5 Signs Your Customer Service Needs a Revamp

Customer service is a decisive factor when it comes to client retention and loyalty. Bad service not only leads to a client leaving but also generates negative word of mouth which can tarnish brand image. In order to avoid being in a situation where your customers start leaving you because of bad service experience, be proactive in identifying problems and issues before they lead to downfall for your business. There are several metrics such as first response time and first contact resolution which should be monitored regularly to determine the level of service being offered. Here are a few signs you need to look out for which will indicate that it’s time to revisit your customer care strategies.

Isn’t Timely

Problem 1: Abdullah gets in contact with your CSR but 15 minutes into the conversation, his problem still isn’t resolved even though it involved very simple and quick steps.

Problem 2: Sarah sent you an email inquiring about delivery status. Three days have passed but she is still unaware and uninformed of when she will be receiving the product she ordered.

Time is valuable for customers and your business. If your support department is unable to provide a solution for your clients in a timely manner, not only will it garner negative sentiments but it will also impact your rapport and even cost you more money in the longer run.

Isn’t Efficient

Problem 1: Daniel registered a complaint with one CSR. He called the next day to check progress but this CSR had no clue and Daniel had to repeat the entire complaint again.

Problem 2: Norah put in a query for a service upgrade but she wasn’t informed on the change by your customer service and nobody followed up.

Efficiency is crucial for problem-solving. A competent support team is great at what it does and does it efficiently to save time and resources of the client as well as the business. Streamlined processes are necessary to deliver great service. In this regard, latest technology and customer service training programs can be incorporated to improve efficiency.

Doesn’t Solve Problems

Problem 1: Matt was using your software on a different platform and had trouble operating it properly. None of your CSRs were able to solve the issue for him and furthermore, asked him to call a different department to get the issue fixed.

Problem 2: Linda bought your product and had a few questions. She contacted your support but wasn’t provided with a satisfactory solution. Nobody followed up with her to answer her query.

Customers put in queries before, during and especially after they have purchased your product/service. Your support mechanisms and staff should be competent enough to solve the problem and add convenience for customers. Implementing customer service best practices would help solve issues.

Negative Customer Sentiments

Problem 1: Ali is a loyal customer who wanted his wife to switch to your service too but the CSR was least bothered to lend a helping hand and register on their behalf.

Problem 2: Nancy is a repeat customer and needed to cancel her booking at the last moment due to an accident in the family but her booking was neither canceled nor a refund offered.

Customer sentiments are never to be taken lightly. The slightest of misunderstanding will result in ruining the business-customer relationship. Show empathy and take steps to deal with customer complaints to achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Declining Revenue

Problem 1: Alan required more information about your product before making a buying decision but his query was not entertained properly so he switched to your competitor.

Problem 2: Fatima bought a product from you which was faulty. She was furious and got in touch with the post-sales support team for a replacement. Instead of showing empathy and reassuring her, she wasn’t even given a clear timeline on when the product would be replaced. She decided it was the last time she ever bought something from your company.

Bad customer service adversely affects your overall revenue. If your revenue graph is plummeting, ensure that your client care is effectively resolving your consumers’ queries, complaints and issues. Excellent customer service equals more revenue!

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Super Support Agent?

In every customer support team, there are some agents who stand out in every aspect as they understand how to meet and exceed customer expectations, needs and demands. These individuals may be termed as ‘super-agents’. Their expertise includes extensive knowledge of the products/services of their business as well as enhanced soft skills that help them cater to clients efficiently. Here are a few indicators that will help you determine if your customer service skills are up to par with those of super-agents:

Extensive Knowledge of the Business

Scenario: Super-agent confirms product availability alongside guiding the customer on specifications, price, delivery time and warranty details.

