We live in an era defined by personalization and instant gratification. This has made customer service more important than ever. Each interaction with a customer, both before and after the point of sale, doesn’t just decide if they have a positive experience.
It can also influence their reviews and word-of-mouth marketing for a brand — and that stuff really does matter. 90% of customers base their brand loyalty on the quality of the customer service that they experience. If they have a good time, they come back. If they’re offended or unsatisfied, they let everyone know about it.
Of course, customer service isn’t what it used to be. It’s gone from a bank of telephones connecting one human to the next to a smorgasbord of communication channels connecting customers to chatbots, automated responses, and, every once in a while, a human.
If you’re uncertain which customer service channels to invest in, here are a few suggestions to keep up with the expectations of consumers a quarter into the 21st century.
Set Up a Chatbot
We’ve all become used to IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems. Automated menus and pre-recorded responses can help resolve some issues. But often, customer service requires a more nuanced approach.
Chatbots use AI and machine learning to interact with customers in a more complex customer service environment. They can predict questions based on circumstances. They can also adjust recommendations and answers after receiving input from a customer.
Rideshare giant Lyft has made a splash for its use of AI chatbots in its in-app help option. Third-party developers have even taken things further by building chatbots that allow drivers to connect directly to regular riders through channels like Messenger. This allows them to create consistent, high-quality service at customizable rates.
Provide Expert Lifelines
In a world that is quickly becoming 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 only an initial step. In many cases, more complicated support is needed.
When that happens, businesses need to have customer support channels established that give customers access to expert assistance.
For example, HVACDirect.com, an online marketplace for HVAC systems, has a chatbox that appears the moment a visitor arrives on their site. Unlike the chatbots previously mentioned, this chatbox connects users to humans. And not just humans — expert technicians. The same can be said about their established phone and email options. Using experts for a customer support team means a company can answer detailed questions in an informed manner that can calm customer fears, boost buying confidence, and ultimately increase brand loyalty.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is often seen as a fluid and contemporary arm of the marketing department. It focuses on building customer communities and working with influencers.
What many overlook, though, is its power as both a direct and indirect customer service channel.
On the one hand, businesses can use messaging and group forums to field direct questions and concerns from clientele. On the other hand, McKinsey points out that social media can also be a way to follow up on poor customer experiences when the customer vents on a social platform.
A timely, sensitive response can salvage a situation and even serve as a public message that a brand cares about its customers — even the unhappy ones.
Building the Right Customer Service Support Network
Customer service is no longer a single lifeline between businesses and their customers. It’s a complex and nuanced network of channels, each of which serves a different purpose.
Chatbots field initial inquiries. Social channels allow for clean-up and the salvaging of negative experiences. Elite support from human experts provides that professional touch that many customers miss.
When brought together, they can create a synergistic level of support that can address any and every customer need, even in the ever-evolving modern business landscape.