How To Build A Customer Service Strategy And Drive Repeat Business
A good customer service strategy can be extremely rewarding in the age of social media. People love to publicly acknowledge when they’ve had a memorable customer service experience. On the other hand, poor customer service can make them forget all the good experiences your company has offered.
Building an airtight customer service strategy is the best way to weather the demands of today’s savvy customers. We’d like to help you build a viable customer service strategy with nine actionable customer service ideas that can be a huge differentiator for your business.
9 Actionable Ideas That Improve Your Customer Service Strategy
- Know your customers and their preferred channels of support
- Deliver consistent customer service across channels with context
- Stop Alt+Tab switching for information – Unify+Align tools and technologies
- Create a culture of empathy and knowledge to serve customers better
- Foster self service among customers
- Make customer service effortless by using chat as a channel
- Bring other teams into the support process
- Track, measure and improve customer service
- Anticipate needs and provide proactive support
#1 Know your customers and their preferred channels of support
Knowing your customer isn’t limited to their product history or preferences. Building a viable customer service strategy is also about letting customers choose a support channel that is comfortable to them–and offering a unified service experience on all channels.
Live chat and social media are now mainstream channels of support alongside phone and email. The approach to customer support is unique for every industry. While a retail business may receive a high volume of customer queries on social media, live chat could be the busiest channel for a travel website.
Omnichannel support is the new norm
Support agents need context in the form of prior engagement history of customers while trying to sort out their issues. This requires a 360-degree view of customer interactions across channels so that the agent can pick up background information before a scheduled call, or even during a call.
The lack of context is what forces agents to make one too many cold transfers between agents and channels. This takes a heavy toll on customer service as customers are forced to repeat themselves multiple times–adding to their existing discontentment with the brand. With the help of customer support software, you can also collect automated reports on channel and engagement analytics to find out which channel customers prefer or if any channel needs special attention.
#2 Deliver consistent customer service across channels with context
When a company asks a customer to transfer their conversation to a different channel from the original, it shows that the business is not really customer-first. It points out the fact that the company is more concerned about their support budget and internal scalability than catering to a customer-preferred channel.
Channel switching can reflect poorly on customer serviceThe only plausible explanation for switching to another communication channel midway through a customer service interaction is that the customer asked for it. Click To Tweet
The above screenshot from Twitter shows Old Spice asking the customer to switch to another channel. With the issue being a serious one, its support doesn’t even offer to call the customer but instead leaves a number. An acute lack of intent and urgency from the support team is visible here. But this is also characterized by the absence of a proper customer service system in place.
Even with that channel switch, the customer doesn’t get his call picked up, exposing how disjointed the customer service process is. With a proper customer support system in place, this tweet could have been converted into a priority ticket; the agent hand-off could have been made smoother by adding context to the conversation; instant contact could have been established from the system’s omnichannel support interface through any channel–be it Twitter, email, or phone.
#3 Stop Alt+Tab switching for information – Unify+Align tools and technologies
Shuttling between tabs to find relevant information is an unwanted addition to the existing workload of a customer support agent. It results in disparate data silos and support integrations that do not communicate well with each other. Connecting the dots between the insights derived from these tools and data silos becomes a tedious manual work–killing the exact purpose of a customer support helpdesk.
Companies need to optimize the number of screens that their support agents handle in one go. This is not only an issue from a productivity or customer handling standpoint, but also the cost to the company. Multiple data sources also mean that your business incurs heightened standalone expenses of business software.
Legacy systems need a reality check
Companies that dream about a customer service strategy can’t afford to live on the razor’s edge with legacy systems. They are too out of place in the age of the millennials and prone to crashes and functional deficiencies. There’s an urgent need to rethink their customer service ideas.
With no contingency plan in place, companies have had to retrofit their legacy systems with the latest technologies. But they still remain largely incompatible because of the incompatibility of the system. Companies end up bleeding money just for maintenance because of how bloated the system is and the additional workforce it demands.
In contrast, a state-of-the-art online support software is hosted by a B2B company, discounting all the maintenance costs. It is simple to use, intuitive, scalable, and more importantly, there’s no data loss. To ensure this, make sure the support software you use has a comprehensive marketplace with tools and applications that seamlessly integrate into its omnichannel platform.
