Never underestimate the power of good customer service. Good customer service remains an integral component of any successful business. Overall, customer enquiries are good news: they demonstrate an interest in your business, and this interest often leads to sales. Not to mention, the customers who seek this kind of support are usually some of your most loyal and engaged followers.
Nowadays, the majority of small business startups will take the time to respond with individualised replies instead of automated responses. This is time well spent, as it gives your business a chance to develop its own brand tone of voice, provide useful information to customers, and build customer relationships. However, despite the initial feeling of excitement many merchants experience when first launching and being inundated with customer queries, providing a highly personalised customer service experience is a timely activity.
In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s essential to invest in good customer service, and how to optimise the customer service experience for you and your customers.
Four reasons you should never ignore customer service
1. You’ll increase customer loyalty and sales
Customer support services are fundamental when building relationships with your customers. If you want to keep them coming back, offering clear and helpful customer support is essential. By providing excellent customer service, this an opportunity to present your business in a good light and get one up on your competition. To be a real customer service frontrunner, you’ll need to appear reliable. Traditional brick and mortar stores already have an advantage over ecommerce businesses seeing as customers are able to physically interact with a product before purchasing it, unlike ecommerce purchases. As a result, many consumers associate ecommerce with being unreliable.
You should provide customers with multiple communication channels so that there is a convenient means for all of your target market. Try to respond as quickly as possible and ensure you’ve covered all your customer’s queries. Reputation is fundamental to customer loyalty, and a customer is much more likely to recommend you to a friend if they’ve received excellent customer service.
2. Sometimes your customers really need you
It’s inevitable that your customers will encounter problems from time to time whilst shopping on your e-commerce store. Perhaps they require some additional product information, or they’re having trouble exchanging a product. The worst case scenario is when a customer can’t find the correct contact information and their frustration leads them to abandon your site altogether. Fast paced Twitter responses, phone lines that aren’t engaged, and active live chats will all contribute to an effective and reliable communication channel that will strengthen your relationship with your customers.
3. Show off your brand personality
It goes without saying that whatever content you’re submitting (including customer correspondence) contributes to your brand’s tone of voice. Customer service is a brilliant platform to demonstrate that you’re a helpful and supportive business. Use your multi-channel customer support to impress customers with clear, concise dialogues, and they’ll be more likely to recommend you. As you attract more visitors, ensure that your tone of voice remains consistent - every customer should receive the same standard of service no matter how large your business.
4. It's a win-win situation
Companies who truly value their audience provide exceptional customer service. It’s pretty logical that customers who receive excellent service are happy, thus showing their gratitude to staff, leaving positive feedback, in turn spending more money. This positive reinforcement will further fuel your customer support team to keep up the good work and continue improving their customer service skills!
How to start offering good customer support
Before you prepare your business’ customer service strategy, you’ll need to be in touch with consumers in order to know what they want. Everyone’s different when it comes to customer support - there’s a lot of a personal preference, but preparing for this will make your business stand out as a strong contender. Multi channel customer support offers customers a variety of contact options, so that they can quickly get in touch when necessary. Everyone has a preferred medium, but the most successful businesses recognise strength in availability, so set up a multitude of channels including email, live chat, social media and phone. Just make sure that whenever you offer multichannel support, you’re still keeping track of all customer interactions. One way to do this is by using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage all your customer communications in the one place.
Some examples of world-class customer service
The Ritz-Carlton and the laptop charger
The Ritz-Carlton is renounced for its excellent customer service. A perfect example of this is when businessman John DiJulius accidentally left his laptop charger in his suite in their Sarasota complex. He hadn’t even had the chance to call the hotel to enquire when a first class air delivery arrived at his home. The package contained Mr DiJulius’ charger with the following note: ‘Mr. DiJulius, I wanted to make sure we got this to you right away. I am sure you need it, and, just in case, I sent you an extra charger for your laptop.’ The message was signed by a member of the ‘Loss Prevention Department’ – very smooth. There’s a reason this story became famous. Yes, it may seem a little extreme, but the Ritz-Carlton is a global leader in the hospitality industry, and they know how integral customer loyalty and lifetime value are to a business.
Trader Joe’s Delivery
When an 89 year old man was snowed in during the holidays in Pennsylvania, his daughter was concerned, calling round to find a store to deliver him some food. At this point in time Trader Joe’s wasn’t offering delivery, however in this instance the staff made an exception, making sure that the elderly man received a free of charge package before the holidays.
By allowing staff to take ownership of customer service, Trader Joe’s staff were able to use their initiative to go above and beyond the customer’s expectation. Trader Joe’s received amazing coverage for the story, with many consumers describing the brand as compassionate and heart-warming on their social media channels.
SnapEngage 404 page damage control
A key leader in damage control and providing a great customer service is SnapEnage! The software company knows that customers who encounter 404 pages generally abandon the site altogether and wanted to tackle customers’ frustrations head on. By integrating live chat into their 404 pages, customer support assistants are able to provide fast paced communication to redirect customers and keep them moving along the sales funnel.
