Customer service used to be reactive.
As a small business owner, someone would come into your store or office, present their problem to you, and then expect you to provide them with a solution. Easy enough, right?
Welp, too bad it’s nowhere near that simple anymore.
Your customers have changed. New technologies and mediums have refined their needs and adjusted their expectations. They have adapted to their new environment.
New communication channels your customers are using
The digital age has moved your customer online, providing new channels for them to communicate and interact with their favorite brands and small businesses.
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many more, billions of people are using social media every single day. What started out as a realm for sharing lunch selfies, ugly baby portraits, and trashy memes has turned into a customer service powerhouse.
While this makes social media a fantastic opportunity to engage your customers and drive sales, it also means it is a place where people go to find help and support.
For example, 72% of users who post a complaint on Twitter expect to receive a response, with 42% expecting a response within the hour.
And you know what? A whopping 59% of those complaints go completely unanswered, while social media as a whole is ranked as the slowest method to resolve customer service issues. Talk about missed opportunities…
Why do companies continue to ignore their customers?
It’s clear that consumers want to use social media as a customer support channel.
Try this: Does your business have a social media presence? Setup a business account on all the major social media platforms, and display them in all of your printing materials. Give your customers the option to communicate with you there, and monitor closely. Watch for any mentions of you or your company, and respond quickly.
Text messaging and chat
Texting and mobile chat as a customer service and marketing platform is rapidly on the rise.
Chatting apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Kik are among the most popular apps on the App Store and Google Play, with billions of people using them daily.
Even with the wide variety of chatting and social media apps available, traditional SMS text messaging is just as popular as ever, with 350 billion texts sent every month. Why? With text messaging, you never have to worry about platform compatibility and internet access. If you have a phone, you can receive text messages.
Until now, brands and retailers have had a difficult time monetizing the platform. But that is rapidly changing with companies like Uber, Facebook, and Shopify using text and chat to communicate with customers.
While tech companies continue to develop fancy new chat platforms for communicating with customers, and we wait to have access to them, you can do it the old-fashioned way right now; SMS texts from phone to phone.
Try this: Give out your cell phone number to your customers, and give them the option to text you next time they are in need of some support. You’ll find that most people would prefer to send a quick text than have a conversation on the phone.
In addition to finding new ways to communicate support with your customers, one of the most popular forms of customer service involves almost no communication at all.
Imagine if you could receive a solution to your problem without ever having to contact anyone personally.
Let’s be honest, who wants to talk on the phone these days?
Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to imagine. Ever since Google came into our lives, we have become accustomed to receiving answers to our questions the instant we think of them.
“How does this work? What should I eat for dinner? Where should I buy this jacket?” Just Google it.
Many companies have applied this thought process to their customer support by providing self-service help desks, support kiosks, and FAQ pages to help customers find answers to common problems, instantly.
Try this: Start by setting up a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website. Make it super easy to find. Fill it with the most common problems or questions your customers experience. Then, make sure to list your website prominently in all of your support and marketing documents. See what effect it has on the call volume of your customer support team.
Go where the customers are
Take a good hard look at the current experience you are offering your customers. Look for ways to simplify it and remove buying obstacles.
Don’t be afraid to try new technologies and mediums to reach them. Keep in mind that just because it’s new doesn’t mean it will be effective, so be sure to test thoroughly before integrating them into your marketing strategies.
Your customers are talking to you. Are you listening?