Tuesday, August 9th, 2016 | 8 min read
You might have the best products or the lowest prices—but it doesn’t mean much for your bottom line if you’re delivering subpar customer service. After all, retaining a customer is more profitable than converting a lead; and if you lose that loyal customer, it can cost you. A recent report by Accenture found that in the U.S. alone, more than 50% of consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service. The result? An estimated loss of $1.6 trillion.
And hey, maybe you’re one of the companies that’s knocking it out of the park when it comes to customer care. But there’s a good chance your customers aren’t as satisfied as you perceive them to be. 60% of consumers have higher expectations for customer service now than they did just one year ago. Customers are connected and empowered like never before, and they expect companies to meet them on their terms.
So what do customers want when it comes to customer care? They want an experience that’s both excellent and efficient, and they’re willing to pay more for it. According to the same Accenture report, almost half of customers surveyed said they’d spend more on a company’s products and services if it meant they would receive a higher level of customer service.
Companies that don’t deliver fast, quality service or ignore opportunities for improving the customer experience could end up losing their customers’ business.
But is it feasible for companies to provide quick responses and resolutions without compromising on quality? Most organizations would say no—you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. But focusing on one part of the solution won’t do you any good in the long run.
Take call centers, for example: businesses tend to cut costs by outsourcing labor and increasing the amount of customer service issues they can handle. While this approach may boost your bottom line, it makes for a much worse customer experience.
The truth is that you can do both. Here’s how to balance cost, quality, and efficiency in customer care.
Brands today have countless ways to engage with their customers and understand who they are and what they need. However, recent research shows that only 30% of businesses have a formal strategy in place to create a single view of all customer interaction data across the enterprise.
When customer service reps aren’t able to see every interaction that a customer has had with their company, they will not be able to deliver a quick and seamless experience. This is one of the top reasons customers are unhappy with current customer care practices. If you’ve ever had to contact a company multiple times, be transferred to various customer reps or departments, or repeat your issue more than once, you can understand why customers end up frustrated.
The way for brands to solve this common problem is to standardize data across their business. By integrating data from different touch points, channels, and databases, brands can generate a holistic view of customer data. This allows brands to understand their customers’ needs right away and deliver better customer service even faster.
Brands must also be prepared to respond to customers through all of the channels that they use. When a customer reaches out to your brand on Twitter, they may not realize that they’re speaking to a social media manager on the digital marketing team in the corporate marketing department within the North American division.
None of that matters to a customer.
What does matter is that you reply through the same channel that the customer used. And the faster you respond, the more satisfied your customers will be. According to Twitter research, 60% of consumers expect brands to respond within 1-2 hours.
While this may seem difficult for large brands with multiple channels and many customers, it is doable. It’s all about using technology to enhance customer care. For starters, you can consolidate and manage your channels from one platform. You can also use this same platform to automate your current workflows and keep your social media manager connected to your customer care team.
73% of customers say that the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service is to value their time. This may be one reason why self-service is on the rise. When customer reps have to deal with the same types of questions day in and day out—or when customers have to repeat information and wait for resolutions—it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
You can solve this problem by producing content that proactively answers common questions and anticipates issues that your audience might have. What’s more, you can create a forum that facilitates a community-based approach to customer care. This may reduce the amount of calls your company receives, allow your representatives to dedicate more time to customers with more complex issues, and position your company to go the extra mile to improve customer satisfaction and ensure long-term loyalty.
If you’re unsure about what to create, this is where customer data, user-generated content, and social listening can come in handy. By understanding your customers’ needs, you can create content that serves their best interests. Just make sure it’s easy for your customers to find—put it on your website, create an email campaign about it, and post about it on social.
Showing customers that your brand is addressing issues quickly—or ahead of time—will also instill a sense of trust and confidence in your brand. Unresolved issues, especially on social platforms, can attract the attention of other consumers and escalate quickly. When customers reach out to you on a platform that’s visible to anyone, it’s best to nip it in the bud and don’t let the conversation on social get any louder.
If you look at all three of these solutions, you’ll notice a common theme: all of them involve knowing the customer better. The good news is that all of the channels you use to engage customers can also be used to capture valuable customer data. You can use this data to get insight into how customers interact with your brand, what they’re looking for, and what they need help with—all in the name of providing a better customer experience. Knowing which channels your customer prefers to communicate on means you can deliver a more efficient and seamless experience. And if you know what a customer’s issue is in advance, you’ll be able to resolve it before they even ask for your help.
By using customer care metrics, customer service channels, and proactive content more effectively, you can improve the customer experience to reduce churn and increase retention. Such an approach will make for happier customers and, most important, a stronger bottom line.