The rise of recommendations- and reviews-based platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor have given plenty of incentives to both customers and companies. The former can now share their experiences online, and the latter can maintain a good digital brand image. With Facebook and Google eliminating the limits of where a review can be posted, striving for that much sought-after 5-star rating is the new normal.
There has never been such a huge emphasis on feedback. Data shows that 97% of customers tend to check online reviews before hitting that ‘add to cart’ button. And to reach that next-to-final sales funnel stage, they need to verify the high rating and authenticity of reviews. Talk about the importance of social proof.
But how can a company ‘make it’ in the overly competitive business arena of the new decade? What is the single biggest indicator that matters the most for a company to stay profitable and continue acquiring loyal customers?
Enter strategic customer service practice. It involves hiring the right people, giving them the tools they need to provide exceptional service, and teaching them to nurture long-term customer relationships.
McKinsey & Company claims that “Today’s consumers do not buy just products or services—more and more, their purchase decisions revolve around buying into an idea and an experience”. This gives you a good outlook on what consumers look for when shopping.
It’s not sufficient to just have an innovative product or a service to offer anymore. You must deliver the best customer experience that will translate to higher online revenues and, ultimately, positive feedback.
Bad Customer Experience Equates To Losses
With less-than-favorable customer service comes an even worse customer experience. A report issued by New Voice Media states that over $62 billion is lost in revenue due to poor customer service. This number alone is enough to prompt you to reevaluate the way you treat customers on a daily basis.
Just like the bad press, bad customer experience is easier to prevent than to fix. To contribute to the 10% of customers who are satisfied with the experience they receive from brands, you have to make sure none of the statistics below applies to your company.
It’s good to know what not to do, but it’s even better to have a well-organized step-by-step plan. It can act as your guiding tool for cultivating customer service that will yield beneficial results. Below, find the best practices you should implement today [if you’re willing to be the number one player in the industry].
How To Be The Best In The Game
To reap the benefits of the digital-savvy customer service others will want to copy, keep on reading.
Use social media to engage
It’s hard to imagine a modern brand without some kind of a social media account (or the combination of a few). Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube – you name it, the odds are that your favorite brand is active on one or the other. And for a good reason – it’s an easy-to-implement customer service tool that allows you to create an online persona that differentiates you from competitors.
While the process of marketing your products or services on social media is straightforward, it gets trickier when it comes to customer service. You want to stay relevant, maintain a trustworthy image, build personal relationships with customers, and obtain new leads all at the same time. Sounds high-maintenance? Hardly.
As per Convince & Convert, 42% of customers anticipate a quick reply to their query that won’t take more than 60 minutes. You can achieve this by establishing the base hours during which the customer service reps answer the questions and signing up for a social media management tool like Sprout Social or Cisco SocialMiner that will keep the interactions nealy organized in one space.
Add a couple of engaging posts [and stories, if using Instagram and/or Facebook] with curated hashtags for exposure, engage in the ongoing or spark a new conversation, and add contact details to your bio for users to quickly reach you. This will ensure you’re on your way to creating meaningful relationships.
Here are a couple of great examples of how some brands use social media to connect with their audience.
Streamline your workforce processes via CRM platforms
To make the life of your customer service team easier, commit to a single CRM platform. Serving as a centralization tool that stores every customer interaction, it allows everyone on the team to stay up-to-date with the existing queries. Also, platforms have an analytic chart that keeps track of every conversation.
Miscommunication is a common source of customer-related issues, and it goes without saying that it has to be reduced to the minimum. Cases that can be solved by a quick look at the archive of similar ones require this type of a unified platform. It’s a win-win.
“Many SMEs today still handle customer interactions and store data using old-fashioned Excel sheets. And while these methods were useful in the past, they offer little long-term value on scalability, shareability, and customer insights”, says Arun Upadhyay, CEO of LionOBytes. He adds that “a CRM, however, can help small businesses better understand the needs and concerns of its customers, and be more precise and deliberate in nurturing those relationships.”
Incorporate 24/7 Live Chat support
Being accessible round-the-clock in the age of the internet is a no-brainer. Some questions need a prompt and eloquent answer, and they better be answered before the customer loses interest. Here’s where Live Chat comes into play.
