Customer service is important, even in the digital world.
In this digital age where people browse, click, and purchase online, it can often seem like customer service is a thing of the past. Indeed, it’s easy to get the impression that algorithms and automated marketing has replaced the need for actual humans to interface with customers.
But this assumption is erroneous. In fact, thanks to the impersonal nature of the internet and the increasing automation of buying everything from train tickets to toothpaste, customers can often be very eager to talk to a real human every now and then, especially when something goes wrong. Not having a customer service infrastructure set up to deal with situations when the automated process doesn’t work can often prevent customers from working with you again.
Need proof of this? Read any review site like TrustPilot; even in cases where the customer isn’t supposed to need to speak to a real person, they highly resent not being able to. A problem that can be fixed with a quick phone conversation or a live online support option becomes much more irritating to a customer when all they can do is send an email and wait several days for a response. When things go wrong, an immediate and accessible response can be the difference between losing a customer and retaining a satisfied customer who is willing to evangelize on your behalf.
So if you run an e-commerce or online-only store, what should you be doing to ensure your customer service remains up to scratch? Here are some suggestions for the kinds of procedures and infrastructure you should have in place:
Pay attention to your FAQs: If you get the same kinds of questions over and over from customers, it is essential to have a FAQs section where they can easily find answers to their queries without having to contact support. There is no reason this section of your website should not be clearly labeled and updated regularly to reflect your customers’ needs.
Always offer a phone support option: Once a situation escalates beyond the point of mere inconvenience, customers often want to speak to a real live human asap. While it may not be economically feasible to have 24/7 phone support, you can opt to hire an answering service so that no matter what, at least your customer gets to speak to a real human and doesn’t feel neglected.
Be proactive, not reactive: Once they do speak to someone from your company, make sure that representative is empowered to fix the problem and is knowledgeable about the various procedures. There is nothing worse from a customer’s point of view than speaking to customer service support that appears to be incompetent and indifferent to their problem. Also, make sure you honor your warranties and terms, and go out of your way to make the customer feel heard.
Bring your customer service to social: In this digital age, a lot of your customers will turn to social media to answer their question before heading towards a more formalized customer support option. Make sure your social team is empowered to answer these questions and is monitoring your company’s social mentions for customer complaints. The last thing you want is a customer with lots of followers taking out their increasing frustration with your company on social media, so make sure you meet them there and provide the answers they need if they do.
Utilize software for record keeping: Asking your customer to repeatedly explain their problem each and every time they get in touch with a customer support representative is asking too much of them. Use ticketing systems to organize all the correspondence from this particular issue in a single thread. Billing history, past correspondence, the issue at hand—these should all be retrievable immediately upon speaking to a customer.