5 Tips for Offering Efficient Customer Support Online

The increase in varying platforms used to engage and interact with customers has led companies to expand their customer service offerings. The evolution of technology’s role in providing service has changed the way customers look at support offered by companies, resulting in higher demand for instant and around the clock service. Companies can no longer ignore enhancement of their online support system and focus merely on traditional methods of contact.

Many customers still face the issue of delayed response to emails, or requests that are sent in through contact forms on websites. Low level of engagement and support on the website results in customers losing trust and buying from elsewhere.

Let’s look at some useful ways to enhance service delivery online and create a satisfactory experience for customers.

Real Time Support

When customers shop online, they often have more questions or queries about the product in comparison to when they are physically present at a store. Not being able to answer these concerns can result in losing or disappointing your customers, who may not feel comfortable doing business with your company in the future. In order to build trust and reliability, online businesses need to provide customers with extra support.

Companies often ask customers to fill in their details and queries in an online form on the website, promising to get back in touch as soon as possible. The wait on the customers’ end can lead to frustration and problems unsolved.

A more effective solution is to have proactive live chat on your website 24/7 which provides support in real time, where chatagents can take on a problem instantly, without customers having to wait hours to get their issues resolved or questions answered.

Adding Personal Touch

Personalize your online service experience by training your staff to show sensitivity and add more empathy in their interactions, to make the online platform comfortable for the customer.

Using the customer’s name to address him or her, adds familiarity between the customer and service agent. Using emoticons and other expressive elements can add to the customer experience offered on website, by enhancing the human element of the conversation.

This can also be applied to replies sent out in email, so that customers are aware that emails are not automated and actual people are reading and responding to their messages and concerns.

Use Less Technical Jargon

Using technical language to communicate with customers can lead to further confusion. Try simplifying your responses by ensuring the conversation is not technical. Difficult terminology will only frustrate the customer more and will waste his and your time.

Make it easy for the customer to understand by giving relevant examples or sending helpful material which can assist in comprehending the problem at hand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Having a thorough FAQ page is an effective way to solve customer queries, as it lists down common questions that might be raised. A list of important questions should be designed keeping customers in mind, and concerns which may come up from their end. Customers often want to know about shipping costs, store location, refund policy, office hours and other essential questions etc. Important and recurring questions should be listed under the FAQ page.

Connecting through Social Media

Most people are active on social media these days and are quick to learn about the company through their online presence. Companies can use this to provide round the clock support to customers by letting them get in touch with them through social media for an instant reply. Trained social media reps can then direct customers to a specialized team if necessary or help resolve the matter right there and then.

Regular customer service training programs should be part of the strategy for social media teams that are dedicated to offering support so that they are well equipped on how to respond to online customers.

6 Strategies for Creating a Memorable Customer Experience at Restaurants

Starting a restaurant business and making customers love the food and service you offer isn’t an easy job. Customer preferences are ever changing and their demands keep increasing with time as well. While some might find your overfriendly staff, as warm and welcoming, others may complain of them being too candid. Creating the right mix of elements can strongly impact your service as well as customer loyalty. Let’s look at some useful ways in which you can improve your restaurant’s offerings and get more customers to dine with you.

Design of the Menu

The first and foremost ingredient for a successful restaurant is to offer a unique menu with plenty of options. Customers like to have different choices when ordering so they can enjoy something that suits their palate and preference. Make sure you have a balanced menu with options to select from, and those can be customized for the convenience of the customer.

A lot of people have moved towards a healthy lifestyle and prefer to have low fat or low carb meals, even when they are dining out. Keeping some options to match their needs will attract more customers.

Some restaurants have added innovative ideas to their menus, by letting customers design and customize their own meals. This allows customers to get involved, which leads to a higher level of engagement and satisfaction, resulting in more loyal customers.

Digital Engagement

Customers of today have evolved to become digitally savvy and connected with the rest of the world. They often engage with the brand on multiple platforms before they actually buy something or avail a service. Checking social media pages to learn about the business, their offerings and customer reviews and ratings is a very common practice. Make sure you have a well-connected and established digital presence.

Interactive social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, heighten the experience of the customer, who can view high definition pictures of some of the items on the menu as well as read enticing descriptions and insightful reviews etc. Invest in strengthening your restaurant’s social media presence so it can stand out in all the noise and abundance of options available out there.

