Customer service professionals know that excellent customer service has become a vital tool in building and maintaining a successful business. But what if the industry’s definition of what comprises good customer service varies from what customers really value? The simple answer is to ask, something Gatepoint Research did in a wide-ranging survey about customer needs, frustrations, and experiences. These and other findings can be found in the report: Uncover the true value of your customer support organization.
What they found serves as a roadmap for customer service success—a path that organizations would be wise to follow for meeting customer service needs. After all, it’s up to us to provide examples of good customer service skills and deliver the support that customers need.
How can you provide good customer service?
- Provide a unified, consistent customer service experience
- Offer a robust and responsive social media presence
- Minimal wait times
- Empathetic agents, no pain points
1. Provide a unified, consistent customer service experience
Businesses have more channels than ever at their disposal for resolving customer problems, from live online chat, traditional call centers, SMS, messaging, social media—even self-service. But just having those channels isn’t enough: 54 percent of survey respondents place more value on the consistency of customer service across and within those channels. It’s not enough to simply provide multiple means of contact; your employees have to deliver strong customer service as well.
That means when your customers reach out with questions on social media, will your employees that provide customer support in that channel show the same level of knowledge, responsiveness, and empathy that employees in the traditional call center have? Did your company put the same level of resources and customer service training for employees into its live chat channel as it did the call center? Do customers receive one answer over phone calls but a different one via email? Consistency is what makes for excellent customer service and what puts your customers at ease, builds trust, and ultimately drives revenue.
2. Offer a robust and responsive social media presence
Customers don’t just want companies to have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages; they want those to be places where they can ask questions, post complaints, and get answers to their problems—fast. As one study found, 30 percent of customers will share positive customer experiences on social media, and more than two-thirds pay close attention to those reviews (including the negative ones that suggest bad customer service). Brand reputation is another big reason for good service.
As Conversocial discovered in a customer survey, 88 percent of consumers are less inclined to purchase goods or services from a company that neglects to answer customer service questions posed on social media channels. That's a problem that, if not addressed promptly, will undermine not just your efforts to provide excellent customer service but to the bottom line.
3. Minimal wait times
When customers recall excellent customer service with a company, the first thing that comes to mind for 69 percent of them is fast resolution time. After all, who enjoys waiting? Perhaps counterintuitively, that doesn’t necessarily mean resolving a problem to the customer’s satisfaction (fewer than half rated that as the most important aspect of a positive experience). In any case of customer service, it’s clear: help them quickly and be pleasant.
Laying the groundwork for that, however, begins with team leaders taking the time to explain the importance of minimizing wait times and asking potential agents the right kind of interview questions—ones that will shine a light on a prospect's communication skills. And beyond hiring the right people (more on that in the next section), support leaders must gauge whether they're providing the kind of helpful workflow rules, tools, and positive customer service examples that will inspire employees to perform their best even when faced with tough situations.
4. Empathetic agents, no pain points
For many customers, good customer service is based on empathy—they want to know that you care about their issues and understand that their time (and patronage) is valuable. And most importantly, they want their experience with your customer service to be free of unnecessary frustrations, such as having to repeat themselves to multiple agents or being placed on hold for long periods of time. Empathy is a major attribute to encourage with employees working in customer service—to hear a customer out encourages them to provide strong customer feedback.
And as artificial intelligence and smart machines capable of learning and exception handling become increasingly advanced, businesses should focus on technology and process investments toward empathetic improvement. As a study by Gartner emphasizes, “While it’s still early days for being able to measure the economic impact of empathy in business, it’s worth noting that companies that have successfully disrupted existing business models did so because of the empathy they felt for customers dealing with inefficient processes and experiences.” Empathy, no matter how it's being delivered, will always be a necessary part of customer service.
Read the full report: Uncover the true value of your support organization.