All businesses, especially those with ambitions of expanding, receive a lot of queries every day.
For small businesses, in particular, this can be overwhelming. That said, how you deal with these messages is vitally important. It will define the quality of your business's customer service and, ultimately, its reputation and future direction.
If messages receive no response, for example, this will reflect very badly on your company and will affect your ability both to attract and retain customers. By contrast, if you respond quickly and resolve your customers’ issues to their satisfaction, they won’t turn to your competitors for solutions.
Businesses that put customers first are 60 percent more profitable than companies that aren’t customer-focused. Therefore, if your customer service isn’t up to scratch, your business won’t grow to its full potential.
So, how can you improve your customer service?
1) Make it easy for customers to get in touch with you
If someone is making contact with you, in most cases it’s because something has gone wrong for them. Therefore, the least you can do is make it easy for them to contact you.
In practice, this means providing your customers with a range of options to get in touch. In this digital age, having just a phone number and an email address is not enough. You need multiple channels, and among them have to be text-based messaging services (WhatsApp, SMS, Live Chat and more).
This is because nowadays almost all consumers are comfortable communicating by text. In fact, they prefer it. It’s the same channel they use with friends and family on a daily basis, it allows them to multitask, interact at their own pace and pick up where they left off.
This is why almost two-thirds of consumers in the US would change company if the alternative offered text messaging as a contact method and 72 percent of customers would switch to a business that offered real-time text chat.
2) Make sure your offering is organised and omnichannel
If you lack organisation, keeping on top of all your customer interactions can be problematic. Customers could receive multiple or no response at all if you don’t have a good structure in place.
Studies show that companies that have embraced modern communication methods are 26 percent more profitable than their competitors; this means providing customer service that not only is multi-channel, but omnichannel too.
To make the customer experience as smooth as possible, all your agents should have access to your customers’ full history. One option is to keep good customer records with a CRM. This will include all interactions they’ve had with your business and their purchase records.
Being omnichannel could also mean using a universal inbox or shared team email, or giving agents access to all of your channels. In doing so, however, it’s important to use the same brand messaging irrespective of the way you’ve been contacted.
3) Respond quickly
With regard to retaining customers, response time is incredibly important.
When 90 percent of customers say that receiving a response within 10 minutes is either “important” or “very important” to them or, likewise, if around 57 percent of customers look elsewhere if they know they’re in for a long wait, it’s important not to leave your customers waiting. No one enjoys this, especially nowadays when everything is immediate.
Be sure to avoid long queues. Or if this isn’t possible, establish realistic waiting times (and keep to them), otherwise, your customers will go to your competitors.
4) Be personable and empathetic
It is proven that “humanised experiences” are incredibly important both at the moment of purchase and when deciding to repeat - or otherwise.
Two-thirds of customers say they would switch to another company if they weren’t being treated like “an individual”.
This is why offering multiple communication channels through which clients can interact with a real person is crucial.
Showing empathy is also a major part of this. Customers will always appreciate having their concerns or problems taken seriously. That’s why the use of language is incredibly important. Watch your tone and try to be as genuine as possible.
Here are nine good phrases to use that show you understand a customer’s concerns.
5) Give your team soft-skills training
It happens time and time again: people often read the text in a way that is more negative than was intended. This is the same for emails, live chat and messaging.
So, to avoid the communication channel taking the blame for a breakdown in relations, you should consider giving your customer service agents soft-skills training.
Training in conflict resolution, coping with the absence of body language or vocal cues, de-escalation, emotional intelligence and written communication can help you to offer a human touch in situations when text is your only tool.
6) Seek regular feedback and act on it
Feedback, especially if it comes directly from the customer’s mouth, is more valuable than any other service metric.
There are many different ways to seek this, including follow-up emails, customer interviews, comment sections/forums, service agent notes and, quite significantly, reviews (especially on third-party websites).
Because reviews are intended for the public domain, they often contain views that are especially candid - both for good and bad.
Be sure to pay close attention when you notice that customers are saying the same thing. This is often the first indication of something needing improvement.
If this is the case, make working on it a priority. And inform your customers that you’re doing that. Responding to reviews shows that you care about your customers’ concerns and they are being heard.
But why draw the line at customers? Your support team has hundreds of interactions daily in which they hear how your product is used and the problems that occur. Doesn’t it make sense, therefore, to listen to what they have to say too?
7) Be proactive, not just reactive
Responding to your clients is a cornerstone of customer service. However, sometimes you have to go above and beyond and anticipate potential problems before they’ve even occurred.
For many customers, they don’t want to ask for help. They want to see if they can find the answers for themselves. Contacting you is the last resort.
Therefore, help them to help themselves.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer and ask what questions they’re likely to have. Then, use this information to improve product descriptions or to create an FAQ section which can, in turn, be referred to when customers reach out to you. This can then speed up response times and allow your team to focus on more complex issues.
Alternatively, you can also create customer-led communities that allow people to share their knowledge about your services and experiences with your products.
That said, self-service content can’t be static or be left unmonitored. This content needs to be reviewed and renewed at least once a year to ensure that it is still up to date and not counterproductive.
8) Outsource your customer service
Having (and especially scaling) a dedicated customer service department is a big undertaking. It requires money, resources and willpower. But turning a blind eye is not an option.
Customers tell an average of 16 people about a negative customer service experience and this is bad for business both in the short and long term.
If you can’t manage a dedicated customer service team, or your existing team is struggling with message overload, this is where outsourcing could be a good option for you.
Companies like Atender can help you scale - even if your business is still in its infancy. They can offer shared customer service teams that even start-ups can afford and can take on all the work so that you don’t have to.
9) Invest in helpdesk software
However, doing it yourself doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Investing in helpdesk technology such as Superagent can solve many of the aforementioned issues and improve your existing customer service in a cost-effective manner.
This easy-to-use program makes it easier to organise your clients’ messages all in one place, without duplicates, and it makes it quicker to answer them too.
Through the use of Conversation Blocks, you can have a wide selection of template messages already prepared that anticipate certain scenarios or frequently asked questions. They can be loaded up and sent quickly thanks to keyboard shortcuts, allowing you to respond semi-automatically.
What’s more, with a tool like Superagent, you don’t have to choose which communication channels to prioritise. Offer SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger (coming soon) and many more to allow your customers to get in touch however they want.
Whether for desktop or mobile, download the program here and get yourself organised and on top of all enquiries so that you can increase revenues, improve customer satisfaction and create a better all-around experience for both customer and agent.