Improve your business' customer service while building clientele with these tips to make customers feel like VIPs.
Many businesses are looking for a competitive edge wherever they can find one. At the same time, customers are in search of a shopping experience that is both seamless and valuable—and enjoyable, too. This means customer appreciation is paramount for companies looking to gain an advantage over their peers. Businesses who can provide a best-in-class experience for their customers see more of those customers return, as well as refer their friends and neighbors—two vital elements of successful sales.
There are several key tactics businesses can employ to improve or evolve their customer service efforts. Technological innovations have made it easier to deliver unparalleled customer service for in-person and online sales. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to rely on e-commerce, it’s never been more important to find ways to make customer service a priority.
Multi-Channel Communication is a Must
The rise in online retail also paved the way for customers to expect a variety of ways to reach out for more information about—or issues with—their order. Businesses can’t get by with a phone number and a general email inbox to serve as the sole means of customer service communication. Now, customers expect to be able to reach a representative via phone, email, chat and social media.
Thankfully, it’s never been cheaper or easier for businesses to establish a multi-channel communications setup. Social media platforms offer businesses messaging capabilities designed for customer queries, and call routing services can make it easier to field phone calls from customers across several phone lines. This does away with the need to field all calls through one number: now, calls can forward to one or several other phone numbers, making it easier for you to answer questions wherever you are.
Respond and Resolve Issues Quickly
The pace at which businesses are expected to operate online has narrowed the response time for customer service queries significantly. Customers now expect a 24-hour response window for their queries: any longer and a business may take on reputational risk and the increasing likelihood of a negative review online. This puts additional pressure on businesses to respond quickly and resolve issues as fast as possible—but also gives companies an advantage when they can act fast.
Customers expect responses in real-time, even if it’s a simple acknowledgment from a live person. Businesses don’t necessarily have to answer questions right away, but customers do want to know that someone is on their case. Creating a 12-hour response policy is a great place for many businesses to start. Next, businesses should create a ticketing and queuing system that routes customer issues to the right department immediately. This reduces wait time as your customer service team escalates issues manually.
In some cases, it may be best to offer outright refunds or product exchanges. Although this may cost more money than trying to troubleshoot an issue on an existing order, customers are much more likely to do repeat business with a company willing to go the extra mile for their satisfaction.
Offer 24/7 Support
Many customers also expect businesses to offer some form of 24/7 support nowadays—particularly when shopping online. This can create a challenge for businesses that may not have the personal capital to offer round-the-clock support, but there are emerging solutions that can make some level of always-on customer support a reality.
Thankfully, businesses can take advantage of several new technologies that make it easier to provide high-touch support for their customers. Chatbots have become increasingly sophisticated and more affordable for businesses of any size. Most chatbots are now capable of solving low-level problems on their own and escalating those they can’t. Customer service phone systems are more affordable than ever, and several are tailored specifically to small and medium-sized businesses. Email support has also become more sophisticated and easier to operate, with much of the ticketing and prioritization work now automated.
Make Personalization Paramount
The more businesses can personalize their interactions with prospective and current customers the more sophisticated their operation appears to would-be clients. Plus, in an increasingly competitive landscape, the personal touch can go a long way towards building a deeper customer relationship that turns buyers into brand evangelists.
There are a host of quick and easy ways businesses can personalize their customer experience. These include messages about upcoming online sales geared toward a customer’s purchase or browsing history, tailored newsletter mailings, and other small touches that make customers feel valued. Getting personal means collecting data and knowing how to parse it, however, so a solid analytics platform is a must.
Don’t undervalue the benefit of low-tech efforts, however. A hand-written note inside a package can go a long way toward impressing customers. An email or a phone call to ask someone if they’re enjoying their purchase can also make a customer feel valued.
Encourage Reviews and Feedback
Reviews have become the backbone of e-commerce in recent years. Consumers are savvy and willing to invest time into checking out other peoples’ experiences by way of reviews. Businesses can’t afford to overlook the value and importance of their online reviews and should also take proactive steps to turn their VIP customer service experience into positive reviews online. The same is true for soliciting feedback, as handling issues offline and away from public forums can mitigate the risk of negative reviews.
Ideally, businesses should seek out customer feedback early in the buying experience. Post-purchase surveys can help you get feedback on how your customers feel about their experience. Those who express negative sentiments can be contacted to solve problems before the customer writes a negative review in public. On the other hand, customers who provide you with high marks can also be contacted and encouraged to leave positive reviews, which can have a significant impact on overall business and brand reputation.
Customer service is increasingly important as customers have the time and patience to shop for the best value. Nowadays, value isn’t just defined in terms of price: a positive experience can also be the difference-maker for a person’s purchasing decision. As challenging as it is for businesses to offer a robust customer experience online, there are strategies (and technologies) that make it easier to do so. Harnessing the right ones for your business can pay for itself in terms of new and returning business.