Online Customer Service – Can It Work?
Increasingly customers are expecting more for less. When products and prices are often very similar between competitors, then customer experience is one way to gain competitive advantage. Customer service should be about answering the questions that are keeping your customers from using your products/services, not just complaint handling. Customers want answers quickly, and evidence suggests that customers highly value status-updates, reminders and other information that they would otherwise have to seek-out for themselves. To meet this demand, some businesses have started to host live online chats with their customers.
According to a survey by Econsultancy, email is the preferred contact channel for 44% of consumers, yet only 33% find it to be the most effective. From automated replies that don’t actually answer your query to slow response rates, customer service via email can sometimes be frustrating. Email customer service is often poor and there is a risk of misinterpretation since it is difficult to demonstrate emotion through this channel. This is not to say it shouldn’t be used as it does have great advantages (and it is the most preferred), but many aren’t utilising email properly. When using email for customer service it is wise to let the customer know you have received their email, set customer expectations by indicating a timeframe for reply (remember to adhere to it) and give a personalised response that answers the question.
More and more consumers are expecting companies to respond to customer service inquiries via social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, but this isn’t always done well. Twitter and Facebook weren't designed with customer service in mind. Because of this, implementing customer service on these platforms requires some effort. Although using social media for customer service is still in its infancy, it offers a great opportunity for brands to show that they listen and are willing to engage through social channels. If used correctly, it has the potential for customers to become brand advocates, recommending a company to other people on the basis of their great experiences.
Multi-channel customer service
Opening additional lines of communication with your audience is useful as one particular channel may not suit all. Far too often, people become frustrated with companies due to a lack of communication channels. This isn’t to say you have to be active across all communication channels - just multiple channels. Pick which ones work best for you!
Multi-channel customer service aims to provide customers who have a query or complaint a choice for how they would like to communicate with a brand. It is also about providing a seamless experience to the customer, regardless of which channel someone may choose to use. This would allow a customer to phone a call centre where the customer services representative is aware of previous conversations that took place via email for instance.
Consumers want the ability to choose how they contact a company. Many firms have implemented alternative support channels such as live chat, email, IVR and web self-service. However, few offer a seamless approach by integrating these channels so that consumers can freely switch from one channel to another without loss of context.
How else can customer service be improved?
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