Customer service is a crucial differentiator for any business in the current times. Its importance extends beyond product and pricing factors because most organisations are comparable on these fronts.
Everything boils down to matching customer expectations with the right approach. This is, of course, easier said than done. Even a single bad experience means you can lose them for good. As per reports, 48% of customers stop doing business with a company after a bad experience.
To provide top-notch customer service, you need to pick the most effective communication channels. These channels bridge the gap between you and your customer, so you need to utilise them effectively. While focusing on the right one helps, it is also vital to optimise your communications across all of them for a holistic, well-tuned experience.
Thus, it makes sense to take a granular approach towards optimising customer services.
You need to start by identifying the top channels available today. Further, you will have to pick the most effective channels and evaluate them regularly to ensure efficiency and quality of customer services.
Let us explain the entire process in detail.
Understanding the top customer service channels for businesses
Customer interactions have not only transformed but also increased over the past few years. Phone calls and face-to-face conversations have been replaced by text messaging and emails. It is harder to identify a starting point.
Additionally, customers’ expectations of an omnichannel customer support experience make the choice even more challenging. They want instant gratification on platforms of their choice and convenience.
Here is a list of the most popular forms of multiple channel communication for businesses in 2021.
- Phone calls continue to be popular because they offer ample opportunities for callers to ask questions and resolve their queries.
- Emails are here to stay since they enable customers to get back to previous messages, send across documents, and communicate effortlessly. The mode also works for business reps as they don’t have to be constantly available.
- Text messages are also old-fashioned, but they’ve retained their value owing to their ease of use and accessibility. They are great for people who aren’t tech-savvy and do not have access to high-end devices.
- Live Chat is a modern means of communication that connects the customer with a live agent or even a chatbot available for interactions. The human or virtual assistant offers customers a conversational interface.
- Video Chat lets consumers connect with agents through video interactions, making them more life-like. They can even share screens and get demos for issue resolution.
- Self-service channels let people interact with businesses through self–service tools such as IVRs and FAQs rather than connect and converse with a representative. The mode offers sheer convenience as they can resolve issues on their own.
- Social media is another channel witnessing immense popularity in the current times. Buyers can connect and raise concerns directly through social media accounts and get instant resolution.
- Reviews and forums make an unconventional channel for buyers to interact with businesses. They can post reviews and ask questions on community forums and interact with the brand and consumer community.
With so many popular customer service channels, nailing the right mix can get a tad overwhelming for organisations. But a good understanding of the right approach can set you up for success.
Picking the most effective customer service channels
When you devise a mix, you must remember that not all channels are created equal. Moreover, you cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Here are some factors that can help you decide what works for your business.
Customer expectations and preferences: A customer service channel should allow meaningful communication with consumers. Unless it does so, there isn’t any logic in exploring it. Start by building a buyer persona that highlights their expectations and preferences. It is enough to pinpoint channels most convenient for them and determine the ones they are likely to use in urgency.
Capabilities of your team: Customer service is all about the quality of interactions you deliver, so you must choose the correct channels according to your abilities. If you can’t handle a platform, people are likely to be unhappy, damaging your relationships and the reputation of the business in the long haul.
Audit the capabilities of your team when you choose service channels. Ensure that you have experienced professionals on board and empower them with the right tools and relevant information.
Industry best practices: Apart from individual factors such as customer expectations and business capabilities, you must also consider industry best practices while choosing customer service channels.
The field is dynamic, so you must be ready to evolve. Matching the current industry standards, trends, and preferences is equally essential to achieve customer satisfaction with your interactions.
Evaluating the mix to stay on top of customer service
Now that you’ve chosen your channels, you will have to ensure regular evaluation to be able to stay ahead of customer expectations. Continuous assessment will help you keep track of changing demands and behaviours and adapt accordingly.
Further, you get an in-depth insight into the efficacy of the current mix, and design improvement strategies accordingly.
Here are some measures that can help you with a comprehensive evaluation:
Review the current position: Closely review existing channels. Find facts such as objective fulfilment, metrics gauging customer reach and engagement, and the interplay of different platforms. If you aren’t happy with the current mix, you need to look for better options.
Assess the customer service quality: Dig deeper into the quality of service delivered by each agent, including details such as average handling time, first call resolution, and how your reps deal with irate customers. Investing in a CRM system is an excellent way to examine the quality of agent-customer interactions.
Analyse customer feedback: Perhaps the most critical aspect of improving the support experience is gathering and analysing customer feedback. If you get good feedback, you can carry on with your current strategies. But you may have to rethink your customer service delivery processes if feedback is negative.
Cutting the long story short, optimising customer service is a challenging job. It goes beyond refining interactions with people as you have to think on a broader level.
You need to create a comprehensive strategy that delivers excellence across all the customer service channels you’ve chosen. Moreover, you cannot take a set-and-forget approach to these platforms. Follow up and fine-tune continuously to stay one step ahead of customer interactions. Once you get into the groove of these practices, you’re set for success.