Customer service can be the difference between customers choosing to return or not. Even if the product you offer is sublime, people will not return to a business that hasn’t provided them with good customer service.
This used to mean simply answering the phone promptly and politely and being helpful when approached in person, but now, thanks to the internet, customer service has reached a new level. Social media and emails have given a sense of urgency to feedback from brands. Users expect their messages to be responded to almost immediately and, with the ability to leave very visible reviews all over the internet, it is important that customers remain happy and receive fast and helpful communication.
Here are four ways brands can improve their customer service offering and ensure they keep their customers happy.
Pay attention to social media
A lot of people, mainly teens and millennials, will now turn to social media to find out more about their favourite brands before even visiting the brand’s website. This includes looking for details such as opening times, reviews and a way to contact the brand in question.
As well as ensuring that your opening times are correct on your website, you need to ensure that your Facebook page is kept up to date. A customer who relies on the social network to find out when you’re open will be angry if they turn up to a business and find it is closed, especially when Facebook is saying it is open. This can cause them to publicly complain to their ‘friends’ on the platform, tarnishing the company’s reputation and potentially losing business. Although it may not seem like a clear cut part of customer service, offering your patrons correct information is a vital part of bettering their experience with your brand.
Networks should also be monitored for questions and mentions: people may tag the company’s page handle (starting with the @ symbol) and direct messages at them this way. It is important that someone within the company is notified every time this happens so any queries can be responded to in a timely manner. It may be worth considering a social media tool such as Hootsuite to help achieve this response. Hootsuite allows up to three social profiles to be added, for each profile you can choose which ‘streams’ are added to your view and, in this case ‘mentions’, should be added. This will provide you with an easy to read list of all the mentions you receive on the chosen social platforms.
People may also send direct messages via Twitter, Facebook and, more recently, Instagram: these cannot be seen by the public and should be treated as an email. Be aware though that the Twitter direct message offering has a character limit meaning it is usually best to ask for your customer’s email address to discuss issues further when dealing with a complaint.
In all cases a lack of response, or an incorrect one, can cause customers to react negatively. This is why it is vital that, if a brand has a social media account, it is kept updated and monitored regularly, ensuring that customers are receiving an efficient service and have access to correct information, after all, not doing so may hurt the bottom line.
Ensure local listings and directories are up to date
People may not necessarily be aware of your brand and it could be discovered by chance when searching for a service or product in search engines. This is when it is vital that your local listings, on Google for example, and directories, are cohesive and updated with the correct information.
If a potential customer searches for a business in their location your listing may appear and, if the information on this listing is wrong, it can taint their perception of your brand. For example, if your email address is wrong then the consumer may believe that their communication to you is being ignored which may deter them from using your company in the future. This also applies to telephone numbers and opening times.
To make sure Google listings are up to date make time every week to manage your pages through Google My Business. If you sort by status it will usually bring to the top of the list those that have errors or need updates.
Monitoring your directory listings can be a little harder, one way to ease this burden is to use Moz Local. Moz Local allows you to enter the postcode of the business, and the name, and Moz will scour the web for directory listings that match. It will then allow you to see any inconsistencies, incomplete listings, duplicates and correct listings, allowing you to make edits where needed.
Although, by this method you are not directly communicating with consumers, providing them with the correct means to contact you is improving customer service.
An unhappy customer is a business’ worst nightmare with reviews no longer being confined to the pages of newspapers, and many specialist online review sites, bad reviews have never been so easy for the public to find.
There are specific websites, such as TripAdvisor, which have been created for purpose of reviews, there are review features on social networks, directories and local listings and people often review products and services on blogs.
When a legitimate negative review is left it is imperative that the review is handled effectively and sensitively. Even if a person has had a terrible experience the wrong can be made right again with good customer service.
Example of bad customer service, no response was given to this complaint.
Monitor reviews, particularly on Facebook and, if a bad review is given, respond to it in a timely manner offering compensation or some sort of solution for the inconvenience experienced. Customers will appreciate that their grievance has been acknowledged. Never shift the blame over to the customer, remember that they are always right, avoid an embarrassing scene to being made which may cause others to think negatively of the brand. Never be rude in responses, or result to using expletives, as this will paint the whole company in a bad light and deter consumers.
Improve your phone offering
Although customer service is predominantly online, there are still a few customers who prefer to make contact using the phone, depending on their generation, or if they need a response immediately. This is why a business’ telephone offering should not be overlooked when improving customer service.
To ensure that a consumer can leave a telephone conversation happy, and confident that the aim of their call was addressed, it is important that the phones are being answered correctly and that the person on the other side is trained for anything the consumer may throw at them. For this reason it is probably best to use specialist business telephone systems as providers of these services offer features such as call recording. This allows you to listen back to conversations for training purposes, enabling staff to learn from mistakes and to perfect their telephone manner when talking to consumers, it also helps to improve employee performance which should enhance customer satisfaction.
These tips will help better your customer service offering today, making sure that any consumer conversation has a positive outcome, after all, the customer is the most important part of any business.