We live in an age defined by personalization and instant gratification. This has made customer service more important than ever. Every interaction with a customer, both before and after the point of sale, doesn’t just decide whether they have a positive experience.
It can also affect their reviews and word-of-mouth marketing for a brand — and that really matters. 90% of customers base their brand loyalty on the quality of customer service they experience. If they have a good time, they come back. If they are offended or unhappy, they let everyone know about it.
Of course, customer service isn’t what it used to be. It has gone from a phone bank that connects one human to the next to a multitude of communication channels that connect customers with chatbots, automated responses and, every now and then, a human.
If you’re not sure which customer service channels to invest in, here are some suggestions for keeping up with consumer expectations a quarter into the 21st century.
Set up a Chatbot
We are all used to IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems. Automated menus and pre-recorded responses can help solve some problems. But often, customer service requires a more nuanced approach.
Chatbots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to interact with customers in a more complex customer service environment. They can anticipate questions based on the circumstances. They can also tailor recommendations and responses after receiving input from a customer.
Rideshare giant Lyft has made headlines for using AI chatbots in its in-app assistance option. Third-party developers have taken things even further by creating chatbots that allow drivers to connect directly with regular riders through channels like Messenger. This allows them to create consistent, high-quality services at customizable prices.
Provide Expert Lifelines
In a world quickly dominated by automated responses and lifeless interactions, it’s important to consider where the human touch is still needed. Chatbots and pre-recorded messages are just a first step. In many cases, more complex support is required.
When this happens, businesses need to have customer support channels in place that give customers access to expert help.
For example, HVACDirect.com, an online marketplace for HVAC systems, has a chat box that appears the moment a visitor arrives at their website. Unlike the chatbots mentioned earlier, this chat framework connects users with humans. And not just people – expert technicians. The same can be said for the established phone and email options. Using experts for a customer support team means a company can answer detailed questions in an informed way that can allay customer fears, boost purchasing confidence and ultimately increase brand loyalty.
Use social media
Social media is often seen as a fluid and modern arm of the marketing department. It focuses on building customer communities and working with influencers.
What many overlook, however, is its power as a direct and indirect customer service channel.
On the one hand, businesses can use messaging forums and groups to field direct questions and concerns from customers. On the other hand, McKinsey points out that social media can also be a way to track bad customer experiences when the customer goes out on a social platform.
A timely, responsive response can save a situation and even serve as a public message that a brand cares about its customers — even the disgruntled ones.
Building the Right Customer Service Support Network
Customer service is no longer a one-stop shop between businesses and their customers. It is a complex and complex network of channels, each serving a different purpose.
Chatbots initially ask questions. Social channels allow negative experiences to be purged and salvaged. Elite human expert support provides that professional touch that many customers lack.
When they come together, they can create a synergistic level of support that can meet every customer need, even in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.