’ll need to contact to update their systems. We realize that many will see July 2018 as too far off, but we know that, as we continue to promote it, more and more people will switch their systems over. And as we increase the urgency near the deadline, we’ll maximize the level of prepared customers.

Of course, you won’t always know about every crisis ahead of time—but you do know that there will be emergencies. You should always have in place a communication strategy and a pipeline to keep everyone informed. You can’t be blindsided every time something unexpected happens.

2. Execute your strategy. Keep the right people informed and updated.
You’ll need a protocol in place that will minimize wait time and dropped calls. Of course, with something like the TLS Deadline, which we know in advance, this is somewhat simpler—we’ll make sure we have maximum staff, all with the prepared script. It will be all hands on deck. But just as importantly, you need to have protocol in place to deal with unexpected crises.

Do you have a communication strategy in place? You should know who will write such a comm, who must be consulted, and who must approve.

Will you have answers ready for people on the phone? You need to be ready to answer customer questions and take action to help them as soon as possible. There needs to be a strategy to get these answers to your reps as quickly as possible—and that must be put in place beforehand.

3. Assess your efforts.
There is no more important aspect to customer service than assessment and improvement. You need to make sure you have statistics on the crucial metrics, and you need to see what went wrong so that you can improve next time.

There is simply nothing more dangerous to your company’s relationship with a customer than an unsatisfactory call, but it does happen. Once the situation has calmed down, it provides a great chance to look over what happened, discuss and improve for next time. There are always ways, big and small, to increase satisfaction.

​​The 3 Steps to Improving Customer Service