Although they’re selling vastly different products, brands like Rackspace, Zappos, and Lowe’s all have one important characteristic in common—they offer fanatical customer support from passionate team players. All three companies have worked to redefine customer-centric experiences and made one thing crystal clear—regardless of your industry, you have to keep up.1 According to Michal Maimaran of the Kellogg School, “You’re no longer just competing against the companies in your industry—you’re competing against everybody.”2 Today’s customers have high expectations and demand the same personalized, convenient service whether they’re buying shoes online or tweeting about a website outage.
Follow these ten tips to master digital customer service and exceed customer expectations everywhere.
1. Get Personal
Reduce frustrations and make interactions more efficient by ensuring that your clients’ interests, personal information, past transactions, and preferences are readily accessible to your customer service agents. Customers expect to give their information once, and not have to repeat it with every new interaction.3
2. Connect in a Meaningful Way
Online communities combine two of the most critical customer care attributes valued by today’s customers—peer-to-peer support and self-service. Customer-centric “social hubs” for your like-minded brand enthusiasts have a substantial positive impact on perceptions of trust and loyalty, and provide a seamless pathway for customers to get support. For inspiration, check out these three social communities we love.
3. Route and Prioritize Issues
Choose a digital customer service solution that allows tracking of all social customer activity and interactions in one place while prioritizing the most important conversations to be addressed first. At a glance, you should be able to identify “early-warning” signs of potential issues with live, actionable data so that you can head them off before they turn into a full-blown PR crisis. With the right preparation and software, customer care teams can efficiently manage a high-volume event while continuing to maintain day-to-day service levels.
4. Sustain Automated Customer Conversations
Gartner predicts that within the next five years, “the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse.”4 To master digital customer service, it’s time to master AI and automated conversational user interfaces. Bot integration can shave time off agent workflows by automating simple transactions like answering commonly-asked questions. Bots can also gather information and classify issues, routing results to the right queue and helping customers reach the appropriate agent more quickly. Start by mapping out your current customer experience to determine where an AI bot will have the most impact.5 Focus on utility over personality and determine when to trigger escalation to a live agent.6, 7
5. Find the Right Expert at the Right Time
No matter how much time you spend training agents, sometimes issues come up that need to be resolved by an internal expert. Have workflow solutions in place that allow you to quickly triage questions internally so that designated internal resources can respond.
6. Give Agents All the Training and Support They Need
Speaking of training: train, train, and train again. Train your agents often and in multiple areas, such as social skills, the customer care playbook, when to escalate, what NOT to do or say, and the psychological aspects of customer behavior, needs, and conflict resolution. Most importantly, don’t forget stress management. Agents who understand how to manage their own stress and provide self-care will have the bandwidth to handle high-pressure situations. Agents benefit from sales and marketing training as well and should have a basic understanding of the products and services your business sells. Check out these six other customer service strategies for highly effective teams.
7. Strengthen Bonds with Visual Engagement
Tell someone, and they might remember; show them, and they are much more likely to remember. When customers can see options and how they fit together, they ask fewer questions and connect more deeply with your product or service. Incorporate images, animated gifs, and video in support interactions. For example, agents can share a user-generated video of a customer resolving common issues or an infographic of how to handle a software update.
8. Give Up Control
Customers are in control of where communications happen, and they expect to be served in the digital channel of their choice.8 When consumers contact your brand through a particular channel, they choose it for a reason. Whether they prefer to reach out through Twitter DMs, SMS, or an online community, every digital customer service interaction should be seamless and resolved where the customer chooses.
9. Go Above and Beyond
Digital customer service all-stars understand that what sets them apart is exceeding customer expectations. Whether it’s surprising customers with company swag or reordering out of stock shoes for a future bride, everyone wins when you keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to make a human connection and brighten a customer’s day. By utilizing a social response tool, your customer care team can efficiently manage thousands of support interactions and still find ways to turn ordinary interactions into unforgettable experiences.
10. Track and Share Customer Satisfaction Metrics
After investing time and resources in delivering the best customer experience possible, it’s important to know how well you are performing. Is your team meeting and exceeding customer needs? By tracking customer feedback with industry standard question formats like Net Promoter Score (NPS®) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), you can survey customers in a structured way to better measure performance. But data on its own doesn’t mean much until you leverage it to take action. One approach is to share negative survey insights with operations to improve your products or service then communicate in your online community or over social media that feedback has led to improvements.9
Consumers expect a consistent, high-quality customer service experience, whether they’re sending you a DM or using your website’s live chat. Master digital customer service and you’re more likely to improve brand loyalty and retain your customers. See real results from the front lines in the eBook Operationalizing Social Care: 10 Best Practices You Need to Know Now.