By Casey O’Loughlin, Star2Star
When it comes to helping your business stand out from the rest, customer service can make a big difference. Having the right customer service tips under your belt can help your organization delight customers and reap the rewards of loyalty, word-of-mouth business, and cross-sales.
The name of the game is creating great experiences. Let’s face it—no one looks forward to making a customer service call. In fact, most dread it. Today’s customer service is rampant with phone trees, impersonal service, and information-gathering that annoys clients. But customer service tips for being more customer-centric can make your business stand out in a big way. As a unified communications (UC) provider with a 99.85% customer retention rate, Star2Star has nearly perfected the customer satisfaction experience for our UC clients. Here are five of our favorite tips to help you perfect yours.
Customers want to know that you care about their business. A good place to start is by simply being available to them. This means picking up the phone when it rings rather than letting it go to voicemail and responding to emails within a best-practice parameter (say, one hour). Your business phone system can really shine here with tools like call hunting and single-number reach across mobile, desk, and softphones. Similarly, unified mailboxes can collate voicemail (including visual voicemail), texts, emails, faxes, and more into one central location, accessible from any employee location. This cuts down on response delays and the tendency to overlook important calls that go to voicemail.
Follow Your Customers
There is nothing more frustrating than calling a customer service number, being asked for all kinds of personal information (often as part of the IVR), and then having to repeat that same information when transferred to an agent. Worse, if you are transferred to a different department, it’s likely that another agent will ask for all of the same information all over again. It sends the distinct impression that A) your service is deeply impersonal and B) your organization is inefficient and incapable of effectively handling customer data.
Instead, work towards creating customer profiles that follow them across their customer service “journey”. Ideally, this profile will unite disjointed silos of information that may exist in different departments, together with a timeline showing every interaction your business has had with that customer. Often accomplished via customer relationship management (CRM) integration, this ensures that the right information is available to adequately assist the caller in a knowledgeable way.
Engage Customers Where They Are
The way your business interacts with customers shouldn’t be static. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how they want to get answers and talk to customer service representatives. That means embracing multi- and omnichannel environments. Having a customer service approach that’s a proverbial one-trick pony–solid voice capabilities with an IVR, let’s say—may have been just fine in the past. But today’s customers are a mix of generations and have varying levels of tech-savviness. It’s important to have a platform that can provide voice, SMS, video, chat, and social media—so that the customer is in control of how they communicate.
Make It Personal
Technology can be a great help when it comes to customer service, but you also need to be careful to keep things personal. While things like automatically generated follow-up notices are helpful, make sure that the customer always has a way to connect with a live person, be it via phone, web chat, text, or other. Follow-up communications from actual human beings can go a long way to reinforcing for the customer that they matter to your business.
Help Customers Help Themselves
Great customer service isn’t always about direct interaction. In a quest for efficiency, more and more consumers and workers are looking to resolve their questions and issues via your website. Aspects of this strategy include FAQ pages, interactive help, screenshots and how-to videos, support discussion boards, and an authenticated portal (for accessing account information, submitting inquiries, trouble tickets, and more).
Having a strong self-service strategy means that your business is more efficient, thus saving your customers time, which they will appreciate. It also means that your business can always be available, even when your staff is not. Just make it clear that customers can escalate their interaction to a call or other direct contact during business hours when necessary (a click-to-call/message integration can be important here). When done right, self-service can be personal at scale.