Customers by nature, are human beings. They want to be treated in a personal way. Customer service is hyper-personal. Period.
But, in times that we live today, automation is happening everywhere. Businesses are rapidly replacing customer service executives with chatbots and automation tools that spew out canned responses. Customer service is gradually becoming artificial, something far away from the personal touch that customer service requires.
Let’s face it. Automation has taken away the charm of customer service. Customers all over the world feel like they are just another number in a brand’s database. That personal attention which made customers feel special is a thing of the past. And soon, it will vanish too.
In the short-term, automation is great to achieve cost efficiency. But, businesses also need to ensure that their customers do not feel missed out for attention due to automation.
How exactly does a business do that?
We explain in simple terms, some tactics for businesses to retain and engage their customers better in times of automation.
Be a reliable advisor
You read that right. Today customers are able to find infinite product suggestions under the sun through online stores. There are also star ratings and reviews that rank the best sellers. But, not all best-sellers match individual requirements. There are also other constraints like budget, choice of color, delivery and so on.
Product suggestions programs cannot help a customer pick a product that is best suited to their personal preferences. It is here that a business can tear down the virtual wall that digitalization has created and forge a personal relationship through true and honest advising.
Marketing tactics like content marketing, video marketing, influencer marketing all fall under this category of educating a customer before turning them into lifelong buyers. Since they all happen online, it is easy to stay connected with customers even if they are located far away from the business.
Build trust through relationships
We forge friendships and relationships with people whom we trust. Even in a business trust is the key factor that convinces a customer to part with his/her hard-earned money. The fact that ‘security concerns’ rank among the top reasons why customers abandon their shopping carts is evidence enough.
A brand that is trusted by customers is sure to beat the competition and soar to leaderboards. Take for instance, Amazon – the global eCommerce brand. The brand is able to amass such massive volumes of sales effortlessly only because of the trust that the brand has earned through customer-centric service.
But, in an automated world building trust in a business relationship can be challenging. It is here that modern tools for marketing like email marketing, personalized offers, dedicated virtual assistants come into play. They can make the customer feel the same way they would feel if they were to transact with an offline business.
Be socially active
More than half of the world is connected through social networks. For more than one-third of millennials, social media remains the prime way to communicate with businesses. A business which is not on social media is very well missing out to attend to its customers.
This statistic compilation from Digital Resonance sums the importance of social media in customer service:
Keeping apart the social media’s ability to market on a large scale, it also doubles up as a platform where customers and businesses can come together and resolve common problems that arise in the due course of customer service.
Train staff for selfless service
One customer well taken care of could be more than $10,000 worth of advertising. ~ Jim Rohn.
Nothing could ever be true than this. Your happiest customers are your brand advocates. To take care of them you need trained staff who can defuse a possible damaging situation into a resolution. To begin with, recruited staff can be enrolled for any customer service course that will expose them to the right way of treating angry and frustrated customers. Moreover, it will also improve brand image, since customer service is nothing but the front face of business post sales.
Automate a process, not the relationship
Like I said before, automation can take away the personal touch in customer service. Automated emails, chat support replies, IVR messages can make a customer feel unwanted. However, it is not possible to do everything manual either, like sending welcome emails when a new customer signs up or when they subscribe to a newsletter.
The trick to striking a balance between automation and personalization. Like the automated mail can be written in a personal tone with clear mentioning of the customer name and preferences. They can also be signed off by the manager or the CEO which will make the customer feel more valuable.
Here is how Buffer, the social media sharing tool makes sure its customers are taken care of 24/7.
In a Nutshell
Customer service is an attitude, not a department. This famous quote proves the need for personalization in customer service even when processes are getting automated.
We have explained so far how to improve customer service without losing the personal touch. Use automation whenever necessary, but make sure you do not miss out on the personal effect that heartfelt customer service can have.