Digital Customer Service: the 10 Cornerstones
Customer service is about solving the problems of your customers. Now, companies have to manage customer service across multiple channels. When people have a negative experience online, they blame the company. Not responding to customers on review sites and social media is worse than having a phone line that goes unanswered, because there are thousands of people witnessing the neglect.
Whose job is customer service? The truth is, customer service is the responsibility of everyone in your company. Building a brand means delivering on a promise again and again. It means consistency and maintaining effective customer relationships.
The 10 cornerstones to success in digital customer service
1. Respond to reviews quickly
When customers take time to leave a business a review, it’s essential to respond in a timely manner. Nearly nine in ten consumers read online reviews to determine the credibility of a business, and it’s important they see that the business has an active, responsive voice. Not only will other people who visit the review site see the response, but it’s possible those people could share the review and response with their own networks. All reviews should be acknowledged by your business. The only exception to this is star-only rating reviews. These are permitted on Facebook and a few other top review sites.
2. Provide a consistent experience
Depending on the type of product or service that you offer, customers may interact with several people at the company before the final transaction. Your business needs to make sure that throughout the entire experience, that your customers are having positive interactions. The same story should resonate throughout your customer service efforts, and that story should be customer-centric.
Apple is an example of a company that provides a consistent experience throughout their customer funnel. From their website with its sleek, minimalist design to the simple and elegant phone you take home, Apple products and website offer a cohesive experience.
3. Experience your customer journey
Most businesses have put together their online presence somewhat piecemeal—create an account on one social platform, add chat integration to the website, build a blog, expand offerings, etc. While this is the most common way to build out a business, it doesn’t always equal the most seamless customer journey. Go through your buyer’s process. Search for yourself online, look at the website content, sign up for the newsletter, etc. Note any bumps and bruises you find along the way and how you can make the whole experience more cohesive.
4. Use social media as a two-way street
Perhaps the best thing about social media is that it means a sort of democracy for customers and businesses alike—everyone is on the same playing field. While social media can be tiresome, let’s be sure we don’t ruin one of the best things about it—the fact that consumers can have conversations with businesses. Share helpful content, engage with consumers and occasionally share promotional info about your products or services. Asking questions, holding competitions and sharing content relevant to your audience are all good ways to engage with consumers. Don’t just talk, listen.
5. Have a high performing website
People visiting your website are not patient so your business needs to have a webpage and assets that load quickly. Nearly 50% of consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less, anything longer than that, consumers start dropping off. The abandonment rate for viewers waiting to start up a video is a steady curve up and to the right. When website visitors have a poor experience on a company website, they blame the company, not Google, wifi issues or whatever else may be the problem.
6. Open communication and transparency
Consumers can detect sales-y language from a mile away. It’s best to be direct about your offerings, and even your shortcomings. Nail your sales approach and provide consumers the information they’re looking for. Even if you are unable to solve every problem your customers have, they’ll appreciate your honesty and will be less likely to leave. Set your brand voice, share your truths. Being honest with consumers, even if it appears to be a negative, usually pays off.
7. Get your listings right
Having a thorough understanding of listings is essential in the digital space. Getting business listing information accurate (name, address, and phone number) across the web, though, is one of the most important things your business can do to create a better digital customer service experience. There are many important directory and listing sites. Also, having correct listings with the four major data aggregators (Factual, Acxiom, Neustar-Localeze, and Infogroup) is one of the keys to disseminating accurate listing data across the web.
8. Positive attitude
The power of a positive attitude and its influence on customers should never be underestimated. Optimism is a cornerstone of customer service. Small changes in language and wording can make a huge impact on customers:
- Option one: I’m sorry, we won’t have that product in our software this month.
- Option two: That functionality will be available at the beginning of next month! Our development team is hard at work on a few other features that are useful to you, as well….
Abrasive or abrupt language is very off putting in customer service, even if it is not directly rude or negative.
9. Use email effectively
Make sure when you email your customers, that you have something to say. The communication should be timely, relevant and helpful. Having an effective call to action is essential—give them a reason to read and engage with the email. An automated newsletter is fine and can be a good piece of communication, but never have a do not reply email.
The heart of digital customer service (number 10)
Your customers may say they want the best product, and that they want it at the best price. While that is true, what they want most is authenticity. Authenticity is delivering on a promise. Authenticity is consistency. Authenticity is digital customer service.