When you think about customer service technology your view about it is probably quite antiquated.
We’re talking George Washington here folks. Think about hundreds of people sitting in a warehouse, somewhere overseas, working long hours.
They were probably reading from a script, and today their value has depreciated like the dollar bill.
The stereotypes of outsourcing call centers to India and the attitude that accompanies it has gotten businesses nowhere.
Today, we live in the age of social media, where a business’s success increasingly depends on its reputation. This means that bad customer service is a massive, out-of-date no-go.
Instead, new system and service technologies can improve the customer service your client receives. It can also bolster the reputation of the company without costing that much.
So if you’re running a business in McClean, Virginia, and are contemplating how to improve your customer service systems- you’ve come to the right place.
Here are our top tips on the latest technology you should consider adopting.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; we spend our lives on these platforms. So having a solid online following is no longer just an additional perk. It’s something that is instrumental to your business.
The first rule of any social network is ensuring that your project has a human presence. Avoid meaningless corporate-speak which is best left for the boardroom.
Rien down your voice and insights from the internet clouds, and be proud of what your business has to offer.
Talk about insights from behind the scenes, examples of the company at work, and how products are made. Make jokes. Join in with the latest trends and hashtags where possible.
Encourage your employees to tweet as well and make sure they understand the work-related protocol for social media.
Nobody likes being ignored and entering into a dialogue with as many of your customers as possible is valuable. Yes, even if that means responding to criticism.
It means you get an insight into the things that do work and the products or services that don’t.
Unless you have a huge budget to hire an around-the-clock team, it is going to be pretty difficult to respond to every message straight away. Sometimes users like to send messages late at night.
Luckily both Facebook and Twitter allow you to send a personalized auto-message that will inform your customers of your opening and closing times. This message will let them know when they are likely to receive a response to their message. Remember Facebook also tells potential customers the average response time when they click the message button.
Honesty is the best policy. If a customer is upset-apologize. Businesses that are seeming to save-face by trying to cover up their mistakes and those that remain silent on crucial issues often come off much worse.
Avoid neutral language likes ‘mistakes were made’. Instead, offer personal statements signed by the CEO or the company itself.
If a customer complains about one of your products or services and demands a refund, don’t just say you’ll look into it and get back to them. Give your customer a direct email address or phone number or, better still, get theirs and make sure someone contacts them straight away
Whilst the majority of people now do use the internet and social media, there is no point cutting yourself off from customers because you are not on a particular channel.
Think about who your audience is. In McClean, the majority of the population is over 40. These are people who grew up without the internet and who maybe don’t even use it.
Even if you have a small following of older customers who don’t use the internet or who prefer to use other methods of communication be sure to accommodate them.
There’s nothing that some customers like more than being able to communicate on the telephone. They don’t have time to wait for a response from an email or an online chat, they want to get straight through to a real voice.
State clearly when your phone line will be open on your website – usually Monday to Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.
Nobody likes a premium rate phone line, especially one that makes you wait in a queue for thirty minutes. It might be a tempting way to recover the costs of operating a phone line but your customers will soon see through it. Try to offer a free phone or costs of a few cents per minute if you can.
Be sure to offer a callback service if at all possible so your customers don’t have to sit on the phone for hours.
Remember that with VOIP technology you don’t have to run a hefty call center, you can hire remote employees to work from their desktops, laptops or tablets from the comfort of their own home.
One day your business might even be able to adopt an intelligent virtual support agent.
As a company you probably still send letters out in the mail to try draw in customers so why shouldn’t you be open to receiving them as well? Modern technology allows you to have a virtual P.O. Box or a virtual office.
A virtual P.O. box is great if you’re running your company remotely and travel a lot. It means all of your posts – including any letters – are opened for you and scanned directly to your email and you can dictate the response.
A virtual office is a real address that you give out to your customers. This will reassure that their letter is not just going to end up in a huge pile at a P.O. Box- it will go directly to the company.
The post will be picked up by the receptionist at that office and will be passed on to you or scanned over to you.
This kind of business virtualization can save you big money compared to the costs of actually running an office.
Another important thing to remember about customer service systems is accessibility. This is making sure those with any number of disabilities are able to effectively access your customer services.
This can be achieved in a variety of ways. First, you can make your website accessible by using free tools like Hemingway to ensure that the reading age of the text is no higher than a grade 9.
This is the recommended level to ensure your website can be understood by everyone.
Furthermore, you can ensure your website can be read by voice-over technology to assist people who are blind. If there are any videos then be sure to include subtitles for those that are hard of hearing.
Be sure to make sure the size of the font can be changed without disrupting the layout of the page.
If you are operating a live-text chat as part of your customer service make sure your employees have been trained in how to respond in a jargon-free way.
Give them a manual and regular training sessions on best practice for responding to customers and how to handle frustrated or upset customers.
This might sound really obvious but the best way to cater to your customers is not to be constantly apologizing to them. Simply make sure you are building a good quality product or service that they are going to love.
If your product or service is constantly getting negative reviews, it might be time to listen. Are the calls and messages you are receiving from your customer service all saying the same thing? Try responding to the criticism proactively.
Figure out what is going wrong or what additional features your customers are asking for. You can even consider inviting them to workshops where you explain to them what the company is working on next. Give your customers an opportunity to test the waters- this creates trust and authority.
Once you’ve redesigned something or improved a product be proud and give it a shout on social media and in your marketing materials.
You can also ask for reviews online either on Facebook, Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Providing good customer service used to be expensive and challenging. It often involved a call center with large overhead costs unless you chose to outsource to a developing nation.
New customer service technology such as VOIP phone lines, virtual offices, and online chats allow for you to offer the best service without having to spend a fortune.
In the era of social media, and Google reviews where everyone’s opinion counts, a company can rise and fall based on its profile in the media. How you respond to your customer’s concerns is vital.
Good customer service and ensuring you have appealed to customers of all needs is just as important as getting your branding. Make sure your product or service delivers effectively.
If you are interested in our managed IT support program which can help you provide good customer service solutions, be sure to check out our pricing options.