6 Customer Service Tips and Best Practices for a Superior Customer Experience
62% of organizations predict that millennials will only get increasingly demanding when it comes to customer service, and 67% believe that strategic partnerships with better digital technology could help them improve their CX to get ready for this.
But when it comes to an investment into the future of your business, digital marketers and business strategists need to be sure that these steps will have an impact. When it comes to a digital strategy, here’s how you continue to beat the competition and impress your customers where it matters.
Customer Service Tips for Consistency Across Channels
Did you know that a study by Macy’s found that customers who use more than one channel to shop are 8 times more valuable than those who don’t? This means that omnichannel consistency is no longer a choice. You want to encourage your customers to find you on all platforms available, and ensure that your message and branding is seamless throughout.
As the amount of time that people spend using mobile devices continues to take the lead against those simply making purchases in-store or on a computer, many customer service tips will now prioritize changing communication right alongside it. Hackermoon describes it simply. “It’s the duty of your business to communicate through social media and mobile messaging as well, because you need to meet consumers where they already spend their time.”
Creating a strategy where you can have a seamless conversation with your customer on the channels which they frequent, and moving holistically from one to the other, is now essential.
Best Practices for Dealing with Customers’ Problems
Take this customer success story from J Crew. A customer used the website to buy an item of clothing with a coupon, and then accidentally cancelled the order. Thinking the coupon lost, they emailed support for guidance. Support replied, happy to honor the coupon price and requested that the customer call to confirm, due to low stock. When the customer was unable to call that day, a separate customer service rep phoned him the following day, talked him through similar options on the website which suited his initial purchase, and then applied a coupon discount at checkout over the phone.
The consumer was not only delighted with the ease of this journey across multiple channels, but was also experiencing an example of a fail turned into a customer service win.
Problems and mistakes are a certainty of life, but it’s how you deal with these errors or challenges which separates a powerful customer service story from churn. One of the most effective practices to keep to is owning your limitations.
Forbes recognizes this when they discuss this year’s CX trends, and the growth of AI within them, pointing out that “The best chatbots are able to not only respond to requests and questions, but also recognize when the customer is confused and seamlessly hand off the conversation to a live customer support rep.”
Being able to combine technology, self-service, and human support gives a far richer experience than any one of these could create alone. And customer service best practice now demands it.
Quick Response Time Importance
It’s also important not to underestimate the value of speed in your customer relationships. CX and customer service guru Shep Hyken discusses how technology creates opportunities for speed. Hyken calls speed “a value added advantage that customers are willing to pay for.” Whether it’s saving on hold times on the telephone by moving to live chat, or saving on time waiting in line in-store thanks to self-service kiosks, the latest digital commerce options are making interactions quicker and simpler.
Time is money, and customers will often choose speed over cost savings. Just as someone might pay more for overnight delivery of an item, they will also be loyal to a business that values their time.
Installing a conversational widget on your website can give your customers the autonomy to find the answers they need when they need them, without being presented with long hold times or the limitations of business opening hours.
The FedEx chat widget is a great example. It’s totally unobtrusive as it isn’t a popup, able to be summoned from the sidebar when it’s needed. The text makes it clear what it’s there for, and explains to customers in a transparent way that they are not talking to a human agent. This is just one example of a modern conversational interface that’s user-friendly and supports the needs of the business while supporting the customer.
Make the Customers’ Job Easy
The less your customer has to do, and the easier their journey, the better. For example, signing up to a company newsletter or rewards scheme. Even in person, if you’re presented with a lengthy questionnaire to fill in before you can become a member or receive a store points card, you’re likely to give up midway through, feeling that the reward isn’t worth the hassle. Online is no different.
The HuffPost claims that “for each piece of additional information you ask for, your adoption rates are going to decrease.”
Hipmunk are a great example of a website which does it right. Signing up can be done with one click through Facebook or Google+, or by entering just your email address and choosing a password.
Anticipating Needs is a Customer Service Best Practice
Other ways to simplify the customer journey is with anticipatory customer service. Broadly speaking this means working out what your customer wants before they do. Sounds like science fiction? Tell that to Amazon, who have a patent for anticipatory shipping where they can ship items out before they even have a destination in mind. Using their algorithms, they can work out what locations are likely to need certain items ahead of the orders, giving a final address at the last leg of the journey rather than the first.
While you might want to leave this kind of large scale gesture to ecommerce giants, there are still plenty of ways to anticipate what your customers want on the smaller scale.
Take language. If you are using AI on your website, this is the face of your company and should be as helpful as a manager in-store. Create algorithms which can continue conversations in a smart way, just like a human would.
Let’s say your customer asks for flights to London on a given date, and there are none available. Bots often just give the negative response, the equivalent of a customer service rep simply walking away once a question has been answered. Alternatively, your chatbot could offer available dates in the same week instead- giving your customer more options, and keeping the conversation open.
Listening to the Customer
Personalization and going the extra mile is not a new idea in customer service practices. But integrating this with the latest technology might be. While many could argue that technology can never show empathy, others might say that you can’t improve customer experience without it. In fact, Gartner predict that by 2020, businesses which use empathy in their technology are three times as likely to succeed.
In-built into your AI needs to be the ultimate goal of helping your customers, and understanding their needs. Gartner believe that the VOC (Voice of the Customer) initiative is essential to this.
Automation could be used to monitor your customer behavior, and uncover the times where they show frustration. This could be the language they use when talking to virtual assistants, or even the speed with which they end a session when they can’t find what they need, or something specific such as episodes of rage clicking. All of these can be used as literally as direct feedback to create AI which responds more empathetically and proactively to support your customers.
In a Word- Customer Service Best Practices? Simplicity
All of these customer service tips come down to one clear bottom line: making the customers life easier. From anticipating their needs to finding them on the channels they use, listening to their frustrations, or streamlining their customer journey. These customer service best practices can help you get the most of out of your digital self-service and delight customers with a simple and effective strategy for success.