Customer support is at the heart of a company's success.
Today, having a great product is only half the battle as hundreds of competitors have something similar to offer. The key to standing out is communicating with customers and convincing them to interact with your brand continuously.
Email, social media, webchat, or the traditional SMS and phone calls—companies are using all available means to best support their customers. They’re placing a great deal of value on giving customers a great experience. In fact,
89% of brands are now competing primarily based on customer experience (CX), and 46% are considering investing in customer support as their #1 priority in the next five years.
In this article, we talk about customer support as a driver of business growth and discuss ways to create a seamless customer experience.
First, let’s understand what makes customer support important.
Why is Customer Support Necessary?
No matter what industry you're in, good customer support matters to your business. After all, it has a direct impact on your bottom line.
- It increases revenue for your business
- It attracts and retains customers
- It adds value to product/services
- It creates excellent word of mouth
- It improves brand’s reputation, online and offline
The math is simple: when your customers have good experiences, they’re likely to give positive references and reviews, which will create a positive brand reputation and bring more customers and profitability for your business.
So, if your business is a part of today’s customer-centric industry, now’s the right time to focus and figure out ways to add value to your customer experiences.
That brings us to the question of the hour: What are the best ways to improve customer service?
How to Streamline & Improve Your Customer Service?
Did you know that 8 in 10 customers are ready to pay up to 16% more for better customer experiences?
Let’s get into some trusted ways in which businesses can streamline their customer support and use it as a competitive advantage.
1. Have a 360-Degree View of Customers
The first step towards giving good service and experience is knowing your customers.
As a support agent, you spend almost your entire day responding and troubleshooting customer requests. Having a comprehensive view of customers helps ensure that you provide an appropriate and on-time response to all.
The term ‘360-degree customer view’ refers to having a centralized collection of all the customer data. Personal details, contacts, previous requests, or product preferences, a 360-degree view includes any information needed to add value to a customer’s experience.
So, for example, when a customer reaches out with a service request, the assigned support agent looks up details of the customer’s past purchases and all previous service-related interactions. With all the information available in one place, it will be a lot easier and faster for the support agent to provide context to the customer’s query and deliver a more personalized/relevant support experience.
2. Use Live Chat & Chatbots on Your Website
When asked about their preferred support channel, most customers vote for chatbot and live chat over email/phone support.
The reason is simple—they’re instant and convenient.
If your objective is to provide good customer experiences, adding live chat and chatbots on your website should be a top priority. Thanks to live chat and chatbots, your customers have the comfort to reach out for support at the exact moment that they have questions, which adds value to their experience in many ways.
With live chat and chatbots, customers can also share screens and send screenshots. They can even connect with support agents over a video call. And, honestly, all of these options feel much better than having customer requests sent to the support team over email and manually sending responses to each request.
3. Maintain a Good Knowledge Base
Data shows that customers often attempt to get answers on their own before they admit to asking for help. 80% of customers admit that they’d prefer a self-service portal over human contact if it helps them find solutions to their problems.
It’s promising that customers are willing to take care of matters themselves, but it doesn’t work without the support team’s input. Unless you already have a well-written knowledge base in place.
A knowledge base is a self-serve library of all information related to a company’s product or services. User manuals, how-to guides, FAQs, video demonstrations, case studies, or blogs, a knowledge base can include different types of content.
In the presence of an adequate knowledge base, a customer spends less time and effort to find solutions to their problems. They know what they’re looking for and find the necessary information in a way they can best absorb. It's part of the content experience package.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can transform your knowledge base into conversation and offer customers a help center bot instead.
4. Leverage Social Media for Customer Support
The idea of turning social into service channels is inspired by the need to 'be exactly where your customers are'.
Unlike most service channels, social media provides a direct, real-time mode of communication between buyers and businesses.
Whether there is an issue with your product or a question regarding its implementation, customers can get your attention by tagging you on networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You probably use social platforms yourself to reach out to a brand or business of your choice. This itself proves the importance of social customer care.
Being there on social media as a brand is not just limited to addressing the concerns of your existing customers. You can also use a strong social presence to reach out to new communities and customers. If nothing else, you can uncover trends and explore new opportunities to improve your product or service.
5. Incentivize Customers
Customer loyalty is essential to business growth.
Fortunately, online incentives and gamified customer experience are proven ways to bring new buyers and retain existing customers.
