We all know the fact that every customer service representative is in fact, the face of the company they are working for.
Customers usually make up their judgment about a company by the treatment they received from their sales and service representatives.
Customers are smart, they can figure out if your staff is talking to them to help them out or just doing the company’s marketing.
Which makes customer service a daunting task that must never be taken lightly.
If you are a customer service professional, you know exactly how complex the whole process is. A great customer service team and resolution rate don’t just happen overnight, only you know how many times you failed before reaching where you are today.
When people rave about great service a business provided them do not really know the backstory - how many hours were spent every day to develop, implement and practice the methods that fit right into their perfect place.
Although there are tons of tools to help you improve your service, to begin with, what matters most is the strategy you go about.
Q: What Does Customer Service Mean To You?
Every business has its own meaning of good customer service but it's highly unlikely that they all practice the right methods.
Let’s find out what customer service really means and how it varies from your definition.
Explaining Customer Service
According to Investopedia’s definition of customer service, it is a process that assures a customer’s level of satisfaction with a product or service they paid.
The interaction between a customer and the business’s customer service representative can be in-person, over a phone call, an automated system or through other mediums.
Customer service begins as soon as the person decides to make a purchase - then looks at your available products/services, chooses the desired one, makes a purchase and leaves the store.
But the job isn’t done yet; after sales service also comes under CS’s umbrella.
Customer service means the experience you provide your customers before and after doing business with them. This includes purchasing your product, using it and then providing feedback to you.
‘Customer comes first’ is not just a saying, successful business actually implement this strategy across all employees which results in customer retention.
The practices have been transformed through the years, you cannot solely rely on your traditional call center agent. You must cover all domains your potential customers or existing ones may use to reach you out.
According to a study, customers are instantly disappointed when a business does not have an online presence.
Why? Because the world lives inside our pocket - in other words - as smartphones. Your business must have a support email account, a website with live chat service, a text messaging service, and at least one social media active account.
Other than the basic platforms, many businesses also provide automated support to their customers which helps them get a faster resolution to their problems when the support agent is not available.
However, it isn’t enough to just respond to customers quickly, customer service translates to delivering the promise your company makes to your customers.
Why Is Customer Service So Important?
“89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.” -Gartner Research
Customer service has a huge impact on your business - it is cheaper to retain your existing customers than to find new ones. In fact, acquiring customers can cost up to 7 times more!
Did you know? Bad customer experience is the key factor of churn.
According to the Small Business Administration U.S, 68% of customers are reported to leave due to the poor treatment they received from the support staff.
Don’t be like them!
a. Customer service Makes or Breaks Your Reputation
There is no denying the fact that today, social media consumerism has increased - thus, customers expect to get what they want and they want it instantly.
As a matter of fact, 82% of Business Owners reported that customers’ expectations with their company have risen much higher in the past 3 years.
To make things even more dangerous is the fast sharing of negative experience via online platforms, where they can easily reach a huge number of audiences too. Imagine how many of them could be your potential customers!
Which is why your availability is much more important than ever on popular social networking platforms to support them and prove your strong customer support skills and mechanism.
b. Customer Support Is A Crucial Part of Product Experience
The line is getting blurrier between products and services. If you think only big brands have transformed customer experience into a product or service (For example, Amazon Mayday button), then you are wrong.
Small Businesses are also stepping in to create products as customer experience. You mostly see online businesses with their websites integrated to support centers on their footers or headers. Also by adding relevant links to product support articles on specific landing pages.
App companies have introduced a new way for customers, which is to log tickets into their product experience.
Which tells us that in-product customer support is the future for customer service!
c. Customers Would Pay More To Have Better Experience
Other than being the trend, focusing on customer experience is actually a smart business strategy to go about. You can generate more profit while being the star brand for your customers by providing quality support to them.
According to a survey on customer experience, 86% of customers would pay more to have a better customer experience.
If you have customers that are willing to pay more, you can tier that bunch of premium customers and provide experience to them on the premium level, for instance, priority support, early access to benefits, offers and features (just like a movie premiere for the celebrities, they are your celebrity customers too).