Some businesses also offer a free drink or coffee when a customer checks into their restaurant in their social media feeds. This creates more exposure for businesses as other customers can learn about the place and the experience it offers.

Personalization

Making the customer’s experience memorable cannot be achieved unless the service has been personalized to his or her needs. Starting with remembering names and greeting them warmly when they re-visit, is essential, since it increases familiarity and builds an emotional connection, making the customer feel more valued.

Remember the preferences of your customers and ask them if they would like their food the way they normally do. Remembering how the customer likes his or her steak or the toppings they got removed from the salad the last time, builds value and appreciation. Knowing the restaurant is paying attention to little details in order to deliver a quality experience, increases dining frequency.

Some customers can have dietary restrictions, or have an allergy, and may expect the restaurant to remember this the next time they visit. If customers don’t mention any such issues, its best to ask them if they would like you to be careful about anything, so that there are no problems faced later.

Ambiance and Design

The environment plays a crucial role in the dining experience for a customer. A well thought lay out, with focus on décor and comfort, contributes largely to the value a customer associates with a business. For customers looking to have a pleasant experience, the music being played is important, the lights, the energy of the place as well as the layout of the dining area. Ensure that the design and seating area matches the theme of the restaurant and adds to the overall experience you are planning to offer.

For example, if you’re running a café, then a nice coffee house playlist and some posters and quotes hanging on the wall, can add to the overall experience. Whereas a Thai restaurant, will have a different theme, with instrumental music and perhaps rice paper lanterns might be more appropriate. Spend time in designing the overall feel of your restaurant, and think through the little steps which can be taken to heighten the experience and add to the overall value of the service.

Collect and Utilize Feedback

Since the restaurant business is serving on such a personal level, it can invite more criticism or feedback as compared to other industries. An experience at a restaurant is one that has almost instant gratification, so customers usually make their opinions about the restaurant in the first twenty minutes or so.

Asking customers for feedback about their food and overall service quality is essential. This firstly shows the customer that his or her opinion is valued and second it helps improve service and food quality in the future. This also opens up doors to learning about factors that might have bothered the customer and the restaurant never thought about them to start with. For instance, asking questions about the taste and quantity of food, ambiance and attitude of staff, help in understanding customer perceptions.

Invest in Training the Staff

A well trained staff is the crux of quality customer service at a restaurant. The staff is involved in all stages of service, from offering a seat, taking the order and assisting the customer in serving them etc. Employee retention is one of the most important element when it comes to offering consistent and dependable service every time. You cannot have an untrained employee cater to customers.

There is little to no use investing in staff when the company is unable to retain them. So invest in your employees and make them satisfied with the work experience at your restaurant, so they can in turn make customers happy as well.

Hire people who are creative thinkers and are capable of working under pressure and handle stress. Customers can be overcritical when it comes to their food, and can get rude with the restaurant staff. Well trained staff, who can manage their own stress as well as the mood of the customer, can usually handle the situation more skillfully.

Invest into their training, by conducting workshops as well as training them to focus on the details in order to provide a better service experience.

4 Strategies for Companies Looking to Build Customer Confidence

Increase in market competition has led to customers quickly moving from one brand to another, in search of better service and product quality. Customers have higher expectations and companies need to invest more to build customer trust and confidence. A customer who trusts your brand is more likely to stick with it and be more forgiving, if and when your company ends up making a mistake.

Let’s have a close look at some important strategies that can build customer confidence and result in more loyal customers.

Build Trust Through Consistency

Time management and meeting deadlines is essential when it comes to delivering consistent service, which builds a customer’s confidence. Your service performance should ensure customers that you will deliver as per your word. If you promised the box to arrive before noon on Friday, then give it your all to meet your deadline. If you guaranteed a call back within an hour, then that is exactly how much time it should take.

Offering reliable service and standing by your word, increases confidence and reduces frustration, because customers believe they can fall back on the company and trust them to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Streamline your processes and keep all platforms updated, so no time is wasted in getting in touch with the customer and solving the problem no matter which department is involved. Once the complaint reaches the company, get it to the person it concerns and get back to the customer with a solution.

Provide a Return Policy

Businesses that are sure of their product quality and have designed their offers with a competitive edge are confident when marketing their products. This confidence and assurance of quality is reflected when they offer customers a return policy with no questions asked. The guarantee of a return policy, is comforting for the customer, because they know they always have the option to return the product and don’t need to fear losing their money.