#4 Create a culture of empathy and knowledge to serve customers better
While automated support is here to change customer service strategy, human emotions still remain quintessential. Fostering a customer-first work culture isn’t only about showing employees how to treat customers. Companies need to take the initiative by building an employee-first culture at the workplace to show them how it is done.
Customer-centricity is something that needs to be ingrained in the vision of an organization. There are a few traits customer service teams need to train on:
Empathy: Empathy is what reminds the customer that it is a human on the other side of the support channel. It is one trait that will help you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see pain points in an issue.
Product knowledge: When customers are reaching out to a customer service representative, they trust by default that they are contacting a product expert–someone who knows the product in and around–and can understand their concerns in no time.
Aligning goals with KPIs: Support agents need to be able to work towards achieving measurable goals. Build a customer service strategy that records every issue can empower support teams–help them back to the drawing board and assess their performance–so that they get exponentially better in handling incoming customer support tickets.
Personalize conversations with customer profiles and engagement history
Customers feel valued when support conversations are personalized to their interests. A good customer support software will let you build customer profiles with their prior engagement history with your brand.
#5 Foster self service among customers76% of consumers globally prefer to ﬁrst try to solve issues on their own before contacting support. Click To Tweet
The above stat is from a 2019 survey report called The New Rules Of Customer Engagement. This is especially true of millennials, who don’t like to depend on customer support agents to resolve their issues. The self service portal of a helpdesk can help a business scale up its efforts towards maintaining a good customer service strategy.
When customers get what they are looking for without having to reach out for help, they feel empowered and find value in the ease-of-access that the company offers – this is the rationale behind the advent of self service as a powerful driver of benchmark customer service.
The self service feature of Freshdesk shown in the image below includes content components like knowledge base, support articles, FAQs, answer bots (on live chat), help widgets, and community forums.
Customers can find these resources in all the relevant product or support pages, making their navigation a breeze. For instance, answer bots on the helpdesk chat can be customized to pick up cues from customer queries to dish out relevant content. Helpdesk software also lets you create a community forum with common topics and subtopics in your support portal, where customers can help each other out from their own experience.
Self service increases agent productivity
Support agents get access to a central repository from where they can post support articles to product-focused pages and community forums. When they are posed with a complex query on live chat, agents can look up the knowledge base to find and plug in relevant content resources, instead of combing through the entire website for information.
Ticket deflection is one of the biggest upsides of self service. Since customers are given the license to help themselves for any basic issues, your customer service team can deflate itself from voluminous tickets and be available for more complex support scenarios.
#6 Make customer service effortless by using chat as a channel
Live chat and website messaging are taking over as one of the most preferred channels for customer support. About 66% of customers use live chat globally and the numbers are expected to grow further.
There’s a lot of lead slippage when potential customers visit your website to find information. Sometimes, they just need a nudge to engage on your website, and live chat does just that. Instead of expecting them to reach out for something, live chat helps you to engage proactively and be the first to start a conversation.
When you integrate live chat to a helpdesk, you get valuable customer information to drive data-driven outreach. The chat can be personalized to their interests as determined by the customers’ heatmaps, product history, and other triggers.
These conversations can be documented to understand customer intent better and make live chat support even more contextual. Also, by integrating your knowledge base to live chat, FAQs and support articles are made readily accessible to close loops then and there.
Messenger as a support channel
Most businesses are still warming up to messaging as a top support channel. The US considered the Messenger app as a no-frills medium to engage with brands. In 2018, an estimated 10 billion messages1 were exchanged between people and businesses on a monthly basis.
With such staggering numbers revolving around the usage of Messenger, it’s paramount for brands to augment their presence and customer support there. Make sure live chat + helpdesk integration supports the conversion of social media conversations into support tickets.
#7 Bring other teams into the support process
Customer support does not only involve the customer service team. Customer requirements deal with information pertaining to the product team, sales team, finance, and external vendors to name a few.
Imagine you’re running an e-commerce business. A regular day in your company’s customer support will require connecting with finance, billing, operations, and also third-party sellers on the marketplace. For an issue as basic as a request for refund or product replacement, customer service teams to run back and forth, tying up customer issues to the relevant teams, fetching the resolution from them, and getting back to customers. This cries the need for collaboration to be an integral part of the core support workflow.
Why collaborative support needs to be set up across the organization
Your customer service strategy requires seamless collaboration between and beyond teams. The taxing process of collecting answers from silos can be avoided at all costs by setting up a culture of collaboration.
