Customers are the most valuable asset for any business. This is why customer service is of the utmost importance.
Research shows that US businesses lose $41 billion annually because of poor customer service. According to this study, 47% of customers will choose a competitor within a day of experiencing poor customer service.
Good customer service shows your customers that the company cares about them. This increases their loyalty and makes them return for more.
Retaining customers costs much less than acquiring new ones. It is also easier to sell to loyal customers. In fact, there is a 60-70% chance to sell to an existing customer, while the probability of selling to a new one is somewhere between 5-20%. Loyal customers not only come back, but they also give you free marketing by word of mouth.
The proliferation of technology and internet has changed the face of customer service. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores where salespeople greet you and handle your queries, the online world is faceless and impersonalized. The lack of human interaction makes customer service in the digital world even more complex.
Here is how the digital world has changed customer service;
1. Millennials want immediate answers
This is the era of the millennials. These are people born between early 1980s and mid-1990s. They rely more on smartphones and instant messaging compared to the Baby Boomers.
Also, unlike the previous generation, millennials shop online more frequently. 67% of millennials prefer to shop online rather than instore as compared to 56% of Gen Xers.
Moreover, millennials and Gen Xers spend 6 hours per week shopping online. The millennials usually use smartphones for shopping. They are usually pressed for time and hence want immediate solutions.
And when they are shopping online, they won’t pick up their phones or draft a long email and wait for someone to get back. They will simply switch to another business. According to Desk.com, 25% of millennials expect a response within 10 minutes of sending a complaint message.
Also, millennials prefer to solve a problem on their own. Rather than contacting the company, 41% of them would check the website or FAQs if they have any query.
80% of the respondents said that resolving issues over the phone was cumbersome and inconvenient. To serve this generation, a company needs to make sure that it replies fast and over the platform that millennials prefer.
2. There are multiple channels
Digitization has opened up a number of channels through which customers can contact a company. These include a company’s website, social media, e-mail and of course the traditional call centre.
KLM, a Dutch airline, leverages its social media in the true sense. It followed its customers on Twitter and surprised them with personalized gifts.
As a result, its Twitter followers increased significantly and the company became an example of best customer service. Handling multichannel customer service can be a tricky job; a company needs to be consistent across channels.
According to Aberdeen Group, companies can retain 89% of their customers if they can manage to provide consistent service quality.
Companies that don’t, are only able to retain 33%. Customers today expect good mobile services. Most people’s experience with mobile is not good because the mobile site is often unresponsive. This makes it difficult to navigate, buy, read content etc.
Social media is another important tool for customer service, which companies tend to ignore. According to a study conducted by JDPower on more than 23,000 online customers, 67% of them said that they had contacted companies on social media for customer support.
A Gartner study also found that companies that ignore customer support messages on social media have a 15% higher churn rate than companies that don’t.
3. You need to be proactive rather than reactive
Unlike the traditional wait-and-see model, customer service today needs to be proactive. In a proactive approach, companies anticipate and solve customers’ problems before they face them.
Customers now expect on-demand customer service; there is nothing new in that. However, proactive service exceeds customers’ expectations and delights them.
This, in turn, increases their loyalty and long-term value. The biggest challenge of proactive marketing is anticipating what customers would need. For this, businesses need to be aware of their customers’ pain points.
This can be done in two ways; by gathering feedback, and keeping track of users’ activity. A company can gather feedback by creating online surveys and sharing them via chat or email.
Also, you need to monitor user activity in real time. One way to do that is through live chat. Live chat allows you to get in touch with your customers right away. You can use tools such as Google Analytics to see how your customers navigate through your website.
Customers have more control
Technology has given more power to customers. Today, they have higher expectations and dictate how they should be treated.
Previously, customers relied more on the company’s reaction when they were confronted with an issue. Today, however, companies have to respond with speed and focus since customers have the power to share their experience across multiple channels.
The example of United Airlines is quite relevant here. The airline broke David Caroll’s guitar after which he published a song ‘United Breaks Guitars.’ The song did quite a lot of damage to the company’s reputation.
Gone are the days when it was enough for companies to launch an exceptional product at an affordable price. Today, companies need to work on both inbound and outbound marketing channels to stand out from the crowd.
It is not sufficient for marketers to just work on marketing campaign strategies, put interesting social media graphics and consider their work done.
Marketers need to make their customers feel special. This can only be achieved through exceptional customer service. Marketers need to ensure that their brand message is consistent across all social media channels and customers experience seamless service no matter which channel they use.
Excellent customer service is the hallmark of a superstar business. Were there instances of bad customer service you faced? Share your stories below!
Evie Harrison is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.