This also creates trust in the customers mind because they are confident about the product quality being offered by the company, or else they wouldn’t be too keen on having a return policy.

Ensure Seamless Service

While a lot of extra measures can be taken to enhance service and win customer confidence, the most essential elements should not be ignored. A base for quality service lies in fast and reliable customer service where the task at hand is completed and solutions are offered. Focus on the deliverables, such as providing dependable service, with minimum glitches and errors as possible. Try to continuously improve business offerings without waiting for the customer to complain or face issues to begin with.

Train your staff to manage all sorts of scenarios and communicate with the customers with patience and empathy, restoring their confidence in the company post poor service or complaints etc. Assure the customer that their issue will be dealt with urgency and attention.

Being honest is an important part of building trust and confidence. If there is an issue with the service or a feature of the product, be honest with your customers and keep them in the loop. Don’t lie to them and try to cover up your mistakes, instead let them know the situation at hand and inform them about measures being taken from the company’s end to resolve the problem.

Market Your Achievements

Build confidence in the mind of the customer by sharing positive feedback and testimonials with them, regarding what other people are saying about your service and company after becoming your customer. Let them know about positive reviews by sharing them on your website or social media pages, in order to increase engagement as well as branding your business as trustworthy.

Testimonials can be shared in forms of videos, letters or even quotes by loyal customers who have full confidence in the company. Reading such positive and successful experiences, encourages others to do business with you as it builds their level of trust in your offerings.

Let your customers know about your past achievements and awards, by listing them on your website or mentioning them in a small section of your flyer. This helps the customer see your offerings in a new light, because they are supported by other reliable and established sources as well.

4 Tips for Enhancing Frontline Communication Skills

Companies spend a substantial amount of their budget designing customer experience journeys and focusing on making memorable interactions for customers. However, the touchpoint that needs the most focus and can make or break a relationship is often not given its due importance. Frontline staff is the best representation of a brand, and how it treats its customers.

The frontline staff has the power of winning hearts through skillful conversation and keenness to offer solutions. Let’s look at some important points to include when training the frontline staff to ensure meaningful and impactful interactions.

Tone

The tone used by a Customer Service Representative (CSR) should reflect keenness to help and genuine concern in finding a fix to problems. The customer shouldn’t feel like the CSR is getting irritated by the questions and complaints of the customer, but instead feel like he or she is interested in knowing everything so maximum help can be offered.

The tone shouldn’t reflect the CSR playing blame games, such as “it is YOUR” fault that the product isn’t functioning properly, or “YOU are late in your service subscription and I don’t know how I can help you now”. The tone should be accommodating and the customer should feel like the CSR is willing to offer help no matter what and his or her intention is to get the service rolling and offering a smooth customer service experience.

Attentiveness

Being attentive about the comments of the customer, doesn’t just relate to listening to what they are saying, but instead focusing and paying attention to important parts of their feedback to handle the case more efficiently. Listening with attention, leads to picking up points that can be used to deal with the case more strategically. Customers might also not know how to express their problem in a technical term, or clearly describe the problem they are facing, so it is essential to be attentive and gather the important information from the conversation.

Attentive listening can also lead to collecting feedback from customers which can be utilized for improving service experience in the future and enhancing service quality.

Carefully Structured Sentences

The use of negative words in sentences can damage relations with customers, who can be sensitive when receiving service and can get easily offended. Make sure you structure your responses smartly by using positive words in place of negative ones.

Firstly, clear and structured sentences will not lead to any confusions on part of the customer, who may not completely understand what the CSR is promising or saying when talking about service. This problem occurs when the CSR lacks adequate product knowledge and gives vague information to the customer to start with, which raises more problems in the future.

Secondly, negative remarks can make the customer angry and agitated. For example, “I can’t do this for you anymore, you should have contacted us earlier”, or, “I can’t offer you this deal at the moment, check back with us later”. These are comments which might not be out rightly rude, but are still in a negative context which can upset the customer. These can be replaced by positive words and language, such as, “We are sorry to inform you that the time for this deal was limited, but we will get back to you as soon as it is renewed”. Taking responsibility and comforting the customer can help retain more customers and build stronger bonds.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ should be incorporated in the training of the frontline staff when focusing on improving communication skills. Trained for making emotionally intelligent decisions, result in a more controlled and thought out reaction and response from the CSR’s side. This leads to better equipped staff and when they are faced with surprise situations, they can strategically deal with the problem at hand.

