Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how much the world of business has evolved, even in areas we don’t often think of as having improved. For example, the next time you’re waiting to hear back from a customer service rep, recall the days before the internet, when automated responses were king.
Indeed, in the 20th century, customer service calls usually went something like:
“Thank you for calling Acme corporation. Your call is important to us. For client services, press 1. For sales, press 2…”
This system – which has existed since the 1970s and is (sadly) still in use today – was never meant to provide great customer service. As many suspected, the entire point of having such a laborious and time-consuming phone tree was to achieve call avoidance, thereby saving the company money on customer service agents.
Is it any wonder, then, that so many big companies have such awful customer service reputations?
New technology and innovative solutions have allowed customer service departments across industries to improve dramatically. Yet when it comes to actually providing top-quality customer support, many companies are unable (or unwilling) to distinguish between call avoidance and effective practices. The metrics for success have been muddled for so long – after all, it’s tough to tell the difference between a customer who gives up in frustration, and one who’s solved the problem on their own.
When it comes to customer service in 2020, companies must implement the best methods for their product or service. Identifying the right strategy can take time, yet it’s essential to success. Here are a few key ways to decide where and when to make those needed changes.
1. Know Your Customer Profile
Too often, startups and other emerging companies are content to add a chatbot to their home page and call it their customer service department. Even when there’s a vague plan for an expanded department later on, or a troubleshooting email address buried somewhere in the ‘About’ page, companies still end up dragging their feet on implementing a real customer service solution.
This can be the difference between a company’s success and failure. When customers don’t understand, enjoy, or appreciate the product or service, they never become the brand evangelists start-ups need to survive.
One of the more common misconceptions that causes this issue are assumptions about a typical customer’s profile – often, with regards to age. Millennials are a lucrative target market, yet only 37% prefer to interact with chatbots over humans when it comes to customer interaction.
That doesn’t mean newer applications don’t have their place as part of your customer service effort. Even if your target market skews older, having the option to communicate with an AI is still an asset, even if most will opt to speak to a human. At the very least, an omnichannel approach to customer service shows your dedication is serious, whether the communication is via phone, email, face-to-face, or with AI.
2. Be Clear, Not Complicated
There’s a limit to what you can offer with each approach to customer service. If your product is tricky to reboot, for example, you may find that your customer service team has some trouble explaining this over the phone. In this case, you’d want to have pictures and videos readily available online to explain whatever process is causing confusion, as well as making sure your team knows where to direct customers if they get the question.
The same rules apply the other way around. It’s simply not enough to have an FAQ and an email address – at least, not when you’re building your customer base. Every company has budgetary limits, however a good customer service team actually generates revenue by helping to retain customers and grow brand awareness.
Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% raises profits 25%, according to research from Bain & Company. Companies with fantastic, clear, and uncomplicated customer service are the ones who achieve this growth – especially when your competitors are already implementing their own solutions for retention.
3. Never Let A Customer Down
The importance of customer retention simply cannot be overstated. The statistics on this essential corporate rule are often as shocking as they are sobering. For example, did you know it takes the average SaaS company 18 months to recoup the cost of initial customer acquisition?
With numbers like that, every customer is essential. It’s not just a financial need, either – companies that lose sales over customer confusion, miscommunication, or other easily fixable problems simply aren’t living up to their industry potential.
Keeping every customer you can means meeting their needs, whatever they are. This can require some out-of-the-box thinking. Your entire business may function in English, but a customer may still prefer to speak or write in Spanish or another language when they connect with your customer service team.
Keeping track of the vital data during every customer interaction provides the insights you need to thrive. This starts with making sure your customers are able to create a ticket in the first place. By offering a multi-channel approach, you’re creating a level of openness customers now demand.
The days of call avoidance are long over. By embracing openness and encouraging interaction, you can ensure your business thrives.
No ‘dial 0 for assistance’ required.
About the Author
Jay Reeder is founder and CEO of VoiceNation, a live answering company and an award-winning provider of customer service. Jay is a serial entrepreneur with more than 23 years of experience in the telecommunications industry starting his first company in 1994 and has been recognized by PC Magazine, Clutch, and others as an industry leader.