Customer service is far and away the mythical “make or break” business element for most sectors of our economy. There’s a saying that goes, “People won’t remember exactly what you said a year from now, but they’ll remember how you said it.” Ponder that for a second. The implications are massive (for every aspect of life, actually, but especially for customer service).
But before we get into concrete tips to optimize your service skills, here’s a bit of background as to why customer service is so valuable. We live in the internet age, which means we live in the age of rapid social scaling.
In other words, one happy customer has the potential (via social media, online reviews, etc.) to have a large ripple effect, getting the word out to multiple people about your products or services.
But be careful: the blade cuts both ways.
Another bright point: if you resolve a customer’s complaint to their satisfaction and advantage, they’re 70% likelier to do repeat business with you. Consider how simple that is to do, and how huge the payoff is for doing it.
Those are just two of the myriad reasons to follow these tips on optimizing your customer service offerings.
Offer A Callback Option
One of the most frequent customer service complaints is the amount of time it takes to reach a live agent during a customer service call. Some companies play soothing music to allay the irritation, but that gets old after about fifteen seconds.
There’s a better way. And the kicker? It’s simple, and free to implement.
Instead of making your customers wait, with intermittent recorded promises of fast service (but a different reality), make this simple offer (or something similar): “We appreciate your business and understand you’re probably busy. Would you like to get back to your day? If you leave your name, number and the reason for your call, one of our agents will call you back as soon as possible.”
This accomplishes several important things simultaneously. It establishes a sense of empathy and connection with your customer and his or her reality; you’ve acknowledged that they, like you, are probably quite busy. But beyond establishing empathy, you’ve given your customer the gift of his or her time back. Quite literally, there’s nothing more precious than that.
Absolutely Everyone Texts… Leverage That
Much of what creates stellar customer service comes down to one very simple element: active connection. Making an effort to show that you recognize and respect the reality of your customers goes a long way toward establishing goodwill. But there’s yet another pragmatic point to be considered alongside that: absolutely everyone texts.
The ubiquity of texting can be applied to countless sectors, and opens up countless doors for customer service. Just opened a restaurant? Allow people to text in their takeout orders, then text them back with the time their food will be ready, the pickup location and price.
Much like the first tip about call-backs, this simple but hugely effective tactic is practically free to implement... maybe just a small phone bill, if your company takes out a separate phone for this purpose. But even that payment would be dwarfed by the positive consequences.
Incorporating texting into your repertoire means gaining access to various age groups, demographics and just about every other point of segmentation in your potential customer base. In 2018 alone, an astounding 8.3 trillion texts will be exchanged. Why not stake out a part of the action?
Self-Serve Support for Ticket Deflection
One of your main customer service goals should be putting control and responsibility directly back into your customers’ hands. And one of the best ways to do this is incorporating self-serve customer support on your company forum. This will aid immensely with ticket deflection, repetitive basic inquiries, phone jams, and much more.
How is it done? The simplest way is to create a dedicated “community support” or “self-serve support” area in your forum. Make sure your users know that all content in this area needs to deal directly with customer service inquiries, to be answered by online community members. This is quick, free, and maps effortlessly onto your existing infrastructure. But wait, there’s more. A full 91% of consumers said they would use a digital knowledge base to answer inquiries if it was available to them (just like the one we’re describing here).
The odds of one of your customers encountering a completely unique problem are practically nonexistent. Rather than having a customer pester your support staff for the thousandth time with the same question, let your users know they can simply hop online and reference your forum’s “self-serve support” section. It’s simple, free, and keeps things running smoothly for everyone.
AI, for the More Adventurous Among You
Call-back options and texting are all well and good –very good, actually. – but they’re not enough. Not if you want to stay relevant and optimized for the long haul, anyway. For that, you need to roll with the technological punches… and that means embracing new advances when they come along. And that means AI should top your list.
There are at least two different angles to consider here. The first approach would be to install a chatbot on your site. In 2017, 35% of consumers said they wanted to see more chatbots on company sites. That’s known as a “massive minority”. You know what happens to businesses who don’t listen to massive minorities? (Hint: you can’t ask any of the owners personally, because they’re long gone.)
The other option when it comes to AI is the incorporation of some type of software into your business. There are amazing AI software offerings hitting the market every day, capable of everything from customer outreach to billing reminders and authentication.
Can you think of any better way to free up your company’s collective time and resources to focus on building a better product or team?
Along with product quality and the overall soundness of your business model, customer service is one of the most valuable factors of a winning business. This has always been true, but the acceleration of technology has heightened the rewards reaped by companies willing to innovate in the name of their consumers’ needs.
Whether it’s the tried and true call-back option for respect and convenience, texting for connectivity and or providing self-serve support, one perennial truth remains. Prioritize customer service, and the rewards will follow.