Excellent customer service helps retain the clients you have while attracting new ones. A positive brand image helps get your name into the community and draws foot traffic for brick-and-mortar stores or site visitors for virtual brands. Why is customer service such a vital part of surviving the digital age?
Retailers face stiff competition and other challenges in the current climate. Not only are people spending less money on nonessential items, but they have thousands of online retailers at their disposal. If you want your company to thrive, you must ramp up your efforts.
Why Is Digital Customer Experience Important?
People can feel lost in the shuffle. Many work remotely now and have few face-to-face interactions with other humans. Consumers are inundated with ads from the minute they wake up until they go to sleep at night. Without superb customer service, they may feel as though they are just a form of revenue to you and you don’t really care about their needs.
The lack of connection can mean they aren’t loyal to your brand, which hurts your bottom line when they bounce around from one company to another for their needs. Excellent service gives them that personalized feel and shows them you do care that they are your loyal customer and you appreciate them.
What Are the Reasons Superb Customer Service Is Vital Today?
Not only must you reach people and find a following online, but word spreads faster than in the past. Let’s imagine your company goofed up, or didn’t and someone is blaming you for it. They aren’t happy with the way they’re treated by the customer service rep they reach. What’s their next step?
You guessed it, they go online and lambast your brand to everyone who will listen. They write poor reviews that reflect negatively on your reputation anytime someone searches for your name.
Unfortunately, one disgruntled customer can create a lot of negative buzz for your business. Think about the last time you had an amazing experience with a company. You likely told family and friends and shared on social media how great they were. You were much more likely to buy from them in the future.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you had an awful experience and no resolution, you likely marked the company off for good and chose a competitor. You also probably told everyone you know not to do business with them and why. What can you do to ensure you’re hitting all the high notes? How can you get the positive word-of-mouth buzz and leave negative comments behind?
1. Start at the Top
Excellent customer service starts at the top of the company and is a philosophy that puts the customer first. Model for your employees just how important it is to keep everyone happy. Obviously, there may be times when you can’t satisfy a customer, but the goal should be to bend over backwards.
Write out your customer service philosophy. Give employees the power to solve problems without getting in trouble for instituting creative solutions. While you do need some guidelines to ensure you remain profitable, let them solve issues within those parameters however they’d like.
2. Focus on UX
Your website, app and store should offer an excellent user experience (UX). You’re competing with big name players such as Amazon and Walmart.com. If things are too complicated, it impacts the entire customer experience.
Make sure users can find things easily. Offer easy ways to get in touch and visible contact information. Work on the navigation hierarchy so it’s as intuitive as possible.
3. Ramp Up Your Mobile Experience
How well people can engage on their mobile devices can make or break your business model. In a mobile banking study, researchers found 89% of people used the mobile app, and upwards of 97% of millennials. You can improve your customer service simply by ensuring your mobile app works the way it’s intended.
Test everything thoroughly on multiple platforms, such as Android and iOS. Use good design practices, such as locating the navigation bar in the same place on each page and keeping the design uncluttered.
4. Adopt a Prevention Approach
Customer service agents hear the complaints, but it’s important to track down what caused the problem in the first place. If a product is defective, how can you fix it immediately? If a customer feels they were treated poorly, how can you offer additional training and improve the situation.
Use customer complaints and feedback to strive for prevention rather than constantly solving issues after they occur.
5. Speed Up Your Site
One thing that aggravates users is a slow loading site. In fact, many will leave before they even give you a chance to show whether you have superb customer service or not.
Think With Google looked at the impact of page load speeds a few years back. They found bounce rates increased 32% when load time rose from one second to three. The numbers are likely much higher today as the world is even more fast-paced and impatient in 2022.
Some ways you can speed up load times and also customer service response rates is by investing in a dedicated server. Optimise images and get rid of heavy scripts that might bog your site down.
If you want to offer excellent customer experience, it starts with how quickly your site loads. You can’t provide help if the user has to wait ten minutes for your live chat feature to load, for example.
6. Create a Service Tree
Know who is in charge of what so you don’t just bounce customers around without getting them the help they need. Have you ever called a customer service number and been told they are sending you to Department A. You are then sent to several other departments before landing back at the original starting position.
So much bouncing around frustrates customers and may lose you future business. Instead, have a tree so your operators know where to send the person for immediate assistance. No more bouncing around with no resolution.
7. Help Team Members Connect
The more in-tune your workers are with one another, the better they’ll be able to help customers. In the Salesforce State of Service Survey, 79% of customer service reps said they can’t provide excellent service because they don’t have complete information on previous interactions.
Open up database information to your CX team. Let them view past interactions, so your customers don’t constantly repeat the same story to each new person they speak with. A better connected team makes life easier for your customers and improves your customer service immediately.
8. Offer Live Chat
Many people prefer contacting a company via live chat or SMS. The process is faster and they don’t have to spend untold minutes on the phone answering computerized question prompts that seem to go nowhere.
Live chat gives you an opportunity to tap into artificial intelligence by programming in pre-questions meant to direct the person to the right customer service rep. You can also program in some commonly asked questions and answers to save additional time and effort.
If someone wants to know what time your store opens, they really don’t need to talk to a live agent. Their questions can easily be answered by the computer.
9. Exceed Expectations
What are your customers’ expectations for service? Knowing what your clients think you’ll provide can help ensure you don’t disappoint. Talk to your clients about what they’d like to see from you.
Study competitors. What are some of the high points of their customer service model? Are you doing those same things or do you need to ramp up your brand?
One example of excellent customer service comes from a story about Gaylord Opryland hotel. One of their customers loved the radio in her room. She stayed there consistently and looked for the same clock for three years. Desperate for one, she finally wrote the hotel and asked them where she could buy it.
When she got to the hotel during her next stay, there were two of the clocks left for her as a gift. This is the type of above and beyond customer service that creates positive buzz for a company and creates loyal, lifelong customers.
10. Personalize the Experience
Whenever possible, greet your customers by name. Keep in-depth notes about their preferences and past interactions. How have you solved any previous issues they had? What can you do to ensure the problems never occur again?
Start conversations with the person’s name and even say something like, “I see you’ve been our customer for 10 years. We value your loyalty. How can I help you today?”
Create buyer personas to represent your average customers. What makes them tick? Know the demographics and psychographics behind each segment of your audience so you can cater customer service programs to best meet their needs.
Ask for Customer Feedback
In addition to implementing the tips above, take the time to talk to your loyal customers. Ask them what would improve the customer service experience for them. What are you doing right and what can you improve? At the end of the day, you can add all the high tech you want, but if your customer isn’t satisfied, then it’s all for naught. Implement the features your clients want and your superb customer service will drive new people to try your brand.