Customer Service: 5 Ways To Go From Good to Great
You never used to want your customers talking about customer service. That’s because it was usually a result of a terrible sequence of events that ultimately shaped the perception of your entire organization. Today, companies that offer exceptional customer service are revered, and more importantly, are the talk of the industry. The customer experience has evolved from a transactional experience to a relational one - meaning every interaction is an opportunity to build your brand and develop long-term customer relationships.
So how do you take your customer service to the next level? We’ve identified the 5 pillars to take your customer service from good to great.
1. Omnichannel: Using The Right Channels
Consumer behavior is constantly evolving in today’s digital world. With the proliferation of smartphones, customers are interacting with companies through multiple channels - social media, email, voice, chat, SMS, and video. Customer want to be able to begin a conversation in one channel and seamlessly switch to another. Those channels are constantly changing - web chat increased 34% last year and 42% of all interactions now occur digitally (1).
Omnichannel is no longer an option. It’s not your choice - it’s your customers’...and they are asking for it. 75% of customers expect omnichannel capability (2). Even if they aren’t calling it omnichannel, customers are asking for it through their frustration every time they start from scratch with an agent over the same issue. And customers are showing it with their wallets every time they abandon an order because real-time help wasn’t readily available.
The companies that are getting omnichannel right are reaping all the benefits. Companies with a robust omnichannel program see 25% greater annual revenue growth and a staggering 55% greater decrease in the number of customer complaints (3). Have you ever evaluated your competitors’ strategy? Doing so can easily highlight where you are coming up short or where you have an opportunity to outperform. Does your competition offer after-hours and weekend support? Get ahead of them easily. It’s no mistake that Uber and Lyft’s customer support are nearly identical, with both companies constantly trying to one-up each other. Remember that instant $5 reimbursement for a wrongly canceled ride? Once Uber implemented that, Lyft rushed to develop it as well. With fierce competition and low switching costs, customer support is one of the last frontiers to differentiate your business.
Setting up an omnichannel customer service function is difficult, especially for small and mid-size businesses. It requires investing in the right solution, and more importantly the right team, which takes time to implement, train and deploy. So where should you start? Start with finding the right technology solutions for your business.
2. The Tech: Finding the Right Customer Engagement Software
Finding the right customer engagement software for your business allows you to seamlessly blend all the customer communication channels into one. These softwares allow you to store records of calls, emails, web interactions, social media comments, and all other relevant data into a single system so that customer concerns are addressed quickly and consistently. Blending your originally fragmented customer data and merging it into one location allows you to make consistent routing rules, unified reporting, and real-time visibility into omnichannel performance. In other words, it allows you to communicate with your customers frictionlessly and get valuable insights on their experience with your brand.
There are more and more customer engagement solutions popping up every day, so finding the right one for you business can be tricky. Most solutions are cloud-based and work across the omnichannel spectrum, integrate with all the major CRM’s, and provide valuable reporting insights and analytics to help you make better decisions to improve your customer experience. To help you make the right choice, we’ve identified some of the leaders in the space that we’ve had the most success working with.
Customer Engagement Solutions
Kustomer: Kustomer assigns “health scores” to each customer, providing you insights on each customer’s happiness.
Zendesk: Great for large ticket volumes and omnichannel interactions.
Freshdesk: A direct competitor with Zendesk, Freshdesk offers similar omnichannel support.
Talkdesk: Voice-heavy customer interactions and provides valuable quantitative metrics on each conversation.
Each of these softwares should be evaluated to see which fits your needs and provides the best bang-for-your-buck. Check out a full comparison of each software here.
AI & Chatbots
Companies like Drift, Intercom, and 100comm offer AI solutions that allow you to incorporate chatbots into your customer communications. Warning: This needs to be done with extreme care - many companies that have tried to adopt this technology without evaluating the value to the customer have had their customer satisfaction score plummet. If the bot is not robust enough to handle the customer’s inquiry, it is crucial to have a live agent ready to step-in. To provide excellent customer service, all chatbot softwares need to be paired with a live agent. It’s not a question of whether the bot can theoretically handle a particular interaction, the question is if it can handle the interaction in a way that creates actual value for the customer. Bringing a customer to a dead-end is unacceptable in the era of omnichannel engagement.
