7 Customer Service Must-Dos
Why We Need to Continually Look at How to Improve Customer Support
The forces of free market economics underline capitalism. They also form a framework that supports competition in marketplaces for products and services.
Some might say that you can never have too much competition. It is supposed to keep prices at affordable levels and makes sure companies cannot abuse market position. They also can’t get away with delivering poor value through complacency or poor customer service.
However, others may suggest that market saturation creates a low value mindset where companies compete on price alone. This results in a ‘race to the bottom’. This means you can have too much competition, but just how much is too much?
However, there is no questioning the pressure companies are under to make products that meet the needs of the market with the right features, performance and reliability.
Of course, this alone isn’t enough, because they have to be offered at a price that makes sense and that represents value to the customer. Whether it’s big ticket items like cars, or everyday items like food, there is an expectation for high quality products and support.
If we get our products wrong, or the experiences we provide our customers in supporting their use of what our companies provide for them, then we are creating problems for our businesses. Today, every time a service incident doesn’t go in the customer’s favor we run the risk of criticism.
Even when the customer has an unreasonable expectation for an outcome in their favor, the service desk can get it wrong by handling it badly. In these cases, we run the risk of driving customers into the arms of our competitors to seek alternative products, goods and services.
Social media and review websites amplify the slightest hint of dissatisfaction expressed by a customer. Negative feedback posted on a public internet platform can quickly escalate into a storm of protest on Twitter, or another social media platform.
A minor comment may attract others from people who have had bad experiences. In the age of fake news and bots, it’s not too much of a stretch to see how an unhappy customer might be able to carry out ‘social media sabotage’, damaging the reputation and commercial success of a company.
It just makes sense for B2C or B2B companies of all types to continually look at how well they deliver service and support. Today’s most successful companies must adopt a process to ensure a continual program is in place.
Quite simply, to avoid a race to the bottom companies need to focus on differentiating themselves through delivering great customer service and brand experiences. Here we discuss seven aspects of customer service with which successful and progressive businesses need to get up to speed.
Make Sure Everyone that’s in Customer Service Knows…
…they’re in customer service! The very first thing is to make sure that all of your team are clear on their responsibilities and understand the importance of providing excellent service.
There is a strong trend for adopting a customer-centric model, where customers are at the center of everything you do. So, some companies that are organized around this might take the view that they are practicing a philosophy of Total Customer Service.
Essentially, anyone that works in these businesses might be in customer service. However, in others, they may say customer service is only provided by those that are customer facing. Wherever your business stands on this, you need to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page.
Whether you call it customer services, service desk or support, all of the people that are engaged in looking after customers need to understand that providing great service isn’t an optional part of the job. It’s an intrinsic part of what they do. It’s a pivotal part of your organizational culture.
In tech companies, ‘geeks’ tend to be ‘computer people’ and they aren’t necessarily good with people. They might not naturally be good listeners or have any of the other soft skills that make a good service desk or support team member. So, make sure you try to pick people with the right mix of personality and skills and consider their training needs.
Listen in on Social Media Channels
Social listening is now widely practiced. The software tools that power social listening let you monitor social media channels and platforms for any mentions of your company. These apps use Machine Learning, enabling social listening software to provide intelligence and alert you in real time of conversations about your business.
The most powerful social listening applications are highly scalable, enabling you to listen in on thousands of web channels. You can monitor websites like Facebook, Twitter and as many other independent forums and review sites as you wish.
With social listening you can react fast to negative comments. Responding appropriately and making sure you get it right lets you avoid being at the center of a Twitter storm! If you’re a B2C company, social media listening tools are a must.
The latest social media intelligence tools deliver insights that help you with proactive marketing, so they can really obtain the additional value that we talk about in the tech section, below.
You Need to be Truly Multichannel
Today’s world is multichannel, so your service desk and support must be too!
It’s probably because they are real time, but phone, chat and text are really popular with customers. This fits in with the expectation of lots of people that want their customer support as well as sales needs instantly satisfied.
Of course, there’s also channels that may be a little time delayed, including webforms, social channels and good old fashioned email too.
Chat and text may present difficulties in reading the customer mood, so try to equip your team with knowledge to help them understand how customers might be feeling when they are using methods that don’t easily convey emotion.
Technology is really important in helping you manage and resolve service requests coming in through each channel. Make sure your customer service and support team are agile across the channels and that individual service tickets can be handled across channels effectively. More on this below…
Select the Best Technology at Any Reasonable Price if it Delivers Value
Technology is absolutely center-stage if you want to get customer service and support right so that you deliver great brand experiences. So, it figures that choosing the best technology is of fundamental importance.
When you are comparing competing software products always try to look beyond cost and make your technology decisions based on value.
To do this, don’t just look at the cost, the actual bottom line figure. Look at the benefits of a specific technology and understand any hidden value before making your choices.
Over the last ten years or so, SaaS software model of delivery has changed the cost/benefit equation compared with the old on-premise approach to business software. Most solutions should be affordable to your company, whatever its size and ambitions.
The right service desk software will let you take control of support activity and enable you to track, prioritize and assign each service incident or ticket. The best service desk software will let you handle the communication of an individual service incident across multiple channels.
On top of service desk, a good social listening tool might be a good choice for driving a strategy of improving your customer service and support. The hidden value of social listening is that it can also uncover insight to power sales initiatives, such as cross selling and upselling.
Whatever software you choose, consider the benefits of applications that support API integration with third-party apps so that you can take advantage of any efficiencies that are released through the automated exchange of data between systems.
Ask Yourself if You’re an Easy Company to do Business with
Have you ever dealt with a company where the answer to any question seems to be ‘No!’? Most people won’t tolerate too many negative responses and they will quickly move on and find a competitor that is likely to be more helpful.
This is especially true if the customer you are losing tells them about their bad experience with you…
We have all pretty much had dealings with companies that are unhelpful. So, try putting yourself in their shoes when you think about whether your company is seen as one that’s easy to do business with.
Work on projecting the image that you’re easy to talk to and nice to buy from. Be attentive to customer needs. Make sure you have a presence on social and can be contacted down all the appropriate channels on which you wish to provide service.
Train your team in the art of letting customers down lightly. Even when the answer to a customer request is ultimately ‘no’, train your team to use ‘yes’. Using more positive language in general really helps to project a strong service ethic and promotes better brand experiences.
Think about how much better ‘Yes, we can help if we do it like this…’ sounds instead of the answer, ‘No, I’m sorry we cannot do that.’
Benchmark Against the Entire Customer Service Sphere
Quite frequently, companies have a habit of comparing themselves to their competitors. While there’s nothing wrong with that, when we are talking about something like customer service, it can offer a pretty limited viewpoint.
Customer service is something that is almost universally practiced across the whole economy, so it is well worth looking beyond what your competitors are doing. Get a wider take on it and look at what the companies with the best reputations for customer service are doing.
To find out who’s giving great customer service, why not canvass your team to see who they’ve dealt with that has impressed them. It could be a supermarket, or an insurance company. Or a bank. (But don’t hold your breath!)
Whoever comes to your attention, listen on social to see why they’re top rated and learn what they’re doing. Perhaps even take the opportunity to be a secret shopper and experience it first hand for yourself.
Be inspired and take the support experiences that you deliver to your customers from good to great and boost your brand’s CSAT credentials.
Be Proactive in Finding out What Customers Think
A really good way of finding out what your customer’s think is to… just ask them!
One of the best ways to get the insight that can help you to improve customer service is to get the point of view of those who know you best. Your existing customers know more about this topic than anyone, even you.
Think about surveying customers to find out what they really think and feel about your products and services and your company and brand. It could be an online survey, or a telephone survey, either in person or using an auto attendant.
Incentivize with vouchers or tech and make it hard to ignore your request for their input and encourage them to provide feedback.
In a more formal approach this is a quality assurance feedback mechanism designed to make sure the perspectives of customers are an integral part of the process of improving customer service.
It’s also worth thinking about adopting a proactive approach to service and support. This helps identify minor issues before they become major problems for the service desk and the cause for complaint. It also promotes the idea that you care about your customers and their experiences and the value they get from using your products and services.
Improving customer service and support is something all companies need to do on a continual basis.
Identify which subdivisions of your company are responsible for customer service and support. Make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Train your team so they have the right knowledge and skills.
Make sure that you have the ability to listen in to the digital channels on which customers may be saying good and bad things about your company. Ensure that you can deal with service requests and handle ongoing communication across multiple channels.
Equip your teams with the best technology tools and make sure your company make choices that deliver true value from the investment. Make sure customers find it a pleasure to deal with your company. Benchmark the customer service experience against the top-rated companies in any industry. Adopt a proactive approach to finding out what your customers think and a proactive approach to customer service and support.
When you are working at overhauling the way you do customer service to give better brand experiences and more customer satisfaction think about—
- Being on top of your game by playing your customer service ‘A’ team
- Finding the right service desk software
- Being properly equipped with multichannel communication and social listening
- Having a 360 degree view of customers, competitors and the customer service sphere