We’re living in a pretty amazing digital era, where there’s an automated or as-a-service solution for pretty much anything you might be looking to do within your business. This makes sense for a lot of areas - after all, it’s saving you time and resources. However, don’t make the mistake of becoming overly reliant on technology to the extent where you overlook those areas which need a ‘human touch’, and risk alienating your customers.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, giving your customers the service they want is critical. Did you realise that:
We live in an instant gratification environment in 2021 and it's no longer acceptable for a customer (or potential customer) to reach a voicemail or endlessly ringing phone when trying to engage with a business. Neither will customers be impressed with an inefficient chatbot which gives a generic reply (undermining the impression that they’re in a ‘live’ webchat), a clearly automated and irrelevant response, or a message telling them someone will get back to them.
The problem is, there’s often a gap between what customers expect you to provide, and the service you currently offer.
Your customers expect you to understand their needs, listen to their frustrations, respond promptly, and give them consistent answers. This is where a personalised experience is important - customers hate having to repeat their issue to a variety of customer service representatives, and this leads to them feeling spectacularly unimportant to your company, giving the impression no-one has taken the time to properly log details or communicate in-house regarding their query.
Salesforce research found that 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, and over half of customers say they feel like there’s a lack of interdepartmental sharing of information.
It’s business-critical to have a process in place to ensure customer communications are recorded, and that this information is accessible by the entire team if need be. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, but being proactive when it comes to this can really help to prevent customers having to re-explain themselves repeatedly, and feel like they’re communicating with separate departments as opposed to one company.
Overall, the customer service standards and processes of your company need to be clear - both to your customers and your employees. The range of channels on offer to customers to get in touch, and the hours in which these will be operated, are important to clarify.
Time management (and cost management) is critical to busy small businesses, but investing in time to have a real human on the end of a phone call or live chat can be a savvy investment, and reap significant rewards.
Customers rate an immediate response very important when they have a customer service question, and the majority define ‘immediate’ as being 10 minutes or less. Not living up to expectations in this regard can lead to frustrations rising, and it’s all too easy in this digital time for an exasperated customer to take to social media or review sites to vent their dissatisfaction.
Dealing with another person in customer-service interactions, and having a timely response, can prevent this happening. It’s easier to calm down an irate customer when you’re dealing with them in real time, and even if they lose their temper on a call or live chat, if the situation is ultimately resolved it has hopefully prevented your reputation from being damaged publicly online.
A customer service phone line is the traditional way of getting in touch, and more than 50% of customers across all age groups typically use the phone to reach out to a service team, making it the most used channel for customer service. (Zendesk).
However, it’s critical that the call is answered. Missed calls can really affect your business, and if a customer's call isn’t answered, 80% of the time they won’t call back.
Outsourcing your call handling is a great solution. You might be surprised at how inexpensive it is too, particularly if you work with a company who provides flexible packages, meaning you only pay for what you need, and can add-on as necessary.
However, managed web chat is rapidly gaining in popularity, and many customers prefer this channel of reaching out - particularly digital-native younger generations. Some people also just don’t like speaking over the phone!
Most customers expect you to have a live chat function on your site, and will actively look for this if they need answers at the point of purchase, or when considering which product to buy.
As well as being a low-cost option, live chat has a host of other benefits too. Customer service reps can speak to multiple customers at once, and offer immediate support in real-time as a customer progresses down the sales funnel.
This prevents issues like customers abandoning purchases before checking out due to them having difficulties, or clicking off your site because a question hasn’t been answered quickly enough.
A web chat solution can also generate useful metrics to help you see what’s going right (and what’s going wrong) in the process. Most solutions have analytics built in that provide you with valuable reports and insight into customer satisfaction and the performance of your employees.
The return on investment can be impressive too if you use your live chat tools effectively. A Forrester study found that businesses investing in proactive chat capabilities such as these have seen an incremental ROI of up to 105% - a pretty impressive figure!
These inexpensive services are well worth considering if you want to increase your conversions, and can offer massive improvements to your customer service experience. And it’s important to remember, a happy, satisfied customer is likely to turn into a loyal, repeat one!