As more and more people spend time reading and writing online reviews, it has become common to hear about various companies' customer service. Consumers rely on each other to share the details of their customer experience to make decisions about whether or not to give their business to a company.
With that in mind, it's important to understand what customer service refers to and how it impacts your brand's customer satisfaction (and bottom line). Let's dive into the definition of customer service, why it's important, and what you can do to improve your customer loyalty.
The Definition of Customer Service
Essentially, customer service encompasses all of your company's interactions with your customers. But what does customer service mean, really? Good customer service means informing customers about your products and services before purchasing and any support your customer service team provides during and after purchase.
If you have an ongoing subscription service, customers may be more concerned about your customer service since they may need to interact with your customer support agents on multiple occasions.
Once upon a time, technical support teams may have been limited to phone support centers and in-person service in brick-and-mortar shops, but those days are long gone. Today, you need to be aware of how customers communicate and provide feedback. This includes email, social media, text messages, and live chat.
That can seem somewhat overwhelming, especially for small and medium-sized retailers.
Automated Customer Service
Not all excellent customer service needs to incorporate a physical customer service position. With automation, you can provide solid customer service and problem solving while saving on the overhead costs of employee staffing.
For example, when you call a pharmacy, there is usually an automatic voice menu with certain options. Depending on what the person wants to do, the voice menu may be able to act automatically without needing to take up the time of a pharmacist or representative. This menu might enable a customer to request a refill, check on their prescriptions, or schedule a time to pick up their refills.
However, be careful not to make your voice menu overly complicated, or you'll risk annoying customers who need to speak to a human being immediately. The same principle goes for chatbots online. It needs to be obvious how to contact a real person so your customers don't become frustrated repeating their requests over and over again.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, customer service has expanded to mean more than two people who are interacting. Many customers, especially millennials and younger generations, want to do their own research and answer questions without getting in touch with your customer service representatives. The best way to enable this desire for research is to provide online tools and FAQs.
If you're able to address the most common customer needs online with tutorials, videos, or simple answers, customers will see that your company is proactive and appreciate the speed with which they can solve their issues. Another way to make it easier for customers to answer their own questions is to have a wide range of blogs on various topics, diving in-depth into common issues or questions people have asked.
Another option is to add links either through those blogs or through a learning page to other websites with tutorials that apply to your products if you don't have the time or money to make your own. It's always better to create your own content instead of linking to something else, but in some cases, you may want to link scientific studies to back up your assertions.
Interactive Customer Service
The most common types of customer service involve one of your company's customer service representatives interacting with a customer. This can happen via the phone, email, text messaging, social media, or live chats. Generally, the customer will have a question or issue that they need the representative to show empathy and solve in a timely manner.
However, this isn't always the case. There are times, usually on social media, the customer will take issue with some aspect of your company or product, or they may praise it. It is important to respond to this customer feedback to demonstrate that your customer support team doesn't just think of customers as numbers in their annual revenue.
It is essential to be humble, grateful, and helpful whenever possible. If you only respond to questions and issues and ignore compliments and complaints, you're indicating that you don't care if happy customers purchase from your company again and are taking them for granted. Remember, customers don't want to view companies as giant entities that don't care, so always make an effort to respond.
Customers want to solve their issues as quickly as possible, so don't sacrifice the human element entirely to speed things along, or you might end up missing key problems or customers who need to explain a complicated situation to a human being.
Why Customer Service Is Important
Customer service is important for two main reasons: retaining customers and expanding your audience. Retaining customers is the best way to improve your revenue since it costs less to continue to appeal to existing customers than the customer acquisition costs for someone who has never bought from your company before.
In fact, many customers in this modern age will choose to keep doing business with companies that have demonstrated great customer service, even when other companies offer similar products and services with additional features or for cheaper.
On the other hand, if your company doesn't live up to customer service expectations, you will undoubtedly experience significant customer churn, even if your competitors don't offer everything you do or are more expensive than your products.
Some companies have capitalized on this fact by adding multiple tiers for subscriptions to include premium support in the higher tiers. Feel free to experiment with this model if it applies to your business to see exactly how much more customers are willing to pay for better customer support, including priority for requests or access to more communication channels.
Additionally, with the ease of social media and the widespread knowledge of companies across many websites, it is very easy for potential customers to look your company up before making a purchase. Customers rely heavily on word of mouth and online reviews from others to inform their decisions, and if your brand is known for having poor or just subpar customer service, that will prevent many people from giving your products or services a chance.
Some customers will not give companies a second chance after a single negative experience, especially concerning customer service. This depends somewhat on the type of competition your company is dealing with.
Internet service providers might not face the same churn levels as a clothing retailer since one location usually only has one or even no other options for the internet, whereas there are numerous options for clothing.
Stay in Touch with Customers
One of the best ways to see how your business's customer service compares to your consumers' expectations is to keep track of reviews. Customers can leave feedback about their experiences with your company across various platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Yelp! It can seem intimidating to monitor all of those platforms at all times, especially if you have a larger audience, which is why Yext Reviews makes it simple.
Yext Reviews allows you to pull all of your reviews from across the internet into a single dashboard where you can easily check up on them and keep a finger on the pulse of your customers. It also makes it simple to respond to comments and engage with customers productively. This is an important continuation of your company's customer service.
Customer complaints and praises also provide valuable feedback about the features they're enjoying and areas where your company can improve. These insights can benefit your company by helping you make data-driven decisions for the future.
Customer service is an easy aspect of your company to neglect, but it is crucial for customer retention and for understanding what your consumers want. If you want to drive revenue by expanding your audience and retaining prior customers, you'll need to invest time, personnel, and money into improving your brand's customer service.
Contact us to learn more about delivering the best customer service experience to your customers.