3. Actionable Insights: Learning From Your Customers
Every customer interaction provides valuable data on how to improve your business. Now that you’ve got the right customer engagement softwares, you have access to thousands of reports and items to track. But are you tracking the right KPIs that actually provide insights into a great customer experience? We’ve identified the top KPIs that actually lead to actionable insights to take your business to the next level. Five basic KPIs will produce 80% of what you need to know.
First Contact Resolution (FCR): your ability to resolve customer problems, questions or needs the first time they call, with no follow-up required.
Customer Satisfaction: incorporates multiple KPIs into one score that provides meaningful insights to how happy a customer is with you.
Cost per Contact: measures how much each contact costs per agent. This KPI provides you insight to how effectively resources are allocated.
Agent Utilization: measures and monitors the total percentage of the day that agents are working on a task.
Balanced Score: a combination of production, customer experience, quality, and cost, this KPI ensures that each KPI is being balanced with the others.
4. Social Media Engagement: Are You Responding?
While social media was covered in the omnichannel section, it deserves its own section because of how poorly so many companies manage it. Most companies think setting up a robust Facebook page, along with an active Twitter and Instagram account is enough. 88% of retailers have a social media presence...it’s not a differentiator (5). They post pictures of their products, relevant industry articles, and new developments. But what separates that from great customer service is actually engaging directly with consumers on the platform.
Social media is no longer just for promoting your brand and new products. It’s for customer service...in the public eye. Over the last two years, there has been a 2.5X increase in tweets to brands to their customer service handles (5). Even more, 52% of customers have used social media to ask customer service questions (6). Yet, 45% of retailers are ignoring customer inquiries on Twitter because they don’t have the resources to manage it (7).
Everyone loves getting an unanticipated response on Instagram...and when it’s a new brand you’ve recently tried, the response builds a different type of connection. If you aren’t responding to customers on all your social media platforms, you are missing out on huge opportunities to build brand loyalty. Customer advocacy increases 20% when answering customer complaints via social media, compared to just 10% for phone and 8% via email (8).
66% of customers expect a social media response within 24 hours (9). The more prominent your social media exposure is, the more crucial it is that you develop a plan for tackling customer service via social media. Every social media comment is either an opportunity to outperform or a billboard of your poor customer service for everyone to see. Great customer service means getting social media right.
5. The Team: Hiring The Right Employees
The Team, The Team, The Team. Nothing we have discussed previously matters without having the right customer service team. The team binds the previous 4 pillars together and is what truly makes your customer service exceptional. Not only is getting the right team the most critical part, it’s also the most challenging. Customer service has one of the highest turnover rates of any role at a company, with some companies suffering from over 90% yearly attrition. It’s a stressful job that usually is used as a stepping stone to a more favorable role at another company. As a result, businesses spend an incredible amount of time recruiting, rehiring, and retraining customer service reps...all for them to leave in 12 months. We call this the RRR cycle, which leads to unnecessary costs and poor allocation of time. Rapidly growing businesses face this issue the most. That’s one of the main reasons customer service is the first thing to dissipate as a business experiences rapid growth.
While it is difficult to counteract the RRR cycle, it’s important to have a robust customer service playbook that outlines: the company voice, FAQ, level escalations, systems overview, policies and procedures, and specific brand knowledge. It takes a lot of investment and expertise to develop a system and playbook to ensure you have the right support team working for you. But it’s what makes the difference between going from good to great.
Based in New York City, Horatio is a leading provider of customer experience and support outsourcing services. At Horatio, we like to say “do what you do best, and hire Horatio to do the rest.” Horatio partners with high-growth and innovative companies to develop their customer support strategy and provides a handpicked team to execute it. Horatio’s number one focus is on providing world-class quality customer support that speaks your brand. Our team is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and expertise to ensure a great customer experience every time.
2016 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report
2016 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.
Contact Center and Customer Experience Process Trends in 2017, Aberdeen Group, 2017
CX Social, Top 10 Social Customer Service Stats of 2016. Are you Guilty??
Convince & Convert, Five Reasons Social Customer Service Is Now a Critical Social Component, 2016
Microsoft, 2015 Global Customer Service Report