Some customers can overreact to a situation or be rude with the staff at the frontline, this requires an emotionally intelligent service rep who can disengage from the behavior of the customer and not take it personally, by not letting it impact service quality and hinder him or her from offering quality experiences.

4 Important Factors When Designing Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Effectively designed customer satisfaction surveys give insight on how customers are viewing a brand and its service offerings. Businesses utilize data from customer surveys to improve their service quality and raise their rank in the pool of competitors. Surveys provide useful information on whether a customer is satisfied or dissatisfied by the product or service offered by a company.

Let’s look at four essential points to incorporate when designing an effective and thorough customer satisfaction survey.

Framework of Questions

Research teams often make the mistake of either having a very long survey, which is too generic and lacks focus, or designing one which is very short and not goal oriented. Customer satisfaction surveys should be designed by keeping the questions focused and concise.

The survey should include questions that are insightful for the organization and can contribute to the enhancement of the service experience in the future. The structure generally consists of quantitative questions and a few qualitative questions which gather customer opinions as well as expectations from the company.

Questions on customer service representatives

Customer satisfaction surveys need to include questions on customer service representatives (CSRs) since they play such a critical role in service delivery. Questions on behavior, conduct, problem solving, time management and efficiency etc. can be asked from the customer to rate. This will give useful input to the company, which can be incorporated in future training development of the CSR.

Questions on product quality and user experience

Collecting data on product quality is essential for companies looking to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Questions being addressed should range from product quality, user experience, value, price and other factors which the company finds useful in devising its customer service offerings. The questions can be constructed to gauge the customer’s affinity to the product and whether they will be buying the product again or not.

Questions on overall satisfaction

It is important to assess the overall quality of the customer experience offered and whether there are any loopholes in the service delivered. Questions can gather customers’ ratings on shopping experience, promptness in service, efficiency in problem solving, different customer service platforms and post sales service etc. Customers should be asked if they ever contact the customer service for help and if yes, then how effectively their issues are addressed and resolved.

Open ended questions

Apart from quantitative questions in the survey, a few qualitative questions should also be addressed to get feedback from customers. Having open ended questions which touch on important points such as complaints and experiences can be added to the pool of questions in the survey. Customers can be enquired on how they might think the service can improve or what they dislike about the service or product etc.

Rating Scale

The main part of the survey is answered using a rating scale, which is commonly a five point scale depending on the questions asked etc. The rating scale can be varied though for different questions, and will then have to be totaled separately as well. The length of the scale is usually selected depending on the level of differentiation the company is looking for.

While focus is often made on only the layout of the questions in the survey, it is as essential to have an effective rating scale, which measures accurately and does not create disparity when calculating the final data.

The rating scale needs to be balanced to start with, which means that it should give enough options for both positive and negative feedback. This firstly gives customers the choice to choose from a variety of options and secondly collects more accurate data from the customer.

The rating scale should correctly label each point, instead of simply numbering it from 1 to 5. Labeling the rating scales, such as very good, good, fair, poor and very poor, creates a more balanced data collection, since all customers know what that point stands for, instead of just choosing a number and letting customers associate a degree to it themselves.

Design of the survey

Customer surveys need to have an overall design and branding, with logos and marketing material so they have a higher response rate from their audience. Customers are more comfortable filling in a survey that is verified and labeled by the brand, because they tend to trust the source more as well as be assured that the information is going to be utilized for their benefit.

Start the survey with addressing your customers politely and asking them to fill in the survey so you can use the information to improve service offerings for them. The survey should have a simple layout, which is easy to understand and doesn’t take up too much time.

Once the qualitative and quantitative questions have been asked, end the survey by thanking the customer and giving them an option to leave any comments or feedback they wish to, whether it is a complaint or simply highlighting something they feel strongly about.

Incentives for the customer

Offering customers incentives and rewards for answering a survey is an effective measure for collecting data as well as motivating the customer to answer the survey. Firstly it serves the purpose of encouraging the customer to fill in the survey, as it can be a tedious task at times, and second it is a way of thanking the customer for giving their valuable feedback to the company.

Rewards can range from different kinds of discounts or offers which customers can benefit from. It can be a discount of a certain percent on the next purchase made or a gift card of a specified amount. These efforts help engage customers and collect data on useful service related queries.