Some businesses assume that they only need to offer limited customer service in order to satisfy upset consumers and resolve basic problems. Customer service is quickly becoming a value-added benefit that is the deciding factor with customer acquisition and retention rates. Companies that fail to invest the right amount of time, money and training on customer service will consistently lose their customers and market share. Here are five ways to keep customer service innovative, convenient and accommodating for consumers.
The best benefit of technology is that it offers so many ways to connect with customers. This means that businesses should offer multiple channels to connect with customers using their preferred communication style and method. Generally speaking, older consumers may prefer using phone calls and emails, but younger consumers may prefer apps and texting. Almost all consumers prefer using live chat to communicate with customer service reps because it is quick and easy. Almost all customers also get frustrated with customer service reps who lack empathy, patience or understanding. Consumers who feel that these customer service reps are apathetic will naturally feel the company doesn’t care.
Automated customer service options for payments, billing queries and returns should be user-friendly. There should be online instructions that are simple and easy to follow. These services can be tailored to customers by soliciting and implementing feedback. Customer service managers must personally analyze and experience their online payment funnels in order to understand common problems. There should be alternative payment modes that accept credit cards, electronic banking funds and smart money cards. More and more consumers are moving away from credit cards to electronic payment services like PayPal. International consumers are more likely to favor these electronic payment services over American-based credit cards.
Social Media Communities
One of the best technologies for connecting with customers and improving business-customer relations is social media. These channels and platforms allow customers to connect with businesses on their own terms. Companies should develop and implement a social media strategy that incorporates everything from webinars to blog posts to infographics to how-to videos. Companies can use social media channels to respond to customer service inquiries and complaints. Maintaining an online presence isn’t enough because companies must actively monitor social media trends and posts in order to quickly manage complaints and PR problems.
Organizations must offer consumers 24-hour customer service that utilizes all communication forms. Every though social media, instance messaging and email are becoming more popular, most consumers still prefer to speak to a live customer service rep. However, many companies avoid employing more customer service reps because they want to save money. This in turn results in customers being put on hold for long periods of time or being forced to leave voicemails. This chronic problem is very irritating for consumers who can easily take their business elsewhere. Phone technology solutions can inform customers of how long they’ll be on hold, provide additional resources and identify the peak busy periods. In some cases, call center outsourcing can result in better service options and quality.
Promote Technology-based Self-Reliance
Many tech savvy consumers prefer to independently resolve their own problems and dislike having to ask for help. Offering self-service technology solutions is an excellent part of customer service programs. Consumers can access a wealth of important information through websites that list FAQs, operating hours, contact information and store policies regarding quality, complaints and returns. When all of this information of succinctly organized on the website, this adds credibility to the brand. On-site technology solutions should include self-service kiosks and scannable mobile apps.
There are many real-world scenarios that businesses can use technology to improve or problem solve. Technology is an expensive investment, so solutions should be scalable and flexible. Forbes magazine offers additional advice on how to use technology to improve customer service here.