There are so many ways that customers can get in touch with your company. Every customer is going to prefer and try something different, and you need to be prepared to accommodate that. As a customer service agent, you must grow your skillset and offer communication through new channels as your company expands.
From the more classic channels to ones that have just surfaced as effective ways to communicate with customers, there is unlimited opportunity for you to increase the quality of your customers’ experiences with your company. Here are a few channels that you should make sure you have up and running and can effectively manage for specific types of interactions.
The art of the email
Nearly any website you visit has a “Contact Us” page. This page usually has an email address or a contact form on it. Either way, customers are used to sending emails, and will generally do so when they need answers, but not very urgently.
They aren’t as likely to go on angry rants in an email, so email is better for short exchanges that are not time sensitive, like checking shipping status or asking for product details. And even though this can be a less personal way to interact, customers are still expecting a quality service experience through this channel. It may seem trivial, but don’t hesitate to customize the information in your emails, even if they are from a template.
On-demand chat support
Chat functions are great for technical issues. If you are a technology company (software, hardware, etc.), chat support can be a great way to work through issues with your customer in near real time. They can share any error messages they are getting, see your instructions written very clearly, and, on some platforms, add screenshots to help you diagnose their problem.
This can be a personal, quick conversation that leaves a customer very satisfied, but just be sure that you don’t accidentally get too casual with these interactions. Having ready to go answers that can be copy/pasted and adapted when necessary are a great way to answer quickly and effectively.
Everyone’s favorite: social networks
Speaking of casual interactions, social networks are the perfect place for one-off questions and finding those customers who would rather talk about their issues on the internet instead of with you. If you have a company Facebook page or Twitter account, customers are bound to attempt to interact with them as if someone is monitoring them 24/7. So monitor them!
Customers may write on your timeline, comment on photos, or send you an instant message hoping to get some quick information. Take their public outcry and turn it into a public statement that you are placing their experience and your service offerings at the forefront.
Community interaction through forums and message boards
This one definitely needs some moderation, but can be super helpful for both you and other customers. When your customers interact with each other, there is always an opportunity to learn new things. They can teach others, and they can teach you about the ways in which your products or services are being used.
You can also use these community interactions to scope out areas for improvement in your business AND customer service offerings.
Use this channel to distribute important information where anyone participating in the conversation can see it. You will have to keep an eye out for any rogue customers, but that is a small price to pay for a communication channel that is so widely accessible.
The classic phone call
The phone is a customer service staple. Even in an age where people are becoming more and more isolated, the personal interaction of a phone conversation will always be the preferred method of service for a large portion of your customer base.
You should be prepared to handle any situation over the phone. Whether someone wants to check on an order status, ask a question about your product/service, troubleshoot a problem, log a customer complaint/suggestion, etc., a dedicated call agent should be ready to handle the situation effectively and politely.
This is arguably the most versatile customer service channel, because discussing issues in real time, hearing the problem straight from the mouth of the customer, can lead to quick breakthroughs and solutions.
Super simple self-service
As mentioned above, people today tend toward wanting to figure things out on their own. Many of your customers will likely want to get answers without having to interact with a single representative, verbally or digitally. This is arguably the SECOND most versatile customer service channel, because you can put any information you want into your self-service knowledge base so that it is basically as informative as a live agent.
What kicks it to second place is that the personal touch and ability to make connections to help solve issues disappears. But that’s okay!
Customers using this kind of service/channel are likely browsing for answers at their own pace.
They are probably used to looking for answers by themselves. In fact, they are probably also utilizing community forums and/or social media to source their own solution. A well-stocked library of knowledge articles and FAQs is a powerful tool as your business expands, allowing some of your customers to divert their issues through other channels that don’t tie up as many agents.
You never know what you’re going to get from each customer. Until the interaction begins, there is no way to know if they are going to complain, suggest, question, or even compliment your business’ product/service or your actual customer service experience.You have to be prepared for anything. The best way to do this is to have a variety of channels set up, manned, and ready for problem-solving at the drop of a hat.
As you grow, your customers will expect your service offerings to grow. And they are right to expect that! You can’t keep up with a growing customer base without growing your capabilities and efforts. Mastering communication through every channel possible is a critical part of ensuring that your customers’ experiences are positive, productive, and conducive to continued business.