The far-reaching changes all businesses have experienced over the last three years have demonstrated how quickly what was once normal, no longer is.
Now is a great time to reflect on 2022 and map out our business strategies for the new year. In the customer service world, we need to anticipate what our customers will expect from us and how we can deliver those expectations promptly and effectively.
As technology progresses rapidly and customer demands increase, we must map out ways to combine new technology with our service strategies. Here are some of the customer service areas to anticipate and focus on.
Build a Positive Brand Image
Building your brand and a positive reputation is more important than ever. With the explosion of e-commerce and reduced barriers to entry for new businesses, many choices are available for today’s buyers. By now, customers have shopped for lower price alternatives and learned that less isn’t always more, especially regarding price and quality. As a result, customers tend to purchase from brands they feel they can trust. Building brand visibility is a crucial component to expanding your customer base, in addition to delivering quality products and standing behind them by providing customer-centric, friendly, and professional support.
Personalize Support Expectations
Personalized experiences are becoming the norm. Each customer expects to be treated like your only customer. By integrating call center technology and data in CRMs, you can make every customer feel special from when an agent greets them until the interaction is complete. Acknowledge past purchases and apply knowledge of buying habits in customer interactions to resolve issues and maximize revenue opportunities through related sales efforts.
Practice Agent Appreciation
Customers have high service expectations, and companies must show appreciation for the support staff that delivers those expectations. Since the pandemic, there has been a human capital shortage across the customer support space. Companies are applying additional efforts to recruit and retain high-quality agents. Costs have increased, including salaries and related fees like insurance and other benefits. Consider the costs associated with hiring the right people the first time and the additional costs of replacing them if they don’t feel appreciated. Beyond the budget, remember that agents are your company’s brand ambassadors, and the impact they have, positive or negative, on your reputation is far-reaching. Every company’s primary goal is to build a base of loyal customers who purchase from them multiple times while recommending the brand to friends and family. Applying the best possible support personnel to customer service programs is critical in achieving that goal.
Assume a Savvy Customer
Customers are more demanding and better educated in the buying process than they’ve ever been. Whether you sell B2C or B2B products or services, buyers have less patience for brands who do not provide precisely what they need, which applies to product features and service experiences. Companies should assume customers have done their homework before contacting support and seeking details beyond what is available on your website or in marketing collateral. It is also fair to think they have vetted your competitors and are prepared to negotiate prices and policies (warranty, returns, etc.) and leverage what they know. Ensure your agents are properly trained and ready to serve the savvy customer.
Ensure Great Service Experiences
The service bar has risen. Let’s face it; not every company provides great service experiences. However, many do, and chances are that some are your competitors. Customers remember good experiences and expect similar quality from every company they contact, so ensure you aren’t lagging behind the competition. There are many ways of measuring success, typically through reports measuring KPIs. Every brand should strive to provide the best possible service experiences, which drives better results across the industry through healthy competition.
Provide Contact Channel Options
Customers expect all communication channels to be available to them. Customer service by telephone is still the most popular way customers interact, but other channels are becoming more prevalent. Email, chat, and SMS have taken on prominent roles as communication channels, particularly for brands selling to Generation Y and Z customers. Even more mature audiences opt for chat, for example, when seeking support with brands that outsource support staff outside the USA, hoping to bypass miscommunication over the phone. While there are additional considerations to account for when expanding service beyond the telephone, the fact is that most companies are utilizing mutli-channel technology to offer customers the communication choices they prefer.
Implement Additional Self-Service Paths
The self-service function continues to grow, and companies, particularly those looking to save money in support, are adding additional options to their menus. While many argue that self-service provides an inferior customer experience relative to live agent support (we agree with this sentiment in general), customers don’t always need or want to contact live agent support. The recommended approach is to incorporate as many paths as you can reasonably automate that customers regularly request. Tasks such as confirming that an order has shipped, the date of a shipment, or find a store location closest to them are easy to automate through interactive IVR platforms. Before implementing, make sure your audience is comfortable in the self-service role. Customer’s opinions on the self-service approach do vary. Solicit feedback from your unique customers through a market research program or by asking them when and why they contact customer service.
Empower Customer Service Staff to Generate Revenue
Customer service staff should be viewed as revenue generators as much as resolution staff is. Historically, companies viewed customer service as an expense. Today, many brands have customer service agents up and cross-selling products, where appropriate, after successfully resolving a customer’s request for support. Properly planned and deployed, your customer service team should be empowered to generate revenue and grow your brand.
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Telecom, Inc. has provided domestic customer service support for 30 years. We custom design our support models to the unique needs of your program. Our solutions are focused on maximizing production and customer satisfaction while minimizing costs. Please contact us to learn more.