Despite the fact that customer service has long been recognised as an important revenue driver, not all businesses manage to get it right.
How many times have you gone to a restaurant, café or store and been disappointed with the service you’ve received? How have those experiences impacted your desire to return to said business? Probably more than you think.
And in the digital age, where platforms like TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google reviews allow customers to easily share opinions about your business online, it seems crazy not to make your customer service strategy a top priority.
So, how best can your business improve its service to customers in 2021?
Digital transformation is necessary for business success
The Coronavirus pandemic has been influential in transforming the customer service industry as a whole. For the most part, customers were only able to engage with businesses virtually, and customer service teams were left answering more questions than ever before.
It goes without saying that a long-term digital strategy will be vital to success. Even before the pandemic, a shift towards e-commerce was evident. Now that Covid-19 has exacerbated this and made online shopping the new norm, investing in your website should take priority.
Where customers may have previously phoned your business to ask questions, now the first place most people tend to turn for answers is online. Make sure that the FAQ section of your business’s website is up to date, and that it answers every possible question a customer may have.
Live chat has now become the leading digital contact method for online customers. According to research, 46% of customers prefer live chat compared to 29% for email and 16% for social media. For businesses looking to boost conversions, investing in live chat will be crucial.
Artificial intelligence should be considered
You should also think about investing in chat-bots to ensure queries can be answered around the clock. Chat-bots use artificial intelligence (AI) to answer common customer questions quickly. These automated responses don’t require employees to be present, and can be customised to respond in a way that aligns with your business’s brand.
If you go down this route, make sure you focus on your chatbot’s tone of voice. Whilst customers will value the ability to get answers at any time day or night, they will be even more impressed if your business also manages to provide a personal experience at the same time.
Be sure to focus on speed
When considering your customer service strategy you should also think about speed. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, people’s expectations for the time it will take their queries to get resolved have increased.
Customers are becoming more demanding and less patient, they don’t want to be waiting around for answers to their questions. For this reason, it’s imperative to optimise your website’s speed and customer service department’s ability to respond to prospects quickly.
Invest in the right people
Your customer service team is crucial to your business’s success. They are the first line of communication and by investing in a good customer service experience, you are helping to ensure your business’s reputation is maintained.
By providing world-class customer service, the customer service team is able to retain customers and influence testimonials and reviews, which in turn, results in new customers flocking to your business.
All businesses recognise the importance of branding. The people you choose to be client-facing will take responsibility for how your brand is perceived by the public. These people are influential in ensuring customers stick with your business. In fact, 73% of customers stay loyal to brands because of friendly customer service representatives.
Funding your customer service investment
Though investing in your digital strategy will cost money, it’s necessary for business growth and long-term success. There are lots of ways you can free up working capital in your business, and one way to invest in your strategy quickly is to take on a short-term business loan.
As business funding has grown in popularity with UK SMEs, more and more lenders have entered the market to provide innovative funding solutions. As a result, businesses are now able to access solutions that won’t require them to enter lengthy contracts or pay extortionate interest rates.
With short-term loans, companies can receive money quickly and make repayments over a relatively short period. By this time your customer service strategy should be in place and you will already be beginning to reap the benefits of your investment.
Putting customers first in 2021
Remember, the first step to building a good customer service strategy is to have a clear vision and think about what your customers value most. Take time to do prior research and make sure you understand your customers in depth before making any long term decisions. Empathy is always important and connecting with people on an emotional level always goes a long way.
Continue to strive to be better, keep in regular communication with your customers and ensure you get feedback for how your customer service could be improved. If you do all this, your business is sure to stand out in a sea of mediocre service.
About the Author
Simon Moorcroft is CTO of Capalona, a leading UK business finance brokerage. Driving digital transformation in the business finance space, Simon is committed to improving access to funding for businesses of all sizes. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.