Do your customers get a great deal when they get in touch with you online? Could you be doing more for them?
We all know how important customer service is in today’s social proof age. And a superior customer service strategy relies on your ability to anticipate your customers’ needs. That’s where AI (artificial intelligence) and automation step in…
Help yourself help others by making the most of sophisticated data tools to get your customer data processed quickly and accurately. Get the right data infrastructure in place in order to receive and handle all customer requests promptly.
This post will outline six top tips for providing great online customer service when time is of the essence.
Get to know the people you’re serving
To build your name as a trusted brand, you will need to know who your customers are and what they are looking for in a company. You need to be 100% clear on your core customer personas before you venture out and start answering customer requests and emails.
Why? A mismatched approach will annoy customers and show you up as an amateur. Customers will expect a sophisticated communication strategy that meets their expectations.
- Selling to experts? You’re primarily appealing to those who are already experts in their industry. Therefore, your customer service team will need to be fully versed in the advanced workings of your products & service, and be able to handle high-level conversations with busy people. Be prepared for some fast-moving email exchanges.
- Alternatively, if your product is something that appeals to ‘novices,’ your customers will need a service that is reliable, fast-moving and in-keeping with the level of customer service you would expect from a global brand.
Find the blogs and social media sites your audience regularly use and dig into any questions and queries they have. Search for long-tail keyword phrases in Google Keyword Planner and take note of common ‘pain points.’
Anticipating your customer’s needs starts with building a long list of all of your customers’ potential queries and displaying the answers prominently in your site content in the form of FAQs, help guides, and an interactive knowledgebase.
Use bots to bail you out (fast)
You can also take your frequently asked questions and program them into an automated chat bot that runs from your homepage. Chatbots can provide personalized answers that solve your customer’s problems immediately and thus frees up precious time for your team.
You can also use the data on the backend of your chat application to plan website changes based on responses. For example, if you are seeing lots of immediate questions on your shipping terms, this will signal that you need to display the relevant info in a more readily accessible place on your website.
You can also use chatbots to increase customer engagement. A lot of excellent customer service comes from the merchant drawing out the customer’s needs and guiding them towards the right decisions. Set up a simple question and answer response sequence within your bot and help your customer find what they need from you in a personalized, easy-to-scale way.
Ensuring that you are reducing the length of time your customer has to wait to get their issues solved is vital. If you can give your customers the ability to do things like raise their own help tickets or track their own orders, you can provide transparency and deepen your customer’s connection with your business.
Real-time social media monitoring is another excellent way of offering great customer service. Again, this comes down to anticipating your audience’s needs and giving them what they want. It can also help you defuse any negative conversations brewing about your brand online,
Set up social media monitoring, Google Alerts, and take a look at some competitor analysis tools. Set up triggers to alert you to keywords when they are mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. and always be on the search for relevant hashtags.
The aim is to see a conversation occurring in real time and respond with a practical solution. Keep sensitive conversations private, but acknowledge negative reviews openly.
Show them the proof
It is vital to build up a bank of customer reviews and make your presence known on all of the big (relevant) social media sites. You will need a robust social media marketing strategy that encourages your customers to share their stories and content. This will help others see you as a trusted brand that welcomes their customers’ input.
If you’re new to something like ecommerce, use an online store that offers plenty of easy to manage apps and automation opportunities to help you get started. Apps can automatically send your customer an email prompt asking them for a review, generate automated customer surveys, etc. You want to make sure you are using all of the customer automation tools that could be relevant to your business.
Decision-makers on the ground
Once you have automated as much as you can, and reduced the likelihood of your customers coming to your team with common problems, you will need highly-trained staff to handle the serious inquiries.
There is nothing worse than waiting to get through to a call center employee, only to have the assistant misunderstand your needs or be unable to help. Or to be stuck in an endless email loop with an automated customer service bot.
You have to ensure that your staff remain ‘up to date’ on the latest tools, technologies and usage trends of their typical customer base. Bear any cultural industry shifts in mind during training.
Customer service as a channel
You need to stop thinking about marketing/sales/customer service in strict silos. Instead, adopt a multichannel approach where they all interact and contribute to each other. After all, they are all part of the conversations you have with your customers.
- For example, customer service and support data can be leveraged by sales and marketing teams to help them create more targeted and better performing content.
- Email marketing is a good example of how brands can bring their marketing, sales, service, and support operations all under one communication channel. From refining email subject lines, to deep customer segmentation — improving your email marketing and support channels should be a top priority.
- Video is another great customer communication channel that you can make the most of both on your website, and on external channels. Immediate, emotive, cheap, and easy to digest, think about how you can start to use video as a training and support channel for your business.
To provide the gold standard in customer service you will have to ensure that you have all the tools and trained staff in place to answer to your customers’ urgent queries. Thankfully, the digital world offers a whole host of tools and hacks that you can make the most of to scale your operations quickly and efficiently.