Customer support isn’t often associated with slick innovation or dramatic changes, but new technology and unconventional thinking is completely transforming service models. Now, innovative companies are identifying new channels and rethinking traditional models to better connect their customers with their brand, create cost savings, generate additional revenue and drive brand loyalty.
Are you being left in the dust when it comes to your approach to customer service? Here are the top 5 customer service mistakes and easy to implement changes that will generate greater engagement, less costly overhead and better satisfaction.
1. Stop demanding loyalty from customers. Start giving them a reason to be loyal.
U.S. companies lose $62 billion per year as a result of poor customer service according to a recent survey by NewVoiceMedia. There is a really a simple fix here. Build relationships with your customers by providing positive experiences with your brand and customers will continue spending more money and recommending your brand. Don’t keep them waiting. Make things easy for them. Surprise and delight them. Personalize the experience. Meet them where they are – online, via app, social media etc. Give them options and flexibility to access the support they need.
2. Stop paying for costly customer support channels. Start letting them choose where they get help.
Customer expectations are drastically different now that the Internet and mobile devices provide immediate access to nearly any product or service. The traditional phone support model is the most expensive support option and customers don’t want to use the phone or wait through long call times. Consider launching a self-help customer service approach instead.
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At TextNow, we had a traditional customer support model where customers who wanted to change their data plan, make a payment, or seek technical assistance were encouraged to call our customer service line. After digging into the main call drivers, we quickly realized that the majority of the inquiries were changes customers could easily do on their own. We partnered with our team of engineers to find a unique approach to an age-old problem — and we launched an online Self Help portal. The portal relies on automation technology to solve problems and allows customers to make changes in real time. Customers also have the option to live chat, email, or connect with us on social channels for support, and are encouraged to become part of our online customer support community to help each other out.
With these new options, 80 percent of issues are resolved in less than two minutes, with fewer resources and at a fraction of the cost. Creative thinking and innovation can provide inexpensive, positive experiences that address pain points without breaking budgets.
3. Stop adding to customer frustrations. Start anticipating their needs.
Proactive customer service addresses potential problems before they happen. When I purchased a new thermostat from Nest, I didn’t realize until I removed my old rectangular thermostat and went to put up the sleek new circular Nest that I had a problem. A prominent rectangle shape was left on my wall from the previous color that lived under my new coat of paint. Luckily, Nest anticipated that its circular thermostat might pose some unexpected obstacles for customers accustomed to rectangular devices, and included a rectangular back plate with the device to cover up the area. By anticipating pain points, you can significantly reduce customer frustrations—and support requests—and build stronger customer relationships.
4. Stop treating customer service like a one-size-fits all endeavor. Start customizing.
It’s a misnomer that only luxury brands can offer high-quality customer service and that customers of lower cost businesses shouldn’t expect that same service. For instance, emerging companies with few employees may not be able to offer 24-hour access to customer support, but by building transparency into their business—like letting customers know they do not yet have the capacity to offer immediate assistance—and by providing easy access to alternative help, such as detailed troubleshooting and FAQs, email support, community forums and strong social media channels, they are able to thoroughly support their customers’ needs.
5. Stop assuming customers will resist change and innovation. Start engaging.
Before launching the TextNow Self Help portal, I figured customers needed to be incentivized to put down the phone and use new channels to connect with us for support. I quickly learned that, given a choice, few people prefer a phone call to make a change or fix a problem. Waiting for a customer service agent to answer a call only exacerbates an already frustrated customer. Allowing customers to solve problems on their own—at the push of a button—empowers them and gives them back time that would have otherwise been lost in a call queue.
Embracing simple strategies to drive innovation in customer care—like meeting customers where they want to interact with a brand or helping them save time, allows greater choice and accessibility for customers. Saving time and money creates a positive brand experience and generates more loyal customers. And what can you do with all that money you’re saving? Reinvest it in growing your business.