Ways to Improve Customer Service
Since Forrester proclaimed that we are living in the “Age of the Customer” business leaders are realizing that customer-centric company policies aren’t just important, but crucial to staying relevant to customer needs. This goes beyond, brushing up your FAQs, but involves an entire overhaul of antiquated service strategies and training your service team for the skills necessary. This may seem like an overwhelming process, but with the right combination of advanced technology and pristine people skills, your business can improve on customer service.
Improving Customer Service is Essential to Long Term Success
Customer expectations have been adapting as quickly as technology advances. If your support strategies don’t reflect these rapid advancements, guess what? Your competitors will. Whether it is advanced ticketing systems that remove the annoying agent re-routing, or a self-service solution that allows your customers to conveniently find the answers they need – it’s time to learn from your customer feedback and improve your customer service.
We have put together a list of 9 things that you can do to take your customer service game up.
1. Make Good Customer Service a Company Wide Value
Good customer service doesn’t end with the people on the phone answering your customer queries, and it certainly doesn’t begin there either. Align every member of your business to value customer-centric, “people” skills. The same kind, attentive demeanor that your support team shows on email or phone correspondence should be reflected in marketing messages, general email correspondence and the attitude shown to your customer base.
Nurture a good environment that stays hungry and thankful for the end-user. This creates an atmosphere of gratitude and impacts the customer service experience within your team to create an environment of service minded individuals with enhanced empathy, open to feedback.
2. Drive Consistent Messaging Throughout Your Organization
Regardless of the size of your company, sharing knowledge effectively and keeping everyone informed are skills that even good organizations struggle with from time to time. Communication is a hurdle for big organizations because of size, bureaucracy and volume of feedback. Smaller organizations require more agility and sometimes final internal protocol can be unclear.
You must create the important documentation to be distributed (if it doesn’t’ already exist). Companies that rely on internal knowledge bases with self-service solutions have an easier time adapting and distributing content. This will empower your agents’ performance as well by providing on the spot training. Instead of your customers hearing different terms and rules from different reps, your brand’s message will come across loud and clear from point a to point z.
3. Remove Anonymity of Your Team
Although there can be important reasons for using fake names or personas within your organization, good customer service sometimes requires a real personal connection. The more down to earth and transparent your team can be, the more likely that your customers will feel safe and looked after.
Consider having members of your company who are the face of your business (eg. marketers, sales people, etc.) take the same approach. It adds a level of trust when there is a face and a human behind the tweets your company sends via social. Good, positive communication is more likely to happen when it is P2P – person to person. Relate to your customers as human and professional as possible to improve communication and build customer loyalty.
4. Be Available At All Times From All Places
Yes, you must be omnipotent and omnipresent. We’re not suggesting that you adopt a “God-complex” but leaving your customers hanging for answers or resolution is a sure fire way to alienate them and leave them seeking a more available alternative. There are countless studies proving that your customers expect you to respond to them, on their terms and quickly.
Did you know that:
- 33% of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick but ineffective response.
- While 17% of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a slow but effective solution. (Nielsen-McKinsey)
- 53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour, and that number skyrockets to 72% if it’s a complaint. (Lithium Technologies)
But speed isn’t the only thing important to your customers, the explosion of social media, search engines, forums and online product reviews made consumers self-reliant on retrieving the information necessary to make educated purchases. So if you’re strategy doesn’t include customer service that allows feedback and communication from all touch points and screens, you are going to be left and forgotten by your customers.
5. Make Your Knowledge Accessible
Along the same vain as number 4, don’t make your visitors work to find the information that they need. FAQs are a standard, important, top-funnel part of your customer service plan, but that is rarely enough. The modern customer expects to find resolution to their problems without having to write an email to a support rep, open a chat discussion or pick up the phone and wait.
What if your customer is in the midst of purchasing and urgently needs more information about the product or service to feel good about completing the transaction? FAQs don’t cut it. According to a study by Forrester, 45% of consumers will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions. You need an FAQ solution that is out of the box and not tied to one lonely page on your website.
6. Employ a Self-Service Solution
Do you know that according to Gartner, by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. It’s so important to understand that this is what your customers expect. A self-service solution doesn’t merely provide knowledge base management product with an easy to use widget (although that’s pretty revolutionary), it also supports personalized escalation paths for high touch customer issues, to the right agent with the right skill set. Human customer service teams are not becoming obsolete, it’s just that technology helps your company optimize each worker’s potential, while creating a comfortable solution for your customers to get the right information that they need quickly.
7. Improving Social Self-Service is a Must
Your brand’s social media pages are the public face of your organization beyond your own website and storefront, if you have one. For the online community, your social media pages serve as a direct link to your customers in a setting that is comfortable to them. While many businesses think of social media as a way to attract new customers, it would be wiser to see social media as a way to build relationships.
This makes them a perfect setting to offer customer support. As we discussed in item 6, self-service is quickly taking over as the preferred channel of customer support and adding a contact form, messaging channel, knowledge base, or even a support center to your social media pages provides your customers a completely new touchpoint by which to engage you. This provides comfort and convenience to your customers who expect nothing less from you.
In addition, social self-service has become even more necessary for brands since April 12th of this year, when Facebook announced the launch of their bot platform for messenger. Support chat bot solutions are now expected to be an essential addition to any customer service department, which means social self-service will be a differentiator amongst the competition.
8. Build a Real Community and Make It Easy to Share Feedback
Community managers and Social media experts are typically grouped under the marketing umbrella. However, their impact on customer support is integral to an effective customer care strategy. In fact, Gartner forecasted last year that organizations integrating communities into customer support will realize cost reductions ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent.
It makes sense. Community managers are often the face of the business, getting into the tredges of online forums and social media streams to listen, manage feedback, create meaningful conversations and respond to customer queries. Community managers require the skills to work cross-departmentally, sharing pertinent information and helping build products and strategies that answer customers’ needs.
Community is important, that’s why you must make it easy for your customers to leave feedback and insights on your content and answers. Open comments and feedback for posts on blogs and social channels, create onsite forums or allow ratings systems on answers in your FAQ. By asking your customers, “did you find this helpful” you let them know that your main target is to please them and guide them to the easiest resolution path.
9. Constantly Offer Training Opportunities to Support Reps
It is detrimental to view training as a one time experience for your customer reps. Refresher training is important, and training for new strategies, products, customer service techniques is sure to keep your team working together as a unified voice.
Working in the field of customer service can be a hard road to hoe. Dealing with high emotions from frustrated customers can be taxing to your team. Your service team must learn company protocol and product details, but training must also equip your team with the necessary skills deal with these difficult situations. Encourage and support your customer support team so that they can give the same right back to your customers.
Managers also need to be able to measure individual employee skills and strengths, as well as areas of improvement. This can help you create the necessary training materials to give individualized attention to support team members who may need a bit of extra guidance.
Also, as we mentioned in number 2, having a centralized internal knowledgebase for your customer support team can provide quick and easy training updates to alleviate any internal friction from product or company codes that may otherwise be unclear.
Do you want to learn more about self service? Check out this short article about how self-service can upgrade your customer support.