By Sam O’Brien, Ring Central
Customers have always expected quick, competent customer service. It used to be enough to have call agents operating in business hours. Now, there’s an expectation for digital customer service, often across multiple platforms. Having an omnichannel strategy is the best way of handling this – and here are ten top tips to get you on your way.
1. Understand Where Your Customers Are
The easiest way to ensure you’re providing top notch customer service is to meet your users where they already are. Look at your history of customer contact – and in particular, look at where the longest response times are. It may be that you need to change your team structure to place a bigger emphasis on emails rather than calls. Alternatively, you may need to scale up your social media team. Making these changes is a quick way to improve customer experience.
2. Improve Response Time
Most customers expect a same-day response to emails, and an even quicker one on social media.
It’s important to try to meet these expectations. For smaller businesses, it can be challenging to have a round-the-clock response team – but there are solutions to keep customers satisfied even when there’s no one available.
Automated responses acknowledging the enquiry, explaining the wait time, and giving answers to some commonly asked questions can go a long way. For something a little more interactive, chatbots can be an excellent alternative when live chat isn’t available.
3. Help Customers Help Themselves
Another way to increase the speed and quality of your responses is to have fewer things to reply to! This can be done by making it easier for customers to help themselves – and many customers prefer this self-service method, too. Moving toward self-service can be as easy as expanding your FAQ section. For more complicated requests – particularly useful if you provide technology or software solutions – video tutorials or the ability to schedule online meetings with experts can go a long way.
4. Keep Cross-Platform Records
There is nothing as infuriating to a customer as being bounced between departments and platforms while having to repeat the same story. Avoid making your customers frustrated by improving knowledge management across platforms and teams. If someone makes a complaint on Twitter, and is asked to call in to discuss, this is already one barrier in the way of them being satisfied.
If they call in, and are then transferred between departments and then repeat the same story, you may have lost a customer entirely. Instead, provide a direct line and ensure that the customer service team can easily see their past communication when given a reference (like their name). This will make the process much smoother.
5. Be Mobile Friendly
People are more and more likely to be doing business on their phones, not at a desktop. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile use, you’re likely to be driving away a lot of potential customers.
Luckily, this has quite an easy fix if you’re willing to invest the time and money. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile usage and – if it would be relevant – consider making an app.
6. Rethink How You Prioritize Messages
Most companies will have a way of prioritizing incoming messages so they can reply to the most urgent ones first. This works just fine for emails, but not as much for social media – especially Twitter. On Twitter, customers can see if you have replied to other people. If they see that they’ve been ignored but later complaints have been responded to, they’re likely to be frustrated and even angered. Make sure you understand how to prioritize messages differently for different platforms.
7. Link SMS To Your Other Platforms
SMS messages are a hidden gem in the world of customer experience. They’re a great way to keep customers engaged, especially if you provide a service. If you have made a customer journey map, think about all the possible points a customer might be inconvenienced or forget something. Maybe they’ve booked a haircut through your software or need to renew a subscription. Rather than relying on them logging into your app, or checking their email, send a text. This is an immediate reminder and one that’s quick to engage with. You may even find customers prefer to respond via text too!
8. Keep Training Your Staff
As websites update, smartphones change, and social media platforms expand, there’s a lot to stay on top of. Invest in ongoing professional development for your staff members. If your customer service team understands current expectations, they’ll find it easier to fulfill them – and stay ahead of your competitors. This also has the advantage of increasing staff retention alongside customer retention. Ongoing training is a huge selling point for many job seekers.
With an omnichannel strategy, you also want to ensure that your staff are familiar with the scope of your customer service channels – even if it’s not their specific area. Making sure your call center staff understand Twitter, Facebook, and other channels, as well as your contact center software, will allow them to be more helpful to your customers.
9. Don’t Forget The Classics
Remember: omnichannel is about covering many channels in a unified way. Tempting as it is to focus on the newer developments – apps and social media – you shouldn’t forget about the classics. While younger generations do seem to have a preference for online communication, email is pretty universal.
It’s important to invest your energy in upcoming technology without sacrificing your commitment to good customer service in older ones.
10. Test, Test, Test
Before you implement these steps, test certain metrics. After you’ve implemented everything you’ve learned, test them all again. Just as physical shops have secret shoppers, so too should you! Make sure that everything is working as intended by checking the following:
- Average response time by platform
- Shared knowledge between channels
- Ease to navigate
- Satisfaction regarding the response
If you don’t see improvement, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure out what’s wrong. Even if you do see improvements, it’s important to regularly check in by testing to ensure you’re staying up to date. It’s far better to find a problem yourself than lose a customer.
About the Author:
Sam O’Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams.