Real-Time Customer Service: Meeting Your Customers Where They Are
Customer care is a must: 66% of consumers switch brands because of poor customer service. Yet, keeping long-term customers is the key to better business, with repeat customers spending 67% more than new customers.
Today’s customer is moving fast, and wants fast and reliable resolutions when problems occur. Without “real-time” customer service, buyers are likely to abandon your product or service in favor of clearer and easier options. So how can you manage to offer high quality customer care exactly when your customer wants it?
Be There When & Where a Customer Needs Help
⋅ On Your Website. While a customer is navigating your products, make sure they have the tools to answer questions and solve problems without having to leave your site. Each extra step you ask of a customer is chance for frustration that leads to abandonment, so offer options that make the research and purchasing processes seamless.
⋅ Self-service option: FAQs. Customers often want answers that they can find quickly without having to reach out to customer service. So make sure they have that option with a well-designed FAQ section.
The best design for your FAQ section will depend on your customers and your products. If there is a small set of known frequent concerns, make the answers to those accessible without having to search an FAQ database. If there are many technical questions that recur, prioritize creating a thorough and searchable knowledge center.
Consider integrating FAQs into your product pages, to preempt customer frustration.
The key is offering an easy way to connect a customer with answers that she doesn’t have to wait for.
⋅ Live chat. Allowing your customer to ask questions of customer service should also be an option that doesn’t require the customer to leave your site. Use a chat or messenger integration that is equipped to offer automated responses to simple questions, but make sure that the chat routes easily to a human responder to go beyond the simple issues.
If you plan to offer only automated answers at certain times, make that clear to your customer. Don’t set up the wrong expectation by leading your customer to think that full live support is available when it is not.
⋅ Video chat. According to Comm100’s 2017 Benchmark report, companies using live chat saw utilization of video for service calls triple from 2015 to 2016. Think about adding value to your customer service by offering video, which feels more personal, connected and focused.
⋅ Via Social Media. Customers are more often looking to social media to interact with companies. Make sure that part of your customer service plan is responding to social media messaging and comments within reasonable periods of time.
⋅ SMS. Many buyers will need an option that is mobile and interactive, but will prefer texting to phone calls. Provide support in the form that is most comfortable to your buyer by adding SMS support to your customer care plan.
⋅ Email. Response times are key to email contact inquiries. Ensure that emails are routed quickly and answered consistently.
⋅ Make phone contact easy. Make your contact information clear and easy to navigate to, no matter where the customer is on your website. Offer multiple options, such as signing up for callbacks as well as waiting on hold.
Remember to Integrate Your Data
Avoid customer frustrations by integrated various customer contacts in your system. Each new customer service agent should have access to prior customer touchpoints, whether they are live chat, social media, emails, or phone calls.
Make sure you are offering the same quality and type of service no matter where your customer is reaching out. Be clear with your customer when service will differ; for example, if emails are followed with 24-hour response times while social media response times are 48-hours make that information known.
Make sure that the information you provide across channels is consistent. One strategy to achieve consistency is to centralize all customer service types into a single group, rather than separating online customer support from phone support.
Finally, be aware of the company’s brand across channels and make sure that customer care is offered in a consistent style and voice.