Your customer support strategy has a dramatic impact on your customers' overall experience with your brand. It influences what consumers say about you online and even affects the perceived value of your company. In other words, a product seems far less valuable if there's no competent service team to help consumers with questions. Read on for tips that can enhance your customer service strategy and team.
The 3 types of customer service teams
The best way to improve your speed and accuracy is to connect all of your customer service channels. Most businesses have three teams that communicate with consumers:
- The marketing team is responsible for finding and adding potential customers to the company lead list.
- The sales team is tasked with closing the deal with leads and prospects.
- The support team provides service to your customers after they've made a purchase.
What makes good customer service?
Good customer service makes consumers feel comfortable and well assisted. Customers need to be able to connect with someone at your business, and when they do contact you with questions or concerns, they should feel respected and guided.
A good customer experience leads to customer loyalty. Creating a customer journey and company culture that clients can depend on for support helps you retain your customers.
Feedback from customers also can help you address their needs and provide the quality service that makes them want to stay. When you don't address a bad customer experience, it will reflect poorly on your business and drive away both existing and potential customers.
How to improve customer service
One of the first steps in providing better customer service is to understand your weaknesses and respond to them. Hannah Cleve, a public relations and marketing associate at AnswerConnect, suggested building your customer service around those areas. Here are some more tips for improving your customer service:
Provide 24/7 support.
When someone at your business is available all day, every day to address issues, it is comforting for customers and shows that your company is reliable. You can offer this level of support by hiring more in-house customer service reps, using a chatbot or outsourcing your customer support services.
"Call centers and answering services can help businesses provide full coverage after hours, [and on] weekends and holidays," Cleve said. "An answering service boosts a company's customer service and professionalism."
Speed and accuracy play massive roles in the way people see companies. In this day and age, customers have become accustomed to instant communication, and when they experience issues with a product or service, they expect to be assisted quickly. According to a survey by Forrester, 53% of online shoppers said they leave the site if their question isn't answered promptly, and more than 70% of consumers said the best thing a customer service company can do for them is use their time efficiently.
Cross-train service teams, and share CRM software.
Many companies struggle to find a balance among their marketing, sales and customer support teams. Let's say someone contacts your business because they have a question about their purchase, but they accidentally get directed to your sales team. The customer has been on hold for five minutes and spends another seven minutes explaining their issue to the representative.
If the sales agent can't help because it's a post-purchase customer, they will have to transfer the caller to the support team. The consumer is already frustrated. Now, they will be placed on hold again and will have to explain their problem to another agent. This customer will probably remember this experience, and it could severely discourage them from shopping with you in the future.
There are several tactics for solving this problem. First, make sure you cross-train all of your customer service agents. That way, they can answer fast and easy questions from consumers instead of rerouting them.
Besides training everyone to handle fundamental problems in each department, it's also helpful to work within one customer relationship management (CRM) system. Some businesses have separate live-chat channels for different departments, such as sales and support. This creates a problem because, when a customer needs to be transferred to another department, it's nearly impossible for the agent using a different system to understand the purpose of the call.
If you use one channel for all of your customer-facing teams, all notes and previous conversations are shared among all of the teams, so when a customer calls in, all of their information and customer data collected during past calls and messages are available, thus making it easier to assist customers.
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Add a chatbot for common questions and concerns.
Stress is a major factor in your teams' quality of work and productivity. One way to reduce the burden on your support team while improving the user experience for your customers is to use chatbots. This is an excellent way to enhance the overall quality of your service and provide your customers with quick answers to frequently asked questions.
There's a common misconception that when businesses use chatbots, they can get rid of their core customer care team. However, the truth is that companies still need real people on the front lines to help customers. Instead of having a chatbot replace your support team, consider it a supplemental resource for quickly addressing common concerns and questions. This allows your team to focus on helping customers who have complex issues.
For example, chatbots can handle basic questions about product promotions and pricing, and direct customers to your blog when they have questions you've already answered. This incentivizes business owners to create informative content. In fact, high-quality content can even increase your web traffic by over 2,000%, according to IsItWP.
Once you start using chatbots to help customers with everyday issues, you should see a drastic improvement in your customer service team. Instead of dealing with 500 or more tickets a day, most of which are repetitive questions with simple answers, your staff may have to handle only 50 complicated tickets per day.
Analyze customer service feedback.
Examining feedback forms is one of the best ways to improve your support team. Although your staff should feel good when someone submits glowing feedback, if you're looking to use this information to improve your service team, the negative forms provide the most value. You can learn the kinds of barriers your customers are facing and how you can better bridge the gap between their initial purchase and satisfaction with your product. Depending on your business model, particularly those in the software-as-a-service field, closing the gap may take years.
If you're regularly checking customer satisfaction forms for areas of improvement, you may begin to notice that many people have the same thoughts or concerns. For example, you might discover that consumers feel like your marketing team doesn't explain the benefits of the product, or you may learn about design flaws through these forms. If customers complain that it took them a long time to find the chat channel, you may have to change the placement.
When you're aware of the common problems your customers are facing, you can prep your service team to address those concerns in the future.
Great customer service essential to business success
Great customer service is one of the most important aspects of owning a business. It's not enough to sell a product and let people enjoy their purchase; businesses must find new ways to improve and expand upon their existing support framework.
Improving your customer service team is a continually evolving process. For example, think of how some phone support teams were forced to switch to online support after businesses recognized that this was another way they needed to reach their customer base. As such, you have to remain flexible and willing to adapt to both customers' needs and the fast-paced growth of technology.
It's hard to say where customer service technology will be in the next 10 or 20 years, but remember that as long as you are willing to put customers first and strive to improve your support team, success is at your fingertips.
Simone Johnson contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.