In many ways, the success of your business rests on your customer service department. Companies need to keep customers satisfied by offering them the type of support that meets or exceeds their expectations, but unfortunately, many businesses are missing the mark.
The customer experience is becoming increasingly influential to consumer behavior. This is particularly true in terms of the customer service experience that your business offers to its clients.
According to a report from American Express, more than 30% of customers reported that if a business offered customer support that did not meet their standards, they would switch to a competitor.
In today’s highly competitive market, it is critical that your business offers the type of customer support that meets or exceeds consumer expectations. This will require you to take a look at the current status of your support strategies and results.
If your team is guilty of these mistakes, your support department could be setting itself up for failure from the start.
1. Not Knowing Your Customers
Although the global market is bigger than ever, customers still want to feel like they are just as important as the next person. This is why personalization has been such a big trend lately – little details such as using customers’ names, remembering their past purchases, or recommending products that match their preferences are things that make the customer feel special and appreciated.
This same approach needs to be followed in the customer service experience. The key to this is a strong retail CRM and communications system that manages all of the interactions that a customer has with your business under an integrated, cross-channel profile for each customer.
Zipline is one such communication platform that combines internal messaging, intel sharing, and market research to help retailers get their processes right.
Data such as past purchases, previous interactions with sales or support teams, or any other important details can be easily accessed on Zipline so that customer service representatives can provide better assistance.
Customer service representatives should also use this information when appropriate to show their care and appreciation.
For instance, answering an inquiry with language such as “Hello Mary, we just wanted to thank you for being a loyal customer for these past two years. Are you calling in regards to the sweater that you purchased last week?” will communicate to that customer that your brand truly cares about her experience.
Know who your customers are, and cater to them.
2. Your Customer Service Contact Information Is Hard to Find
It is extremely frustrating when a customer cannot find an easy way to get in touch with your support team. If customers have to search high and low for an answer to their question or a contact form, it will instantly leave a bad taste in their mouth, which will lead to a negative experience.
According to Atlas, people want easy access to customer service, including a telephone number (61%), customer support email (60%), live chat (57%), and an FAQ section (51%).
Businesses need to make it easy for customers to contact them.
Customers also feel aggravated if they get the sense that a business does not respect their precious time. Bouncing a caller from one representative to the next with long wait times in between is the perfect recipe for an angry customer.
Support teams need to understand the value of the customer’s time and experience and do all they can to show their appreciation.
The simplest solution is to offer a sincere apology if a customer is placed on hold or transferred to another department. A better option is to either ask the right questions from the very beginning so the customer is sent to the correct representative from the start or to offer a call-back service in the case of long wait times due to high call volumes.
More companies are opting to use live chat services that offer nearly instant assistance around the clock. This option resonates well with customers, too, considering that 41% of consumers prefer live chat for support, over other channels such as phone, email, and social media.
If you decide to combine live chat with social media as a channel for customer service (more on this in point #5), your best bet is to build a bot for Facebook Messenger using a platform such as Chatfuel, which lets you automate your lead nurturing and engage with prospects in real-time.
You can build, configure, and customize your own Messenger bot on Chatfuel without writing any code.
Customers are certainly not getting any more patient when they need help. As a result, many companies are turning to AI to replace humans at the support desk. A Gartner report predicted that by 2020, nearly 90% of customer interactions will be handled without human involvement.
Customers need their answers quickly, and without responsive and easy-to-find customer service, they will go to your competitors instead.
3. Inconsistent Inventory
It is the customer support team’s responsibility to ensure a positive shopping experience from beginning to end because this is the department that deals directly with customers. Although the customer service department is not in charge of inventory management, issues with product availability or delayed shipping will typically fall to the service team.
Unfortunately, if an item goes out of stock or its availability is unclear, it could lead to an extremely negative experience that causes customers to look elsewhere.
According to research from Salesforce, 61% of consumers agree that visibility of product availability and alerts once an item goes out of stock is something that associates absolutely need to know in order to improve the customer experience.
For example, online retailer Stage notifies customers when an item they are interested in is back in stock. This helps the customer service department know, too.
Stage lets customers stay up-to-date on its inventory.
Support teams need to use systems that update inventory counts in real time so there are no surprises when it comes to availability. Furthermore, customer service departments need to offer realistic and honest information in regards to any delays in shipments or changes in the product range, such as limited availability for certain colors or sizes.
Customer service associates should also stay on top of restocks – Salesforce’s report also found that the majority of customers would prefer to receive product details about new availability particularly through mobile devices or email.
Sales teams need to be informed of any inventory changes.
4. Hard-to-Navigate Websites and Stores
Poor website design and navigational capabilities are the top culprits of a negative customer experience.
This issue can be exacerbated if a customer is already irritated and looking for answers to a problem, as it leads to further frustration. Of course, this issue does not exist solely online – an awkward store layout with no associates in sight can be just as infuriating.
Customer service teams need to take the reins on making it as easy as possible to get in touch with them. For online entities, this may require a change in website navigation or an emphasis on helpful content that provides answers to common inquiries. For brick-and-mortar stores, simple changes such as clear signage or communication devices for instant assistance could be quite beneficial.
For example, some larger retailers have a call button for customers to hit if they need assistance.
This ensures customers are always helped when needed.
Businesses must make online and in-person navigation easy.
5. Inactive Social Media Presence
Social media is becoming one of the first places that customers look to interact with brands directly.
In a Sprout Social survey, nine out of ten consumers stated that they have used social platforms to communicate with a business, primarily in regards to a customer service issue or concern.
While this approach is certainly beneficial for consumers and makes it easy for them to reach out to companies, it does present numerous challenges for service teams.
First of all, customers expect nearly instant responses through these channels. They are not willing to wait two to three business days like they would with an email inquiry. As this channel becomes even more popular, customer service departments are going to be flooded with these types of social inquiries that need to be handled in an extremely timely manner.
This means that social listening tools are now no longer just an option for marketing teams. Customer service representatives need to be active on social media platforms and both publicly and privately handle customer issues through these channels.
It is often best that service representatives issue a public reply as quickly as possible along with a follow-up through a private message in order to collect the details needed for resolution, such as GoDaddy does below.
Businesses must be responsive on social media.
Succeed at Customer Service
The service that your customer support team offers consumers is incredibly important. Great customer experiences can be the exact competitive advantage that your business can use in its favor to keep customers engaged and satisfied.
Be sure that your service teams are avoiding these missteps that could be standing in the way of a successful support experience that delights customers.
If you can't handle customer service on your own, you can reach out to a customer support service company.