Your friend asks you a silly question, say, something like “How many elephants would you need to put on one end of a seesaw to balance a blue whale on the other side?” First you think it’s a joke, but they insist they want an answer. If you, like us, are no authority on elephants or blue whales, you will suggest they take their question to Google (which would tell your friend that approximately 30 elephants should do it). But when it comes to questions directed at your business, that method does not suffice.
No matter how solid and self-explanatory you think your product/service may be, someone will always have a question, and you–or your customer service team, anyway–must be able to answer it. Failing to answer, or redirecting their question to Google or some other source, would break your customer’s trust. With many businesses going digital, that trust has become essential to staying competitive and earning conversions. So how can digital businesses succeed at customer service and maintain friendly relationships with their audience? By avoiding the following seven deadly sins:
1. Not Giving a FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions pages are basically a standard practice at this point, but they should not be disregarded. When your customers run into an issue, the first thing they do is turn to your website to try to figure a solution out for themselves. Providing them with the right tools via FAQ page saves time not only for them, but for your team.
Take the time to list out any questions your team has gotten in the past, any trouble spots, and how your team arrived at the solution. For each question, clearly describe the solution through bullet-point instructions or detailed answers. Adding a video tutorial, or accompanying images could be a huge help.
Remember that a FAQ page is also just another great way to solidify your brand’s voice and image, so keep those details in mind when planning the content for the page.
A major pain point for customers is not being able to find you outside of your website. In times when, say, your servers are experiencing issues or there’s some other malfunction preventing your customers from easily using your site’s tools to contact you, those clients want to know that they will be able to receive multichannel support.
Having a diverse presence online via different social media platforms is not only a way to remain top-of-mind to your audience over your competition, but it is also expected of you by your customers. In fact, according to Desk, “46% of online customers expect brands to provide customer service on Facebook.” Companies across the board have come to accept this challenge, communicating with their customers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This kind of online assistance has become the norm.
For instance, say what you want about Walmart, but they’ve exhibited some remarkable patience when it comes to customer assistance on social media:
3. Being the Void
So maybe you’ve provided an FAQ page, and maybe you’ve even created social media accounts, but it all falls apart if you’re leaving your customers feeling like they’re shouting into the void. The great thing about being online is that it opens your company up to conversations with potential clients–so engage them. Show them you care about their opinions by providing customer feedback forms. These forms will not only help cultivate engagement but also help you learn more about your business.
And those social media profiles? Make sure to keep them active, and to respond quickly and effectively to social media conversations about you. Being proactive about these conversations helps nip potential problems in the bud, helps put you in control of social messages about your brand, and creates amicable relationships.
4. Stilted Conversations
Repetition might be a great method of studying for an exam, but it’s not advisable when it comes to customer interactions. Forcing your customers to answer the same questions, and repeat their situation over and over again as they speak to different members of your customer service team will only lead to frustration for everyone involved. It slows down the help process, and keeps both your customers and agents from moving on to the next task.
Make sure you track your customer’s interactions, especially if you follow our advice and use multiple channels of communication. There are multiple tools out there to track customer communication, and we happen to be fans of Intercom.
5. Putting Them on Hold…Forever
Nobody likes to be kept waiting, least of all your customers. You may even have less leeway time than you think, as only “53% of customers […] reported they would likely do business with a company if they had to wait for longer than a minute” (source). That’s a steep drop from the 84% who said they would be likely or very likely to do business with a company that made them wait less than a minute.
6. No Instant Messaging
Chatbot are all the rage, just ask our SashaBot.
Chatbots are a great solution for the ever-rising demand by customers of constant availability from businesses. As they grow more intelligent through AI-powered messaging system, they become more and more capable of personalizing their responses to clients, and addressing their issues instantaneously.
Chatbots, especially intelligent chatbots, can be a challenge to build, but not to worry. For those who don’t necessarily want to go the third-party route, there are services such as Pandorabots which help you build a chatbot and understand how it works.
That quickness and efficiency when instant messaging a bot is something no social media responses, emails or phone calls can provide.
7. Giving the Cold Shoulder
Finally, there is an element of customer service that will always be important no matter the platform: attitude. A cold, unfriendly voice at the other end of the line, or a short, snappy email, or even a dismissive reply on Facebook from one of your customer service agents could really damage your brand’s image and make potential clients weary of doing business with you. The bright side to customer service in the digital age is that “service with a smile” is not really a necessity–unless you’re video conferencing. But conveying that smile through a helpful attitude goes a long way towards customer retention.
Have any more customer service sins to add? Have you had a particularly bad customer service experience? Share with us in the comments section, and be sure to keep following our blog for more helpful digital marketing advice.