How to optimise your website to reduce customer support emails
You want to treat customers properly and show your appreciation, but over time, the novelty wears off. Your team will notice the same questions popping up over and over again, and will be desperate to find ways of streamlining the process. And it’s not only about saving time: an efficient customer service strategy saves your company bags of cash, and you can even enhance the service you’re providing, so that customers receive better support. Responding to emails takes up a huge amount of your support team’s resources, so it’s important to optimise your website to reduce the amount of customer support emails.
1. Prepare your FAQ page
It’s an essential part of any ecommerce site, and the customers who refer to FAQs really appreciate being able to find the information themselves, in turn improving the user experience. An informative FAQ page saves your customer support team from answering a lot of the same questions. Plus, your FAQ page is a great place to publicise your journey: who you are, your story, your products, your USP, shipping information, legal information and contact information. FAQ pages can be a real deal closer. If you provide customers with the correct details they’re looking for, you’ll be able to easily convince them and move them along the sales funnel.
2. Feature FAQs in your Post-Transaction Emails
Experian suggests that post purchase confirmation emails have a much higher opening rate than other emails (up to 8 times higher!) Consider what the customer wants to know at each stage of their transaction. Post-purchase, they’ll want to receive any important information about their order. Let consumers know when you’ll ship and when they’ll receive the product, as well as any returns information. Instead of sharing the customer’s tracking number, which they’ll need to cut and paste manually, generate a tracking link. This great way to improve UX. Customers feel more in control of their order, and know when they can look forward to receiving it. By providing customers with all the information they need, you’re reducing the number of customer support emails you’ll receive from customers. Transactional emails are an opportunity for your business to engage your customers with other strategies too. Try embedding your social media share buttons, and suggesting related products so that you’re cross selling and upselling, too.
3. Encourage your loyal customers to help: set up community forums
Some customers aren’t necessarily seeking customer support, but want the opportunity to have discussions with other customers. Setting up a Q&A forum, Facebook group or Twitter conversation will prompt users to start talking to each other and answering each other’s questions, attracting more interest and influencing more customers to join. Businesses often use community forums as an additional way to supplement razor sharp customer service channels, and a crystal-clear FAQ page. Setting up an open conversation for your audience allows them to discuss and review certain product features, share tips, and can be an amazing way to grow interest in your product.
4. Set customers’ expectations
Never ignore customers who communicate with you. If a question comes in, you’ll be expected to respond. Whilst you can’t always drop everything immediately, most companies will send an automated email when a customer gets in touch. This will inform the customer of a deadline (usually around 48 hours) in which they’ll receive a response. Your response time shouldn’t be more than 72 hours, but remember, if you cover your bases and respond sooner, then customers will be pleasantly surprised. It’s all about keeping the customer in the loop so they never feel forgotten.
5. When you do need to send emails, prepare templates
As your business grows, your team can’t be expected to personalise and adapt every email they send out. Letting go of personalising individual emails will save you a lot of time! Try formulating several templates for specific recurring cases to help your team to cut some corners.
Try using these points to structure your email template:
- A positive introduction, apologising if necessary
- Your detailed response, answering any questions
- A screenshot, if needed to demonstrate an answer
- Highlight your FAQ page, where more information can be found
- A polite, reassuring close, highlighting that they can contact you in the future for any other issues.
If you’re worried that your email seems too impersonal because of the template, then use it as just that: a template. You’ll still save time and can apply more relevant information around it for each customer. Large corporations have databases full of email templates that adhere to customer needs, making for an efficient customer support service.
Some cool apps and services to make your life easier
Zendesk and Freshdesk. These are two of the leading cloud based softwares that businesses are using to streamline customer support processes. The apps provide a platform that allows you to curate and organise multiple channels, all in the one place, so that your customer support agents don’t have to constantly switch between channels. This has a big effect on the consistency of your tone of voice, and helps to prioritise which consumer queries are urgent, and which you can tend to later. What else? Ticketing solutions ensure you’re able to keep track of queries, installing live chat is super easy and you’re able to distribute calls to specific customer agents. Zendesk is particularly advantageous when looking to analytics in order to identify areas of improvement.
LiveAgent is a less expensive (although less advanced) alternative specifically designed for small to medium-sized businesses. Whilst the software isn’t quite as swift, you’ll still be able to launch an interactive live chat, set up video calls and automate all your ticket assignments.
Groove is an excellent all in one solution that’s really user friendly, with an interface that’s completely intuitive and really well designed. You’re essentially paying for the principal tools: messaging and ticketing. Any other additional features will need to be integrated manually (such as live chat - which you can download with Olark). It can be a bit more work, but it does mean you’re only integrating the features you really need, and seeking out the best add-ons when necessary. Lots of businesses rave about the ease of configuration with other business email accounts, meaning customer support teams can respond to queries throughout their regular day.
We're here for you
Want to improve your customer service? Get in touch with Elkfox and we can assist you in building a superior multi channel support system for your customers. Let’s face it, they deserve it.