A super-agent is equipped with extensive knowledge and great understanding of every aspect of the business. When a customer poses a query, they already have answers due to their knowledge and through experience. Be it product, service, company policies, procedures or even technical complications; the super-agent will easily resolve an issue in the quickest and the best possible manner. They don’t require handing over problems to seniors or colleagues, they are equipped and trained to take care of it themselves.

A Proactive Approach

Scenario: Customer enquires about service upgrade, super-agent answers but notices that the subscription ends next month. So he/she proactively informs, asks and renews it then and there.

The agent is always available and reaches out to guide the customer throughout their journey with the company. With detailed insight, a super-agent is always on the lookout for chances to improve the experience for customers. This includes taking preemptive measures to overcome hurdles without any commotion. Super-agents have the best interests of clients and the business at heart, so alongside resolving issues, they also keenly observe any hiccups the business might face in the future. They timely inform concerned personnel to subdue glitches beforehand.

Display Emotional Intelligence

Scenario: An angry client contacts customer service to vent how he/she is feeling annoyed because of the company. Super-agents gracefully handle these difficult clients by empathizing and offering a solution that is a perfect fit.

No matter what business or industry you belong to, you will inevitably face unhappy customers at one point or another. A super-agent is emotionally intelligent enough to recognize, listen and understand the situation from the client’s perspective. Their ability to connect on a deeper level enables them to diffuse the situation and provide a workable solution. They know how to use the right words by being perceptive to customers’ gestures and words.

Ability to Create Interesting Conversations

Scenario: It’s El Classico and everyone’s watching but suddenly the customer faces difficulty in using your product/service. While resolving the query, super-agent strikes up sports talk and cheers with them.

The art of conversation and storytelling comes naturally to a super-agent. They know how to initiate interesting conversations and how to keep them going. Their communication skills empower them to engage the client consistently and meaningfully. A common ground, a common interest will be pinpointed and every conversation from then onwards will be directed with metaphors and parables to connect profoundly.

Be Able to Employ Creative and Critical Thinking

Scenario: At times, there are new situations or problems presented by clients that the company hasn’t dealt with before. In such a scenario, super-agents analyze the situation to find a solution to make the customer happy.

For situations that require out-of-the-box thinking to resolve customer’s complaint, the super-agent employs creativity to come up with unconventional solutions. This helps in creating more customer satisfaction. Due to their analytical nature, the super-agent is able to quickly assess every situation from every perspective and come up with a conclusive answer which helps in achieving the ‘wow’ factor.

Getting Things Done on Time

Scenario: A client contacts you and wants his issue resolved immediately. Super-agent was already busy with a ticket but takes on this new challenge and manages to complete both in time.
Time management is an essential soft skill that is required by every support agent. Utilizing customer service best practices, a super-agent handles multiple tasks if need be but always gets the job done within the timeframe. This involves prioritizing tasks, breaking it down and creating timelines. When effectively trained by customer service trainers, they become proficient, self-sufficient and accountable to themselves. This accountability motivates them to skillfully manage time to achieve results.

3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Customer retention is one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses when so many choices are readily available to consumers. They may engage with you once, buy from you but then abandon your business for a competitor for one reason or another. So how do you retain them? How do you keep them coming back? The answer lies in various techniques that can be employed to keep them interested and engaged. This could be product related such as quality, innovation and competitive price or related to service experience or brand image. Having an approach which is customer-centric is crucial to retention. Here are a few ideas on how to ensure your clients keep choosing you:

 

Focus on Customer Needs and Expectations

The first thing your business should do is identify customer needs and expectations. Once you have these mapped out, you can tailor your products/services in a manner that not only meets but also exceeds their expectations. Understanding what customers want and developing your solutions and processes to better serve their needs will help in creating more loyal clientele. Put yourself in their shoes to get a clear picture of what they want. For instance, customers might be expecting round the clock support from your business while you’re only offering 9-5. Similarly, your product pricing might be higher than their expectation or the experience you’re offering does not match the perception you have created in their minds through your marketing campaigns. All this needs to be analyzed to ensure they come back again. Once customers have made a purchase, stay in touch with them and get their feedback to evaluate what needs to be added to ensure long term retention. Analyze interactions at every touch point and stay relevant for your customers. Make all your processes simple and easy to ensure more convenience for them.

