By Chuck Thomas / in Blog, VALCORT DNA / April 17, 2017
Successful customer impressions begin at the front door of your business. That front door these days is often an email in-box, a Website inquiry, a cell phone call or text, a Tweet, post or comment. Or it might be someone actually at your front door!
Don’t miss the opportunity to make that first impression. #27 of Valcort’s 35 Keys to Business Growth reads: Assure that every inquiry that comes into your company receives an appreciative, supportive response and a quick solution that builds trust and confidence with the customer.
If you’re like me, when you think about your own customer inquiries, your mind goes to situations when you’ve been the customer and your call for help or information has been tortuously long and ultimately unpleasant (the last two that come to mind for me are calls to the IRS and to my health insurance company. Hours of waiting!) There are many examples of what NOT to do. But how can you be best-in-class in your responses to inquiries, complaints, and comments?
When customers contact your company, they have expectations. They expect their query to be addressed. They expect a solution to their concerns and an answer to their questions. And they expect it fast.
According to a one study, 47 percent of customers trying to connect to businesses through online tools expect a response within 24 hours of initial contact. Many anticipate a response within 8 hours! This goal isn’t always feasible, but focusing on fast response times is vital to maintaining a high standard of customer service.
Here are some tips on calls, emails, Web and social media:
1. Make calls a pleasure
Your phone representatives are certainly at the front door of customer service, entrusted with the demanding task of pleasing and appeasing customers. They need to be versatile and equipped with a strong skill set to handle the complexity of the job. Here are ten customer service skills agents should master to deliver the very best service from Vocalcom.com.
2. Make emails sing for you.
Did you know that 41% of companies do not respond to customer service emails. Nine out of ten don’t acknowledge or inform the customer that an email has been received. 99% of companies do not follow up on customers to see if they were satisfied with the response. Only one in ten companies can answer questions in the first reply. Four out of 10 companies do not have an email address or phone number clearly visible on their website.
What does it all mean? The majority of companies are failing to meet customer expectations!
To respond to all customer support emails, SuperOffice.com recommends that companies:
3. Be a social media maven.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved to become more than emergent platforms for marketing and advertising. Increasingly, they are also valid and important channels through which consumers solicit and receive customer service. According to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report, nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or to complain—and a third of social media users prefer “social care” to the phone.
You need to be a social media rock star. But how? Zendesk.com provides a guide with some best practices for providing great customer service through social media. Highlights:
One of the first challenges to providing great customer service over social media is determining where to focus time and resources. What social media sites are frequented by your customers?
Monitoring social media is a first step, listening is equally important from a customer service perspective. When participants in a 2012 survey from Oracle were asked what was most important when visiting a company’s social media page, 43 percent responded that they were looking for a direct response to their question.
Depending on the volume of social interactions your brand generates, and the size of your staff, your ability to keep track of social inquiries may be made easier by a customer service platform that can integrate with social media and turn posts, tweets, and direct or private messages into tickets.
“Live help” typically refers to phone or chat support, yet in the customer’s mind, social media is a gray area that more closely straddles the line between chat and email support. There is the potential for help to be instantaneous if social media is constantly monitored, but more likely, help will arrive hours later. Several studies have found that the majority of customers expect a response over social media within the same day.
4. Provide online self-support.
When millennials run into technology problems, their first response is to pick up their phone — but not to make a call. Rather, the device is often used to search for ways to solve the issue online, without having to speak to a customer service representative. A recent survey found that 73 percent of consumers want the ability to solve problems on their own.
Many companies are taking advantage of interactive mobile apps where customers can view bills, manage their account and change their service options directly through their smart phone. Mobile apps also allow for proactive customer interaction through push notifications, informing customers of approaching data overage or indicating when a monthly bill is ready for review almost instantaneously.
Empowering customers to manage their accounts and solve issues saves both the customer and the company valuable time and frustration.
There’s someone at your door. Answer it.