Customer service is now more important than ever for businesses of all industries. Thanks to social media, one bad experience can turn into a brand management nightmare that erodes customer loyalty and turns business away. With so many competitive businesses to choose from today, customers now often make their final selection based solely on the customer service reviews.
For busy businesses, less than perfect customer service has become an issue of time and manpower rather than willingness to improve. Handling feedback, questions and complaints requires in-person, online and phone assistance. It is not enough to respond to customer needs. Response needs to be quick and provide real value. There are more customer service caveats than ever, but there are also better ways to make systems more efficient.
Anticipate Customer Needs
If you can head off questions before they are asked you’ll save your customer service department a lot of time and energy. This can be achieved by collecting data from current customers. Analyze the customer service calls and emails that you received in the past to look for commonalities and trends. A customer survey can also be highly beneficial for identifying needs and weaknesses that should to be addressed.
Use Your Website as a Customer Service Resource
The customer analysis used to anticipate needs can be put into action on your website. FAQ sections, how-to videos and forums are just a few ways that you can help customers find answers to their common questions and concerns. The one-time investment of making the assets can help reduce customer service calls and emails well into the future.
Invest in an Efficient Business Phone System
Your business phone system can add to the overall efficiency of your customer service department or be a hindrance. Business communication systems provider ATSI notes that failure to customize the phone system to your exact needs and maintain the system once it’s in place often creates time-consuming issues. From training new customer service reps to leveraging mobile technology, customization is the key to getting more out of your phone systems.
Sync Your Communication Systems
Today there are so many ways for customers to contact businesses that trying to keep it all in order can be extremely difficult. Communication systems that are synced together do the bulk of the work for you. Customer service reps can see if a person has already emailed prior to calling, whether they have filled out a form online, reached out on social media, etc.
Use Automated Emails
Automation is a beautiful thing in terms of efficiency. There are a number of email services and client relationship management software systems like Intercom that can help you set up automated emails. These can be sent on a schedule to people on an email list or sent in response to a customer interaction such as filling out a form for more information. Even a short email stating that the customer will be contacted shortly is important in that it acknowledges the customer, which makes them feel like you are paying attention.
Monitor Social Media Accounts
Most businesses are creating social media accounts because they understand it adds to their online presence. However, many businesses are doing little more than establishing accounts and occasionally making posts. Effective social media requires commitment and attention. Yelp, Facebook and Twitter are just a few examples of places where customers can make comments that will be seen by the masses. If you are not actively involved you could miss opportunities to connect with brand evangelists or address complaints quickly to minimize the negative impact.
A customer service rep can do daily monitoring in less than 30 minutes, or you can use a brand reputation management service to do this for you. It may take a little time, but monitoring social media can help you gather more customer data, head off problems before they become an issue and improve the company’s online presence.
Better customer service has to be a top priority, but it does not have to be a drain on your resources. By putting the right systems in place and taking the time to head off common issues, customer service can be the most efficient department in the office.
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