As the business landscape changes, the avenues to provide excellent customer service are expanding as well. In the digital age and the era of eCommerce, people can interact with a brand via phone, email, online over live chat or through web forms, through a mobile app, or on social media. Customer service that is convenient, smooth, and comprehensive assumes a greater significance in this context.
In order to achieve the above, a business should provide multiple ways for customers to connect to it and experiment with the novelty of modern technologies to provide a great shopping experience to its customers.
People that have a natural inclination towards customer service will always be in a better position to understand the pulse of the customer and service them accordingly. The customer service representative should be people who can deliver results, rather than those who are cost-effective. A team that is enthusiastic, innovative, and experienced is able to deliver consistent, quality results, multiplying the brand value with every interaction with the prospect. Company culture also plays an important part here.
A “good” first impression is passé. In this fiercely competitive business world, the keyword is a “great” first impression. For many businesses, long–term relationships are the ones that have a great beginning. Also, with a shaky start, customers will unapologetically lose confidence in the brand – leave aside the fact that they will surely not go ahead with placing orders. As per research conducted, conducted in 2014, 25% of customers will switch their preference towards other brands after one negative experience.
Companies that have realized this fact have already started perfecting the art of the first impression, and ensure that the first interaction through customer service with the customer communicates their passion, capability, culture, and brand values, and distinguishing features.
Customer service often comes into the picture when there is an issue to resolve. By this time, the customer is already angry, disappointed, or confused. Thus, the relationship starts with a negative feeling towards the brand and is a deterrent to creating a long-term relationship. It is advised that customer service representatives should have a proactive approach and contact the customers as soon as they seem to be getting confused.
Analytics, such as time spent on a webpage, can be of great assistance in this context. Likewise, if prospects contact customer service in an agitated mood, care should be taken to handle such interactions with patience to calm them down and try and rebuild the trust in the brand.
If convenience is the driving force for sales today, then giving respect to customers’ time assumes a priority. In this regard, it is important that customer service agents provide fast and comprehensible solutions for customers. Fewer protocols and a definite escalation path should be designed for faster addressing of issues.
In this age of digital technology, the customer can contact the brand anytime, anywhere, and with any device. Inconsistency in tone and approach with a change in the communication channel should be avoided. Businesses often fail to take into consideration the 360-degree approach towards a customer, complicating customer service and diluting the brand experience. Customer service agents should be trained in all mediums and be able to communicate the same brand values and message on all of them. Companies that have understood the benefits and complexities of constant connectivity and digital media have already received an edge when it comes to seamless customer service.
Contemporary marketing strategy has become much more personalized, and customer service is one area where the impact is profound. Businesses need to cast away their conventional approach to customer service and be much more friendly, empathetic and honest – just as a friend would solve/ guide an issue. This makes the brand much more approachable and plays a role in building loyalty.
The latest call center technology offers features for Automatic Call Distributor, Reporting Engine, IVR, and more. Email management software has a facility for tracking, history, notifications, and more. Live chat software provides chat transcripts and options to chat with multiple users simultaneously. As technology advances, customer service should capitalize on all the features to deliver the best possible experience to the customer.
It is important to capture all relevant matrices to be able to formulate strategies for further improvement of customer service. Data such as how long it took to close an issue, average length of call, email exchange, which medium is preferred by customers, which language, etc., could be useful insights for further planning.
The demand for customer service can increase during seasonal sales and the holidays. At such a time, the number of customer service agents and technology resources should be proportionately increased or allocated so as to ensure there is no drastic fall in the level of care and support that patrons have come to expect from the brand. A robust strategy for customer service has to be put in place for such spikes in business volume, taking into account the history of the business and competitive analysis.
According to Forrester’s ‘Top Trends for Customer Service in 2014’ article, delivering pain-free customer service, proactive engagement, and personalized interactions are among the customer-centric measures that companies have to take. With optimized customer service, they will certainly have a distinct edge in the market and be able to sustain long-term relationships with their valued customers.