May 30, 2016 | By

How to Improve Customer Service in “The Age of the Customer”

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. This goes beyond, brushing up your FAQs, but could involve taking a hard look at current customer service strategies and processes to see where improvements can be made.

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.  Here are a few ways to amp up your customer service game.

1. Make Exceptional 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 an environment that values service-minded individuals that appreciate the end-user and.

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 the best organizations struggle with from time to time. Communication can be  a hurdle for large organizations because of size, bureaucracy and volume of feedback while smaller organizations are more agile, but as a result, grapple with unclear protocols.    An internal knowledge bases with self-service solutions can help distribute content and ensure everyone is on message.

3. Be Available At All Times From All Places

It might sound impossible, but it’s critical to business success.  Leaving your customers hanging for answers or resolution is a sure fire way to alienate them and leave them seeking a more available alternative. In fact, according to recent research:

  • 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 make sure your availability is a two-way street by allowing  feedback and communication from all touch points and screens.

4. Make Your Knowledge Accessible & Offer Self-Service Solutions

According to a study by Forrester, 45% of consumers will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions. So the moral of this story?  Don’t make your visitors work to find the information that they need.  While FAQs are a standard, important, top-funnel part of a customer service plan, it’s rarely enough. The modern customer expects to find resolution to their problems without having to write an email to a support rep or pick up the phone and wait.  Think about it.  If your customer is in the midst of a purchase and needs more information before completing the transaction — you don’t want to rely on a static FAQ to complete the sale.

Instead, employ dynamic self-service solutions that not only provides a great knowledge-base but also supports a personalized escalation path for high touch customer issues.  Helping customers get to the right resource to resolve their issue is key –whether that be a human, a bot or otherwise.

(Learn how Intuit used Self-Service to deflect call center costs.)

5. 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. 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.  Which makes them a perfect setting to offer customer support. With self-service is quickly taking over as the preferred channel of customer support, adding a contact form, messaging channel, knowledge base, or even a support center to your social media pages provides your customers a completely new way to engage with you. One that is comfortable and convenient for them.

6. 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 dredges of online forums and social media streams to listen, manage feedback, create meaningful conversations and respond to customer queries. Community managers often hold the keys to helping build better products and services based on customer needs.  So it’s important to make it easy for customers to leave feedback on content and channels.  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.

7.  Constantly Offer Training Opportunities

It is detrimental to view training as a one time experience for customer reps. Refresher training is important, and training for new strategies, products, customer service techniques is sure to keep the team working together as a unified voice.

Do you want to learn more about self service? Check out this short article about how self-service can upgrade your customer support.

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