A classic example here would be having a reward system where customers can earn credit for purchasing your products and redeem them for future purchases. However, if you’re looking for something more creative and rewarding, look into McDonald’s Monopoly game.
McDonald’s Monopoly game is a sales promotion activity started over 30 years ago. Throughout this campaign, prizes and rewards worth $40 million have been given away. Another interesting fact - every time McDonald’s Monopoly game runs, it spikes McDonald’s sales by up to 6%.
It’s exciting to see how making user experience fun can increase engagement and direct sales together. And it’s certainly something worth trying.
6. Use Automation Software to Improve CRM
Sure, CRM tools make it easier for your sales and support teams to manage their day-to-day activities. However, there are tasks like data entry, contact updates, lead updates, calendar management, etc, that are taking more time and effort of your team than expected.
That is where automation helps.
Automation of the CRM can free up time (15-20 hours per week) from redundant prospecting and data management activities, making it easier for teams to focus more on meaningful interactions and strategic tasks.
For any support team, manually creating and updating tickets in the CRM system is one of the most redundant tasks for all.
However, with automation software, support teams can integrate their CRM system with other applications and move customer data between the apps without copy-pasting even a single word. They can integrate Google Forms and Salesforce to auto-create tickets in Salesforce on new customer responses in Google Forms.
7. Personalize Every Touchpoint in Customer Journey
We all appreciate it when someone goes the extra mile to understand our unique needs and expectations. In a report from Accenture, three in five customers agree that they’re more likely to do business with a brand when it recognizes them and caters to them personally.
And it doesn’t take much to deliver what your customers expect.
From the moment a customer comes on your website to when they receive their order or start using the product, a customer’s journey personalization can make customers feel part of the business or brand.
Here are a few things you can start with:
- Add personalization to any emails, texts, phone conversations, or newsletters shared with the customer.
- Use a tone that matches the customer’s personality.
- Connect customers to support agents with the appropriate skills.
- Recommend choices based on their preferences.
8. Don’t Wait for Feedback. Ask for it.
To keep your services and support in check, you need to keep analyzing them from different perspectives. And there is no other resource more reliable than your customers to do the job. That is why you must encourage your customers to write informative feedback and reviews.
According to research, consumers today prefer to trust authentic sources like customer reviews on Yelp and Glassdoor over any information advertised on commercials.
Businesses like Airbnb are the best examples in this case. Most people look at ratings and comments others have left on the website and app to decide what hotel or super host is worth selecting. Very few would consider viewing exaggerated advertisements before making their booking.
Don't hesitate in asking customers for reviews or replying positively to already posted feedback. Focus on understanding what your customers have to say about you goes a long way toward ensuring unique experiences for customers in the future.
9. Play Smart with Unhappy Customers.
In today’s internet-driven world, an unhappy customer will do more harm to your brand’s reputation than anything else. But there is always a silver lining here, right?
In this case, when a customer voices a complaint, they highlight a problem related to your service or product. With a strategic approach, you can turn customer complaints into opportunities to improve your product or service quality. And in doing so, you can turn your unhappy customers into loyal customers.
The key is to have a straightforward process for collecting and addressing customer complaints. Here’s a 5-step plan that will help you handle customer complaints effectively.
- Acknowledge the customer's request or complaint.
- Keep the customer in the loop with the actions you are taking to resolve their matter.
- Record and categorize the request for future references.
- Resolve the customer complaint as per the company policy.
- Follow up with the customer and ask them for a review/rating.
10. Keep Improving Your Average Resolution Time
Time to resolution is an important customer service metric. Keeping your resolution rate high ensures your customer happiness, your support team’s efficiency, and your overall business success.
Unless your support team manages more than 1000 customer requests per week, their average resolution rate should be between 74%–90%. This is a reasonable industry standard, keeping in mind that not every request gets resolved in a single response.
But if your team’s resolution rate falls close to 40%, you should rethink your support strategy for the better. Make it a habit to,
- Analyze AHT data
- Exploring ways to optimize your current processes
- Keep a close eye on happiness/satisfaction metrics
So, Are You Ready to Delight Your Customers?
Your customers may change their needs or preferences over time, but one factor that constantly affects their decision to make a purchase or do business with you is customer service.
9 out of 10 companies are already competing based on their service and support strategies. By putting the above CX tips into practice, you can gain your much-needed competitive edge and deliver the experience you promised to your customers.
Plus, it feels good to see your customers happy.