What happens when there is little or no system in place for collaboration? Your support team will have to reach out individually to internal teams on different channels, as per the demands of the customer query. Even after reaching out, the lack of a collaborative workflow means there’s less accountability for those teams to reply on time–resulting in conversations and
This corridor of acute uncertainty can be solved with a ticketing system that doubles up as a contextual team collaboration tool. There are a lot of tropes associated with team collaboration on a helpdesk:
Collaboration within a ticket: Tickets can be resolved faster with contextual collaboration on a ticket, with other team members and external stakeholders.
Shared ownership across teams: When a ticket requires multiple stakeholders to work on it, shared ownership helps all of them work simultaneously without falling out of the loop.
Splitting up tickets: When a ticket needs multiple actions that are dependent on different teams, the parent ticket can be split into several sub-tasks and routed to the responsible teams.
Linking similar tickets: Agents are often bombarded by a large volume of tickets that have similar issues. These can be linked together to assign a common workflow, status, and outcome.
Support systems need to offer easy collaboration across teams. For instance, Freshdesk offers a discussion tab through a free Freshconnect integration. Instead of scampering around for customer context through disjoint channels, an omnichannel helpdesk allows you to resolve support issues within the software.
#8 Track, measure and improve customer service
Customer support KPIs and metrics act as an active feedback loop to improve your customer service strategy. They can reflect on agent productivity, performance, and quality of support provided to customers.
The ideal customer service software will help you track these metrics in real-time, and generate actionable business insights.
Productivity metrics: This involves the nature of issues in ticket inflow, number of tickets resolved, and the active time taken to resolve each issue. Keeping track of these can help in planning your staffing, understanding customer behavior, and agent training – all at once.
Performance metrics: Performance metrics show your customer service team’s resolution time and first response time.
Quality metrics: These metrics reflect the quality of customer service through Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). NPS is something that is deeply rooted in revenue as it tackles customer loyalty with factors like churn, subscription rate, and repetitive purchase. Helpdesks can also be used to record CSAT surveys after every customer service interaction to know where your business stands.
#9 Anticipate needs and provide proactive support
Being proactive is vital to get into the good books of your customers. Switching from reactive to proactive support is what differentiates a customer-centric business from the conventional ones. Proactive support has the power to solve customer issues before they even arise.
There are several ways to adapt to proactive support. It could start from doing something as simple as announcing mistakes before customers point out, notifying customers about software bugs, taking care of payment failures, and setting realistic expectations about support availability.
Apart from helping you gain customers’ trust, proactive support is a great leveler of potential revenue opportunities. For instance, live chat is a classic example of a profit center that branches out of proactive support. With the advent of chatbots, live chat is fast becoming a preferred medium to proactively engage customers.
Chatbots have taken proactive support to the next level
There are two main use cases that businesses look to address out of a chatbot – customer engagement (support) and customer acquisition (sales). The ideal chatbot would combine both the characteristics and also show its AI prowess by detecting when to hand-off a conversation to an agent.
How to build a chatbot
Bot platforms are used to build chatbots by designing conversation flows and conditions. These are roadmaps that help you to create engagement rules for probable conversation triggers and the ensuing customer responses.
For an answer bot, conversation flows could be designed for refund requests, support queries, payment issues, and so on. Custom bots can be used as a lead generation engine to can set up meetings, schedule demos, nudge when there is cart abandonment, and offer product trials.
Bots are packed with sentiment analysis
Chatbots are programmed to toggle between functioning as an answer bot and a custom bot. For instance, Freshchat’s bots can detect negative customer sentiment to change the original conversation flow.
Adopt A Helpdesk To Cement Your Winning Customer Service Strategy
To drive repeat business by consistently delighting customers, this customer service strategy needs to become a part of your long-run support culture. Perk up your support by adopting a support software that readily accommodates your customer service strategy. Usually, a support software requires extensive training to figure out its functionalities. But a helpdesk is something that needs to be simple, and easy to wrap your head around it. Help your employees get familiar with an intuitive omnichannel helpdesk as such, so that it doesn’t add up complexity to their already busy job.
While you inculcate these nine customer service ideas into your service strategy, have a look at our recently launched, The Ultimate Guide To Customer Support Productivity. This e-book is filled with best practices, actionable tips, and comprehensive statistics tailored to help you build a winning customer service strategy for your business. Download it here.
1 – https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/30/close-friendsbook/