Value Your Customers through Words and Actions

Customer happiness is important for retention. For this, you need to make people feel valued through your words and actions. Your business needs to stay in touch and keep reminding them through gestures that your company cares. Simple steps such as sending them free samples every time you launch a new product, giving them discount vouchers on every purchase or sending them a little gift basket on special occasions will make them feel valued. Offer them more than your competitors in terms of both product and service, treating them like a loved one. Loyalty programs, surprise gifts and giveaways are all efforts in the right direction. While such material benefits are a great way to get their attention, human contact is what enriches experience and will make them remember you. Listen carefully to what they want, answer their queries with patience and in detail, follow up regularly and solve their problems, these are some customer service best practices which will play in your favor.

Build Better, Stronger Connections

As a business, you not only need to get attention but also make sure customers keep thinking about you every time they decide to make a purchase. Having a customer-centric approach helps in creating stronger relationships. Communication is essential when it comes to relationship building. From the first touch point where the customer becomes aware of your business till they’ve made the purchase and what follows, how you communicate is what will impact them. Focus on the tone, language and gestures used during interaction. Train your staff to show empathy and use emotional intelligence for more personalized interaction. Keep the sentiments of customers in perspective throughout their journey to create a stronger bond with them. This will help in creating the right impression in their minds. Similarly, organize different events where you can invite and connect with them in a more personalized manner. People buy from people and they are more likely to stay with a company that has gone the extra mile to build a connection with them.

How to Offer Great Customer Service on a Budget

Research suggests that for customers of today, effective client care and positive consumer experiences are a decisive factor in staying loyal to a business. If you are a startup or a small business, how do you manage to offer great service without having a large budget? One of the most important elements is to focus on building relationships and focusing on personalized experiences for your clients. Stay in touch with them on a regular basis to understand their needs and expectations. For clients who have a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset, the solution lies in providing them with self-help methods and then be ready if they need your expertise. Here are a few customer service best practices your business can adopt to deliver exceptional service on a budget:

 

Promote a Service-Centric Attitude

If you’re a small business or a startup, the lack of numbers can play greatly to your advantage as you can offer more personalized service to your clientele. The impactful human touch which will be available in every one-on-one interaction will result in more satisfaction and increase the possibility of loyalty. Conduct regular customer service training to teach your staff essential soft skills so they may be able to deal with client queries in a more effective way. If you promote a service-centric attitude early on, it can act as a USP and help in building a positive brand image. Being readily available and empathetic towards clients will cost your business nothing and goes a long way in establishing your brand.

Be Present on Social Platforms

Social platforms are gradually becoming the next frontline for customer service. In this age of e-commerce and digital devices, it is essential that you stay in touch with consumers on their social platforms of choice. Social media customer support also costs less than phone support. The only investment will be dedicating a resource to keep a track of what your customers are asking for or saying about you. Watch out for mentions to cater prompt and accurate replies. Since social platforms are personal, it is helpful in building long-lasting relationships and offering more personalized solutions. Due to the public nature of platforms, if carried out correctly, social care can be an indirect means of generating positive PR for your business.

Offer In-Depth Knowledge base

The 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report states that ‘90% of consumers now expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal’. The millennial customers of today often prefer working out a solution on their own instead of getting in touch with a business. Hence, an in-depth knowledge base becomes the means of offering support. For consumers, it cancels out the need to reach out to businesses to resolve basic issues. For businesses, it is a one-time investment which is both effective and inexpensive. If your business has limited resources, it is essential to create a detailed knowledge base which should include frequently asked questions (FAQs) and audio/video tutorials. Even if you have a small support team, a comprehensive knowledge base will help in handling preliminary issues.

Educate Through Specialized Content

Another effective way to deliver customer service in a limited budget is to educate your clients through a specialized content strategy. You can use queries from your knowledge base and expand on them to create scenarios that are at once recognizable and easily relatable. Write blogs, create vlogs and conduct webinars to target issues/complaints in a more conversational manner. Use simple words and sentences to get your message across. Create appealing visuals in the form of infographics, GIFs, etc, to make these comprehensible for a much wider audience.

5 Tips on Offering Effective Customer Service to Millennials

Millennials today have stronger purchasing power than before and businesses are looking to devise strategies to attract and engage this tech-savvy generation. With the internet being at the core of their daily lives, Millennials have mastered the skill of communicating through email, texting, social media and apps. They expect companies to be available to them on all digital platforms. When it comes to customer service, what do Millennials expect from businesses? What are their needs and how can they be catered to? Here are a few essential tips on how to offer impactful and effective service to Millennials:

The Need for Instant Gratification

Instant gratification means that a desired need is fulfilled as soon as it appears. Millennials expect instant and immediate response and solutions to their problems. Technology has a major role to play in transforming their minds as such. They are connected 24/7 to the internet as are their social profiles which notify them every second there is an activity. Due to this constant exchange of information, Millennials have a natural tendency to expect this same gratification in all aspects of the businesses they connect with and invest in. Hence, businesses have to offer instant customer care or risk losing this biggest consumer group of the time. Since customer service channels such as a live chat and social media have minimum response time, these are the ones that Millennials prefer the most.

Text is the Preferred Mode of Communication

Since the boom of smartphones, customers, especially Millennials, prefer having text-based conversations for both their personal and professional needs. As texting is convenient and can easily be managed alongside other tasks, they prefer to contact one another and businesses through messaging apps and chat. In recent years, this mode of live communication has been utilized mainly by customer service, marketing and sales departments. Many businesses have adopted conversational commerce to strategize according to Millennials by offering chat on their websites and within their apps.

The Do-It-Yourself Movement

The cognitive bias ‘IKEA effect’ states that consumers value a product more if they had a part in its making or in its final outcome. This innate trait to create is what drives consumers to be an integral part of any business they trust and invest in. Whether it is pre-purchase input or post-sale service, Millennials often opt for a do-it-yourself approach. A report by The Center for Generational Kinetics states that 65% of all Americans say that they feel good about themselves and the company when they can solve a problem without talking to customer service. To cater to this need, businesses have to offer a vast knowledgebase consisting of FAQs, tutorials, walkthroughs, etc. Ensure that these are easy to navigate and accessible. It is crucial to categorize and prioritize queries so there is no need to involve support staff for preliminary issues. Keep in mind that for Gen Y, when they get in contact with a rep, they may have already exhausted all possible resolutions available to them, so be prepared to offer specialized support.

Social Media is the New Online Front Desk

Millennials spend a great deal of their time on social platforms, which is why if they have a complaint or an issue, they will have it registered on the company’s social account. If this query is not resolved quickly, it will stay there for other consumers to see and know where your business lacks. Taking advantage of this public accountability, Millennials will get in touch with brands on their social profiles, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Businesses need to dedicate resources which can monitor all social channels for mentions so any query posted there is resolved or at least responded to quickly. This step is essential for ensuring customer service excellence on social platforms.

Convenience across Multiple Channels

Multichannel customer support has become necessary to serve the tech-savvy generation. Millennials love interacting with businesses on various channels and expect that the business would follow through instantly even if they decide to move the conversation to a different channel. A ticketing system for queries and issues helps in streamlining the process no matter which medium is chosen. A great number of current CRMs have built-in capabilities to provide an omni-channel experience. Although it is not imperative that a business be present on every channel or social platform, however, its absence might become one of the factors for Millennials to shift to a competitor. Similarly, ensuring that official websites and apps are responsive on various devices has also become a primary customer expectation.