You’ve heard the horror stories: A single customer interaction is mishandled, the customer posts the experience online, and in a matter of hours what was a simple customer service misstep becomes an Internet sensation, costing the unfortunate company in question both its reputation and some serious cash. So what’s to be done?
On a basic level, most customers simply want to be treated fairly. It’s a simple ask, but creating a service solution that meets customer expectations can be tricky—especially when you’re handling service requests from multiple channels at once. In order to help both you and your customers have a better service experience, we’ve worked up a list of six of the most common industry don’ts, along with suggestions on how to avoid them.
1. Don’t treat customers like strangers. By the time they’ve navigated their way through your service channels, customers have already left you a substantial trail of personal data bread crumbs. Make sure your service team has access to everything from customers’ profiles to their purchase histories and the conversations they’ve had with other agents.
Every bit of that data can help your team identify and resolve a customer’s individual needs. When you address their issues in the right context, you’re telling your customers that you’re paying attention.
2. Don’t make customers repeat themselves, especially with basic information. When customers reach out for support, they’re already having a rough day. Don’t add to that strain by making them repeat their account information every time they’re transferred.
Keep your team connected across all of your service channels, so that a customer whose issue was brought up in a chat window doesn’t have to start over again if the conversation moves to another channel, such as phone or email.
3. Don’t restrict how customers can find solutions. If waiting in a phone queue is the only resource your customers have to resolve their issues, you’re going to end up with a lot of hot tempers. Offer customers ways to find their own answers via self-service and social channels, and make sure they have access to a single source of knowledge that is consistent across the different ways they will search for answers, from your Facebook fan page to your website—and even third-party sites such as online communities or inside a game. All of this should be designed to work from any device, computer or kiosk.
4. Don’t stop sharing new knowledge—ever. As your product’s life cycle progresses, the issues your customers bring to your attention can change too. When new topics are brought up, it’s important to address them with care, find a resolution, and then share your new knowledge with the rest of your team, as well as with your customers. New, visible solutions are a great way to demonstrate how hard you’re working for your customers.
5. Don’t assume today’s service solution will be relevant tomorrow. Just as direct mail took a back seat to email, and email to chat, today’s customer service solutions won’t last forever. Use analytics to keep an eye out for which channels are attracting particular customers. Make sure your tools are set up to evolve with the times and to meet changing expectations for response times.
6. Don’t let problems spiral out of control. Online sentiment grows and changes quickly, so make sure you have social engagement technology that keeps you abreast of what’s happening and how people are reacting online. The best time to stop ill feelings from spreading is right at the beginning.
There’s no sure-fire way to make everybody happy all the time, but when your team knows the solutions a customer has already tried, can share and collaborate on each case, and can detect issues as they arise, you’ll be well on your way to better service relationships. For more on the evolving needs of customers and how to engage with them on social channels, check out our e-book, Your Brand Sux.