5 ways to improve your customer service
 

5 ways to improve your customer service

Providing high-quality customer service is one of the most important parts of running a business. There are many factors that contribute to excellent service, from the way you manage your Facebook page to the speed with which you answer customer requests.

Offering customer support is a necessity, but providing world-class service is a choice that can set your company apart from the throng of businesses producing similar services. Consider how – and why – your brand can integrate the following into its customer service model.

1. Encourage your consumers to speak out
Customers who have positive experiences with your business are much less likely to speak up than those who have had negative ones. According to "Understanding Customers" by customer service expert Ruby Newell-Legner, only 4 percent of dissatisfied consumers reach out to companies, meaning 96 percent of buyers with concerns allow their voices to remain unheard.

"Only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers reach out to customer service departments."

Tapping into the voices of your quieter consumers can allow your brand to not only retain the individual in question, but also improve its overall operations to better serve its consumer base as a whole. Take steps to encourage customers to speak up, such as including a phone number or email address for comments, or updating your social media sites frequently with answers to common questions.

2. Respond in a timely manner
The speed with which you respond to a comment is almost as important as the answer you provide. Social networks and mobile devices have made reaching companies much easier for customers, but they have also affected the expectations buyers have of their businesses. When it comes to digital communication – such as those sent via email or social media – your consumers want a response within two to three days. According to Oracle's 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report, 50 percent of consumers said they would stop using a particular business if they did not receive a response within a week. 

3. Speak your consumers' language
If you're marketing to customers located in a region that speaks a different language, it is imperative that your customer service reflects this. Language translation tools may help international consumers tailor their concerns to your language, but ideally, your business should accommodate any concerns that arise in the native language of the particular region. After you have invested in a business localization service to translate your website copy, search for tools that will allow you to provide quality support to customers in international regions. Whether this means hiring a bilingual staff member to field support requests or regularly using a professional translation service, this step is crucial for brands that operate globally.

Speaking your consumers' language is imperative for providing the highest quality service.

4. Provide several platforms for communication
Customer service used to be limited to in-person visits or telephone calls, but with the rising adoption of mobile devices, the landscape has drastically shifted over the years. Now, consumers have access to – and expect – customer support provided via email, chat, text message and phone. Your brand should adopt a variety of platforms on which it addresses concerns, as the people in your varied consumer base will have their own preferences.

LivePerson conducted an online study on how customers view service, interviewing more than 5,700 people in six different countries. The report broke down the top eight most commonly used customer support platforms, noting that while certain methods were more widely adopted than others, customers were divided when asked to pick which one was best.

  • 61 percent wanted telephone numbers
  • 60 percent wanted email
  • 57 percent wanted live chat
  • 51 percent wanted access to frequently asked questions
  • 34 percent wanted click to call (or the ability to have representatives call them back)
  • 17 percent wanted online customer forums
  • 12 percent wanted pre-recorded video clips
  • 7 percent wanted live video chat

Though the survey did not ask respondents to remark on mobile technology, many customers have noted their preference toward this format.

Examine the various formats through which your brand can provide customer support.

5. Assess your tech capabilities
Adopting these customer service platforms into your business operations is key for providing the best support, but before you can integrate these capabilities, you must ensure your company is capable of handling these new types of technology. Forrester Consulting conducted a survey in 2012 and found that neglecting to update technology in customer service departments may lead to inconsistent delivery of support or inefficiencies when speaking with people over various platforms. Businesses should conduct an analysis on the type of service platforms they currently employ, then discover how they can improve them moving forward.

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