Choosing the right channels for customer service
Increasing customer satisfaction with the right channels for customer service
Bain & Company looked at 362 companies in a study called “Closing the delivery gap“. The study showed that only 30% of the companies that organized their channels for customer service created the right conditions for a great customer experience. Another conclusion of the study was that 80% of the companies thought that they delivered good service while only 8% of the customers agreed. To be able to provide great service and loyal customers it is important to have a strategy for the channels of your customer service.
“The waiting signal echoes loudly from the mobile speaker while you make breakfast and dress your kids. A woman’s tired voice once again repeats “Thank you for waiting, we will take your call soon” and you reflect on how much the tone affects both your perception of the brand and your mood. You cannot find the information you are looking for in the FAQ on the company’s website and there is no other way to contact their customer service. You have been waiting in line for 25 minutes, that is almost an entire episode of Friends, and still have no idea how much longer you will have to wait.”
Ever had a similar experience? There are few things as frustrating as long phone queues when you do not really have time to call but there are no other options for customer service contact.
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Simplicity, accessibility and speed with channels
The currency we all trade with today is time. The companies who win the race for the most satisfied customers are those who understand that their customers save time, energy and money when your customer service prioritizes speed, simplicity and accessibility. On the other hand, according to a study made by Accenture 36% of Swedish customers are willing to pay more for better service.
In the example above, there was only one contact way to customer service, which meant that there was no other choice but to call. Although the easiest thing would probably have been to email them the questions. One option would have been to be able to choose to be called up when it’s your turn. An even more customer-focused solution would have been to also add some employees who monitor Facebook, respond to emails and write a functioning FAQ.
Companies that deliver wow-service have a channel strategy. They have the tools and processes for delivering a wow-service. A customer service software where you have all customer support cases and self-service solutions in one place makes that possible and helps you answer and manage more customers. Easy, accessible and quick.
Wow your customers
The customer service team is the face of the outside world, they can create loyal customers who become the company’s ambassadors. It is through your service that you stand out from your competitors. Because today it is not enough to have a satisfied customer.
Let’s say you have a supermarket across the street that you often buy various items that you forgot to buy in the larger store further away. You come in, find what you need, pay and leave. Your expectations are met but are you a loyal customer who always will choose this supermarket? If a new supermarket opens nearby, you would probably try it and if they have better service, well, then it is not certain that you will return to the first supermarket. A satisfied customer can potentially go to another supplier just to test. Satisfied customers are no longer enough. You need to wow customers to make them come back and become your loyal marketers and ambassadors.
Increased customer satisfaction leads to increased profitability
In a study conducted by Swedish Quality Index in collaboration with, among others, Stockholm School of Economics and Chalmers University of Technology. Did after 30 years of collecting data from thousands of companies in various industries in Sweden, find the conclusion that 1% increased customer satisfaction gives 5% increased profitability. Customer service has a key role here since they often are in contact with dissatisfied customers and those are the customers you can turn into the best ambassadors.
Step into your customers’ shoes
A good way of understanding your customers better is to choose the right channels is to determine your customer journey. The collective events your customers go through before, during and after they become a customer of yours. It can be used as a tool to map all your customer’s experience of you from start to finish from their perspective. It provides insight into what your customers need in different situations, so you can design your customer service accordingly and see which channels are needed.
Add your target group to the customer journey and step into their shoes to get further perspective on how different parts of the target group want service. Think about the situations that can arise in the customer journey, because in certain stressful situations customers want to be able to call you and not get stuck with a chatbot or an email form where no alternative fits the case. Look at your company values and your customer promise to make sure that they match how you choose channels for customer service. These values should determine how you resolve issues and how you communicate.
Let the customer choose service channel
When digital services become more accessible, there is a risk that the distance between the company and the customers grows. And that the customers feel abandoned when problems arise. In recent years, the companies that get the best ratings in surveys conducted by the EPSI Rating Group are those that succeed in combining digitalization with a high degree of personal service. And the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing customer needs. An example is when we recently wanted to change our email address to our website. It is primarily via email that we have our customer contacts. Meaning this could affect how our existing and new customers reach us in the future and whether they will be able to reach us at all.
The company we are a customer of mainly wants us to solve it ourselves via various FAQs with guides on how to proceed to change our address. In this case, we are technically uninterested customers who would have been more reassured if we had been able to call customer service to get step-by-step help to do this. While a more knowledgeable person probably would have been perfectly happy with this solution.
Some of us absolutely love to solve the challenge ourselves or have more knowledge to do so while others want to be able to pick up the phone and call customer service to get help. It depends on what your preferences are but also on the situation. If you want to stand out, you should be easily accessible in several different channels so customers can make their own choice.
Is it enough to be available in a few channels for customer service?
Incredibly important for the customer experience is HOW you treat the customer, regardless of which channel the customer chooses. You need a common tone and a common way of communicating in all channels and different types of cases require different mandates, treatment and competence.
If customers receive reactive service without a focus on a solution, it is irrelevant how many channels you are available in and how easy it is to get in touch with you. The human factor is what binds it all together. Employees who are professional in meeting customers in different channels are the key to excellent customer service. They are the ones who can really show that you understand the customers’ needs and can leave a positive impression of your brand.
A customer who contacts you has received or seen an offer and have expectations that you need to live up to and you can do this through these tools:
- The channels you choose to be in.
- What treatment the customer experiences in each unique contact with you.
- The knowledge you possess.
- Processes and routines that exist.
- All of the above will affect how customers experience your level of service, how well you match their expectations and how much you stand out from your competitors.
Avoid common channel mistakes
You create the feeling and image of the brand already in the channel choices you make. Do you need service around the clock? Do you want to provide personal service? Should it be quick to get service? This continues in the IVR, in your email auto-reply or by answering or not answering in social media. Tone and word choice in the IVR or in the auto-reply affect how the customer perceives the brand. Once the customer service employee gets to communicate with the customer, a bad IVR tone may have already triggered and irritated the person calling.
The importance of simplicity and solution focus
Always focus on the present, the future and the solution. If you do this in all channels without getting entangled in explanations or focusing on what can not be done, the customers will be more satisfied and you will usually avoid misunderstandings. In many cases, it can be good to offer the customer some options for solutions, at least two, so the customer gets a feeling of being part of the decision-making.
- In an IVR, it can be as simple as giving the customer information about how long it is estimated to take before the call is answered. A good idea is to offer the customer the choice of waiting or being called back.
Why is all this so important?
Simply put it has to do with how our brain works. What we usually unconsciously look for in a first impression, in a meeting, text message, email or conversation, is empathy and kindness so that we can feel safe. This is because part of our brain, which we have had for millions of years, exists to protect us and seeks security. If we sense anything similar to uncertainty or danger this part of the brain responds faster than any other part. You can avoid triggering this by having a confident tone, body language and facial expression that matches what you want to communicate and also by taking ownership.
Your goal now is to find the right balance between personal service and automated service and to find the right channels for your customers and their needs. Few things are as annoying as long waiting times when you need to get in touch with customer service, so make sure that the customer can get in touch with you quickly and that there is more than one alternative for the customer to do so. Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, then choose the channels where you need to be to give your customers the best possible customer experience!
To increase customer satisfaction, download this guide and learn about how to make the right channel choices.
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