The relatively new feature has already become the add-on that very few websites risk not incorporating. With 63% of customers reporting they’re more likely to return to the site that offers Live Chat, it’s only normal for people to be not just asking but demanding prompt replies. Apart from saving time by maximizing the productivity of your customer service team, it’s also proven to boost sales and result in a positive online review. Not too bad for a small right-bottom plug-in, right?
Live Chat is known to connect the customer with the agent in an instant. This eliminates the waiting time and enables the customer to multi-task. It also removes the intermediary like email that can delay the resolution of an issue for many hours if not days.
Take notes of these best practices that are likely to bring your customer service game to the next level.
- Place Live Chat window on the right bottom of the screen
- Ensure there’s a Live Chat window on every page of your website
- Respond in a timely manner
- Use co-browsing when live chatting
- Categorize chats by hashtags
The on-demand support like Live Chat goes a long way in ensuring your customer is heard. And that is worth going an extra mile for. Because with 86% of customers confessing that they’re willing to pay more for a great customer experience, 24/7 support is the fastest way to get satisfied customers who will tell their friends about your product/service.
Employ AI-powered chatbots for customer service inquiries
Artificial intelligence is on the rise, and there are plenty of benefits that come with it. Chatbots are one of them. Originally coined by Michael Mauldin, the term ‘chatbot’ was designed to help with automation when conducting online conversations. It has since grown to become a game-changing software tool for the biggest players on the market including Facebook, Spotify, Mastercard, Lyft, and the Wall Street Journal.
Take Facebook as an example. This tech giant allows:
- To confirm orders
- To track orders
- To promptly respond to the most commonly asked questions
- To notify customers of the delivery time
The chatbot allows users to engage with the content of your website in a matter of minutes – all while finding the answers to their questions without the help of the rep. The result? Quick problem-solving for the customers and a reduced workload for the rep team.
It’s not news that customers tend to ask the same questions over and over again. This means reduced productivity for the customer service team that can spend 80% of their time answering them. When a chatbot takes over, customers get what they came for while the in-house team handles more complex queries.
What’s great about the AI-powered chatbots is that they are constantly evolving. The more questions they answer, the better they get at giving accurate responses. This way similar phrasing and common inquiries are stored in the memory of the bot and are then processed for delivering smarter answers. How genius is that?
Don’t forget to respond to negative reviews
We know how tempting it might be to disregard the negative reviews and leave them out in the open. It’s even more enticing to respond with the turned-on defense mechanism that is likely to come off rude and unprofessional. But this should be avoided at all costs.
Instead, consider adopting the following 4-step strategy when responding to unsatisfied customers:
- Acknowledge the problem: even if the customer is wrong, it’s always better to thank him for his valuable feedback.
- Apologize for it: the two go hand in hand – if you admit to the issue, you have to provide an apology. To put it simply, it shows that you care.
- Explain the reason for the shortcoming (if there is one): sometimes an apology is enough but in other instances, there might be the need for a more detailed explanation. This way you’ll clear up the misunderstanding and [hopefully] not lose the customer.
- Compensate/invite for a phone call: be willing to incentivize the customer who’s had a negative experience with your product/service. It can take the form of a discount or a full reimbursement. Discussing the matter over the phone proves to be lucrative too – it adds a personalized approach and makes the customer feel important.
Give value in exchange for the feedback
Never underestimate the power of a good incentive. It works on dogs just like (or better) it does on humans. Don’t shy away from appealing to your customers who have been loyal to you – it will pay off.
For new brands building up their online feedback record, a freebie, a coupon, or free shipping can do wonders. It will send the right message that will turn first-timers into lifelong customers. The already established companies can benefit from hosting giveaways and offering exclusive discounts that are unavailable to the general public. This will create a sense of belongingness and spread the word about your product or service without extra ad spend.
Make Your Online Presence Notable
In the world where news hit inboxes faster than Amazon Prime packages hit front porches, creating a hard-to-forget digital presence is more important than ever. This isn’t limited to the product- or service-based brands only – it applies to every business.
As customers continue checking online reviews before they decide to take the offer, you must aim to underpromise and overdeliver. Engage with your customers through social media, use a top-rated CRM platform, incorporate Live Chat and a chatbot into your best practice, and make an effort to respond to positive and negative reviews alike.
Keep in mind that your customers are the face of your business, not the other way around. So, make sure they receive the best treatment they can get, or else they’ll find another company that will serve them better.
Interesting Related Article: ” 5 Ways To Improve Customer Service for Your Business“