Take the quiz and find out how much you have been missing by not tapping into five customer service channels. The results may surprise you.
Which one are you in terms of the customer service mindset?
- We seek out customers, and every single one we gain, we go to great lengths to keep. So we make sure that we reach out to them, and that they can reach us.
- We have a 1-800 number and a website. We also reply to emails. They can always reach us if there are problems.
- What customer service?
It is certainly, fervently, hoped that none of you answered C! And no, this is not yet the quiz part. The choices A and B pretty much split the companies we have these days into two groups. Let us label the group A companies as the "Delighters." These are the ones who treat customers as gems, and aggressively pursue ways, means, and channels to please them and make sure all their needs are not just met, but exceeded.
Group B, on the other hand, comprise a good number of companies these days. Let's call them the "Complaints." Yes, they meet the minimum customer service requirements. But is it enough? Take a look at these five communication channels and see how you can become a "Delighter":
1. Website. A look at your database inquiries will reveal a list of FAQs, or frequently asked questions, that hopefully, you frequently answer. Do you have this covered in your website? Could you have saved precious man-hours and human resources if only you had kept your website updated with the answers that you can very well anticipate?
2. Email. It's efficient and inexpensive. Used properly, email can be a potent tool for customer service. Don't look at it as a mere alternative to call centers though, like a canned voice conversation in transcripts. People need special training to properly respond to email inquiries. Data shows that email usage has been steadily going up in the last 3 years. With the way everything is so connected these days by way of the Internet, all customer service concerns you are getting probably have gone through the other channels before they decided to dial that 1-800 number. That said, it is not far fetched for the email to become the eventual frontline-where most of the customer service activities will be done. Customers may not expect immediate replies with email, at least not in the same urgency as voice calls, but all information in that email reply may well be the first and last that the customer will ever need. "FCR" through email? "F-E-R" as a metric in the future? Why not?!
3. The Instant Messaging (IM) and SMS. Think of it as email on turbo: faster written communication. The lines between online chat and SMS have blurred. While SMS has been, and still is a strong favorite for communication, adoption to instant messaging among customers has risen from 30 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2012. Latest stats put the figure at 47 million instant messages sent every day around the world. What does this mean for customer service? People are communicating through i-messaging more frequently. Also worth noting that for customer service purposes, chat registered the second highest satisfaction rating of any channel used, next only to voice.
4. Social Media. The power of a single shout-out:
"Hey, in the market for product X. Anybody used it?"
"Looking at buying product Y. Can anybody point me to where to get the best deal?"
"Hey, product Z is not doing what its supposed to do! Help!"
Can you imagine what a goldmine this is for customer service opportunities? Imagine further that the person who tweets this has close to a hundred thousand followers!
With all its advantages and its capacity for exponential reach (read: TRENDING), social media has been tapped mainly for sales, marketing, and PR. If it can be used to promote a product, the same can be said of its potential to disseminate information. Besides, 1.15 billion Facebook users, 220 million Twitter users, with at least half logging in every day is too large a number not to tap into, isn't it?
5. The Contact Center and the people behind it. We go back to the basic premise: all business is for people, by people. When all else fails, we all still want to talk to a real person behind a phone line who can listen, instruct, and maybe even sympathize with our concerns of the moment. They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is a fact that holds -- and will hold -- no matter how much and how fast technology changes the way we connect and communicate.
Having pointed out these five channels, the bottom line is that companies must realize that customers' ways and means of communication have changed, and it is up to them to cope and be in-step with change.
Does it mean providing more training to contact center agents? Absolutely. But it can also mean having the systems, processes, and the necessary manpower to adapt to other platforms and channels where customers are more likely at: in their computers, and in their tablets and smartphones. More than just trends, all these channels appear to be here to stay for the long haul.
With that realization, are you ready to take the quiz?
1. How many Facebook users are there as of the latest estimate?
- 1.15 billion
- 1.15 million
- Who cares?
2. How many Twitter users are there as of the latest estimate?
- 220 million
- 220 billion
- What's Twitter?
3. How many instant messages are sent every day, around the world?
- 47 million
- 47 thousand
- IDK (IM lingo for I Don't Know)
4. What is the number of times that an average person checks his phone?
- Every waking hour
5. How many text messages are sent around the world every 24 hours?
- I lose count
If you answered mostly A: You are aware of these five customer service channels and probably have the right customer service efforts in place. You're doing OK.
If you answered mostly B: You might be missing out on opportunities to connect with your customers via channels that are waiting to be tapped into.
If you answered mostly C: Start reading this post from the top!
Bio: Jodi Beuder, Customer Experience Advocate at Impact Learning Systems, believes customer service exists not just outside the company, but inside, too.. "Having excellent customer service skills and knowledge are paramount to creating strong working relationships, whether you are in an office or out in the field." With over 17 years in Marketing Executive roles, Jodi has dedicated her career to assisting companies grow their brand presence and sales, and most importantly, their customer retention and satisfaction. (Image: via freedigitalphotos.net)