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13 Cornerstones of Digital Customer Service

  • Erin 

Customer service is about providing support and resolving the problems of your customers. Where “customer service” once existed mainly through call centers and phone reps, in the digital age companies have to manage customer service across multiple channels, both online and offline. Customer satisfaction is instrumental in the growth of any company, so the customer service side of a business should reflect that high level of importance and care when it comes to the customer’s journey. 

If someone has a negative experience online, they blame the company — and in a digital world, this can have long-lasting and disastrous effects. The negative review carries a lot of weight online, reaching audiences around the world. It’s imperative that companies have not just good, but exceptional customer care practices in place. 

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. Whether at the top of your funnel or at the bottom, every time a customer interacts with your brand, you have an opportunity to impress them and create loyalty.

Here are the top 13 ways to successfully manage customer service in the digital age:

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. 

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. This means that 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 customer service 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, your customers are having positive interactions. The same story should resonate throughout your customer service efforts, and that story should be customer-centric.

customer service

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’s 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 live 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 determine how you can make the whole experience more cohesive. Then put those improvements into action. 

4. Ask your customers how they prefer to interact with you for customer service and support

Giving your customers options is always a good idea. Let them choose how you’ll communicate with them for support and sales. Ask them if they prefer a phone call, chat, SMS, email, or regular mail. I recently received a request to communicate via fax — it takes all kinds, right?

5. Open communication and transparency

Once you know how they prefer to interact with you, maintain an open line of communication. 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.

6. 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.

7. Stay authentic

Your customers may say what they want most is the best product, at the best price. While that is true, every customer also seeks authenticity from a company. Specifically on social media, you have the opportunity to stay true to your brand voice. Customers appreciate when companies deliver on a promise. Remember that authenticity is consistency. Be who you are, all the time.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Use email effectively

Make sure that when you email your customers, 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.

11. Have a high performing website

People visiting your website are not patient, so your business needs to have a web page 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.

12. Refine your messaging and keep it uniform

Make sure your team is consistent with the messaging for your brand and products. You should meet with your team frequently to create and define your brand’s story, and then be sure that everyone is telling that same story. This is especially important throughout your customer’s journey, as they should hear the same keywords from when they first learn about your brand through the time they become a raving fan.

13. Use your testimonials 

(video, written, case studies). Testimonials are different from reviews and depending on the product or service, can be even more powerful. If you’re buying a high-priced item, you’ll want to look for testimonials and case studies to truly get the full picture before you make the large purchase. Don’t wait for the customers to ask; have your sales team offer references from happy customers. These should be in different formats, including video testimonials, written testimonials, case studies and more.

Customer service is about providing the best quality product or service and customer experience to your buyers. For you to continuously deliver the best customer service to your buyers, you need to Implement these strategies which will elevate your customer’s experience with your brand. 

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