New technology is continuously emerging all around us, particularly in the world of the consumer market. Companies are seeing massive advertising space in social media like Facebook and blogs, and customers are increasingly using online platforms to shop, compare, recommend or review products and services.
It’s definitely safe to say that our customers are becoming more tech-smart, and whilst it’s thrilling to be able to see what our audiences want, it requires some shift in company approach, particularly when it comes to presentation and communication.
One area where this could not be truer is the realm of customer service. Customer service is the crucial yet frequently-overlooked asset of a company that is largely responsible for generating customer satisfaction, loyalty, and inevitably company turnover. Customer service should be a number one priority for every company and recognized as the genuine minefield for profit, not merely a necessary or formal-sounding ‘add on’ for the company’s structure.
Some companies have failed to see the potential of an effective, properly-equipped customer service department and have been reluctant to invest in its growth, which has eventually led to outsourcing and in some cases, complete eradication of the service.
But many companies are upping their game when it comes to customer service, making use of new technologies, namely social media, which has definitely made it easier for customers to be more openly vocal about their complaints to a loomingly large audience in just a short moment. Yes, customers now have an easier way of getting negativity out there, and managing bad press can seem much more difficult and at times futile. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way; especially when new technologies are making it easier for companies to accommodate customers in a way they never could before.
Your company is probably already on Facebook and Twitter. You have a website and perhaps a blog too. If your website offers a Customer Help forum, a clear presentation of appropriate contact numbers to call, or an online chat service for resolving customer issues, even better. (If not, these come highly recommended.)
But even if you think your company has it covered; check whether you’re taking on these four initatives.
Put your experts on the frontline of social media.
These can be in-house or external, but it helps to have somebody who knows their stuff responding to customers directly. If your brand’s social media platforms are teeming with individuals all ready and willing to help, then customers are less likely to post ad hoc, unspecific comments, either via Facebook or Twitter. Customers want to be treated like an individual, which often means being approached by individuals, and not a faceless brand.
Help customers help themselves.
Social media is a fantastic way to share and exchange information, so use your platforms to post or share external resources that will empower customers to become their own fountain of knowledge and even help create an engaging community. This can be in the form of blogs, how-to videos, webinars, infographics etc., anything that addresses a hypothetical crisis. This also has the effect almost of swooping in to save your customers before they even need saving, which lets them know you’ll be there for them should the moment ever arise.
Deliver to your customers…wherever they are.
Many companies are taking their customer service mobile, creating a mobile customer service app or SMS text support service to provide customer service on-the-go. If this is not you, its high-time you got on the bandwagon.
Parature for Facebook, for example, allows companies to provide a Customer Service Base right in the heart of their Facebook page, where social media-savvy customers are likely to head first. They can make use of features such as the Knowledge Base, the Ticket Customer Support system, or Chat. Not only does this make things easier for the customers; it also makes it easier for customer service departments to monitor and process complaints and can be a welcome alternative to managing those sporadic waves of wall posts.
Desk.com by Salesforce is ideal for smaller businesses, enabling them to keep all of their customer feedback channels such as Facebook, Twitter, email, phone and instant chat all in one place. This is likely to boost efficiency and also provides opportunity for customer service reps to monitor their customers’ contact preferences.
Unify and analyze
On the note of monitoring customer contact preferences, this too is a proven gem when it comes to delivering what your customers want – sometimes before they’ve even asked for it. Gone will be the days when your customers will wait impatiently in a call queue, only to be cut off and become increasingly angrier as they spend their morning making five or six more stuttered calls. Unification of communication is helpful for consistency – many customers are likely to use more than one channel in the hope that they can ‘cut in line’ and have their problem resolved faster.
Meanwhile, data collection and analytics will enable you to establish the preferred channels of communication of your customers, and be better prepared or enforced to handle those that receive the most traffic. This is where Social CRM software cannot be underestimated. The Salesforce app has various capabilities in sales and customer service management, as well as many other content management applications to suit your company.
Technology and social media need not be an overwhelming thing – they ought to be harnessed and exploited in order to provide the best customer service experience possible and smaller businesses in particular can benefit from this. Although new channels have made customer interactions more
complex, they also create opportunity for better-controlled and more manageable onsets of heavy customer service demands.
1. Treat every customer as if they were a VIP
Give every customer the same excellent treatment as you would like to receive yourself. It’s as simple as that! You could use some of the following approaches:
- Thank your customers for their business, both in person and also printed on the receipt.
- Make a real effort to help your customers and assist them in every way you can.
- Keep your promises and integrity. If you say that you will contact them to let them know when an item is back in stock – be sure that you do! Every so often, businesses forget or fail to get back to their customers, who might very well find another supplier in the meantime.
2. Keep measuring customer satisfaction
Studies show that 91% of unhappy customers will never come back to a business they believe is below par. By frequently measuring customer satisfaction, you can reduce the number of unsatisfied customers and prevent customer churn. An effective and easy way to measure customer satisfaction is using an online survey tool from a survey provider, such as Netigate.
3. Know how you should survey your customers – the right way
With a customer feedback survey you are able to find out how happy your customers are with you, if and what you need to do to improve your product or service, and to identify those customers who love your product and could possibly send new customers your way. A Net Promoter Score is the ultimate survey to find out how likely it is that your customer would recommend your business to others, with one simple question. If you choose to have a slightly more comprehensive survey, make sure you keep it fairly short, less than 10 questions and not longer than 3.5 minutes.
4. Keep an eye on what customers say about you on social media
When you track and monitor customer satisfaction on social media you are updated on both positive and negative feedback and can take appropriate measures to resolve them. The majority of people use their mobile phones up to 150 times per day and many of them turn to social media when they want to leave a complaint. Take the opportunity and use social media to increase your customer satisfaction!
Here is how you can use social media:
- As a customer support channel – make sure you are active and respond to your customers within 24 hours.
- Hold Q&A sessions, live chats and tutorials
- Monitor brand mentions