Do you often ask yourself, “How do I improve customer service?” This is the Age of the Customer, where customer service is the main differentiator that makes you stand out. By 2019, the technology research company Gartner estimates that 81% of companies will compete on the basis of customer experience.
Improve customer service with the right tools
In today’s increasingly demanding business landscape, you need to have the right technology to keep up. A good customer relationship management (CRM) system is a necessity. Your CRM should give you good mobile support since many customers will contact you through their phones.
Your industry and customers will determine the support channel you prefer. Ideally, you have telephone, live chat, email, and social media. The important thing is to transition seamlessly between all of them. Most customers expect a consistent omnichannel experience regardless of the method they use to contact you.
Create a good customer service strategy
Your customer service team shouldn’t be the only ones designing your customer experience strategy. Get buy-in from everyone so that you have a well-rounded view.
Departments such as marketing, tech support, and billing will probably have valuable insights into areas of the customer journey that you might not have thought to explore.
In general, a customer-focused culture will naturally build a balanced customer experience strategy. Everyone will work together to provide the best service, instead of focusing on their own little section of the business. They can bring their unique perspectives to bear on the problem.
Listen to feedback
If you’re serious about wanting to improve customer service, you should maintain a constant feedback loop. Ask customers about their experience with your company, their needs, desires, and expectations. Create customer experience maps for all the demographic segments of your customer base. You’ll be able to track your customer’s journey from when they first heard about you to their first purchase and subsequent involvement with your company.
Look for ways to create smooth, pleasant experiences at every stage.
Make it easy for customers to contact you, whether by phone, email, live chat, or social media. Maintain good records. When someone calls, your staff should have the customer’s history at their fingertips, including previous issues and all relevant account information.
Don’t make customers repeat themselves. If possible, it’s a good idea to retain your customers' browsing information, so that every time they visit your website they can pick up where they left off.
Solicit feedback from your staff too, especially the people in customer-facing positions. Some companies get stuck in the old-fashioned top-down model of information flow – commands come down from management and employees are expected to obey. This type of business does not have the agility necessary to survive in the modern world.
It takes the whole-hearted efforts of the entire company, with all its members, to improve customer service to a competitive level.
Show your appreciation for existing customers
Don’t get caught up in chasing shiny new customers so much that you ignore the customers who are with you now. For one thing, retaining old customers costs less. For another, treating long-term customers well enhances your reputation.
Let people know that you are trustworthy by building relationships over time. Loyal customers can be your best advocates. They’re invested in your brand, thinking of you as a friend and ally. Of course, the best way to achieve this type of relationship with your customers is to genuinely care about them.
Have a good FAQ page and customer self-service options
Use photos and diagrams to add color and interest. Consider including videos to demonstrate complicated procedures, or just to put a personal face to your business.
If you really want to be on the cutting edge of improving customer service, you can incorporate augmented reality (AR) technology. AR overlays computer-generated images on the customer’s camera feed. It started out as an amusing novelty on video calls, but if you can think of ways to use it in your customer experience you’ll really stand out from the competition.
Make the most of social media
Monitor the internet for mentions. Take a special interest in social networking sites and review sites.
Answer all reviews, questions, and comments, whether positive or negative.
This shows customers that you care about them and are attentive to their needs – this is crucial when your goal is to improve customer service.
Software such as Conversocial can create a social media ticket queue. It analyzes customer word choice to see how they’re feeling about you and prioritizes tickets accordingly.
You can also feature customers on your social media pages (with their consent, of course). Most people would enjoy the fame and attention. You don’t need to limit it to power customers. Perhaps you can assist customers who need special help, or hold events that show your commitment to your values.
Surprise and delight your customers
The key word here is ‘surprise.’ If you go above and beyond in every interaction it becomes the new normal and is eventually demanded as a right. When you give something unexpected it lights up the reward centers of the brain in a way that even the best everyday service cannot.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Even a couple of mints, delivered at the right time, can improve your customers’ view of you and your company.
Keep track of how you’re doing
That which is measured improves. A good quality assurance program will help you monitor your metrics so you can design your customer experience strategy based on real information.
With good solid data, you’ll be able to see which of your initiatives are working and which might need to be scrapped.
Knowing your return on investment will help you create the best possible customer service structure for your business, and point towards the ways you can improve in the future. You’ll know what to invest in to improve your customer experience. This is one of the best ways to attract new customers and retain old ones.