As your business and your customer base both grow, your customer service endeavors will have to grow with them. There is a massive difference between offering support to a small, perhaps local, group of customers. Along with company growth come patrons of all kinds from all places, who will only be expecting more of you as they witness your successes.
Don’t panic. There are plenty of ways to handle the influx of customer questions, concerns, and issues. If you can’t afford to increase the staff of your customer service department, there are a number of tools that you can use to aid the staff you do have with their daily tasks.
The nice thing about forums is that you are essentially recruiting other customers to help you provide service. Yes, forums will also make it easier for you to track certain topics and situations with post titles and notifications. Not to mention, there is nothing more valuable for your business than positive, word-of-mouth feedback.
Customers who have already gone through your service experience can spread knowledge and help others troubleshoot problems without you even having to be involved! Given, you will have to moderate discussions to some degree.
There are a number of great, free forum software available, as well as some paid-for programs that may have more capabilities or more appealing designs.
Similar to forums in that they are community-based, your social media platforms are a great service tool. Right now, you may only be using them for advertising and keeping your customer/fan base up to date on the latest happenings at your company.
Make sure that your social media accounts, like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are monitored regularly by your staff. This is a quick and easy way for customers to message your company, link you to the things they have questions about, and express ideas or concerns. Many social media platforms allow for interactions between users who follow the same pages, so this is also a method for your customers to discuss things amongst themselves and connect with people who have similar interests.
Think about taking that chat capability from social media, and sticking it on your own website. As mentioned, live chat provides instant gratification for your customers. They can either go into a queue and see exactly how long they have to wait OR get help immediately from a real person.
We all love instant messaging - we use it daily when we text on our phones or message each other on Facebook. Bringing that component to your business is an excellent idea because it’s a behavior with which your customers are already super familiar.
Take a look at the free live chat software options out there (the most well-known of which is probably Salesforce), and see if it makes sense as a contact option for your customers.
Mobile applications are great because you can host anything you want on them. It can basically serve as a mini version of your website. You can put your forums there, connect your social media accounts, include a chat or non-instant messaging option, and, perhaps most importantly, house FAQs, how-tos, and knowledge articles.
A mobile app is a great way for your customers to take a user-friendly version of your site and your support on the go with them.
With some time and focus, you can even create your own application. There are a number of sites that help you design and build your app to suit your needs.
Support ticket systems
Ticketing systems can certainly help you to spread your customer service incidents out amongst your staff, as well as track issues from receipt to archiving. Speaking of archiving, these systems, usually web-based, can allow you to keep a history of your tickets within your online account, reducing, or sometimes even eliminating, the need for large shared drives or added computer memory to house all of your documentation.
An added bonus of many of these systems is the ability to run reports. Many of them come with customizable reporting that can be viewed from a dashboard or home page. Having data about your customer service activities can be useful when deciding where to allocate resources and where improvement may be necessary.
Another way to get a pulse on resource allocation is surveys. While many folks dislike taking part in these short assessments, advertising a survey as short and easy can help rope your customers into participating. Their responses can give you great insights on what channels of service they use most, how satisfied they are/were with that service, and how they would like to see you improve.
You can create surveys on your website by creating custom forms in the coding of your pages. If you don’t have someone who knows how to code, there are plenty of websites where you can customize a short survey, accessible to anyone with the link. Some are free, some cost money, and some are free with extra features that cost something. If you need deep analysis into your customer’s survey responses, you’ll want to check out a paid-for service with reporting capabilities.
Whatever channels you use to provide customer service, there is a tool out there for you to use that will allow you to streamline or improve your offerings. Whether you simply add a survey to get feedback on customer experience, or you change your support model completely to include live chat and a forum, it is undeniable that web tools are the way of the customer service future.
Of course, you don’t want to completely do away with your traditional offerings - there are, and always will be, people out there who prefer to call your company and speak to a live representative. That will never go away. But there are endless ways that your current, and likely popular, customer service channels can be supplemented, improving your customer’s experience and increasing your staff’s productivity simultaneously.