It will all be worth it since providing them a premium service will only benefit your business.
Companies Setting The Example
Next time anybody asks you; what does customer service mean to you? Give them the following examples:
If you are an Amazon customer or have used their service even once, you must be aware of the quality of customer support they provide.
With 67% satisfaction rate, Amazon is known to have exceptional customer support and for all the right reasons.
The two most appreciable and outstanding aspects of their support service are:
A. The innovative and minimal looking in-app support and
B. Bezos Question Mark.
A. Amazon launched a very creative in-app support feature called “Mayday”. This feature was aimed at providing Amazon Fire Tablet users direct access to their customer service.
The feature is actually just a button that can get you directly in touch with one of the support representatives on a live video call!
How cool is that?
The Mayday feature allowed customers to easily access customer service when (24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year!) needed and could be used at any time of the day and the response time will be just a few times!
Unfortunately, in June 2018 the Mayday button feature was discontinued by Amazon for being abused at the user end.
“Mayday Screen Sharing will continue to be offered on supported devices via free customer support, 24×7 by tapping on the Phone & Email icon or via the Help App on their device home screen. With your permission, the Amazon customer service expert can share your screen to draw on your screen, talk you through how to do a task, or do the task for you.” - Amazon.
Considering the fact that Amazon Fire Tablet users have exceeded 30 million around the world, maintaining a 15 second or less response time to all customers is indeed a tremendous achievement.
B. With over 310 million active Amazon users, CEO Jeff Bezos took a pledge to provide never seen before, customer service mechanism.
Have you heard about an organization as huge as Amazon who’s CEO himself looks at customer support emails?
The service is popularly known as Bezos Question Mark. Jeff Bezos looks after a personal email that he has provided to Amazon customers (which is firstname.lastname@example.org, in case you were wondering) and encouraged them to reach him out directly in case they want to report/acquire about any of Amazon’s product/service quality related issues.
Any customer can write to him if they believe the support team didn't cater to them correctly.
Bezos told Business Insider that he checks each email himself and when he spots the ones with a potential problem he then forwards that email to the support department or to an executive, directly.
"I see most of those emails. I see them and I forward them to the executives in charge of the area with a question mark. It's shorthand (for), 'Can you look into this?' 'Why is this happening?'"
What got a lot of speculations was Bezos famous “one question mark” which is the only addition he does to his emails forwarded to the service team.
As soon as the single question mark email is received, the manager/ manager’s manager or the entire team drop everything they are working on and tends to this email first.
The person responsible for that specific domain of query received will then format a response that explains the situation to both, the customer and Bezos himself.
Sounds amazing right?
Netflix is a popular paid premium quality content, original web series/movies, and television/movie streaming service.
As a customer myself, Netflix is undoubtedly one of the best service providers in terms of customer experience and product help.
If you visit their help page, you can easily see what I am talking about!
From getting in touch with live chat support to calling a support representative to request your favorite content or require help with something that isn't there, the website has everything a customer would probably ask about.
I like how they have put everything in one place so that users can choose their desired and appropriate option to choose from.
Netflix knows how to stay in the game, thus provides ‘1 minute response time’ to its customers for both, call and chat supports.
--> Story Time!
About a month ago, I was watching Friends on Netflix for Web and suddenly the episodes went unavailable, I tried for next 24 hours and still, no episodes were playing (my bill is always paid just, FYI).
So, I decided to go for the Live Chat Support on their help center, I was surprised to see the response time was indeed less than a minute. The agent successfully fixed the problem and I was able to resume my streaming!
The End. <--
Since Netflix is solely online based, exceptional customer service is of absolute necessity for them.
Mainly because the company is aware of the consequences of being unable to resolve customer issues or providing them a quality service; there are tons of streaming services customers can easily switch to!
So if you are in search of the answer to”What does customer service mean to you?” Netflix would be self-explanatory for you.
Social Media as a Customer Service Channel
“The emergence of social media has given consumers a whole new way to interact with the brands they love — and a forum to complain when brands disappoint. But what many companies have learned is just how powerful connecting one-on-one with customers can be when those consumers take the time to post.” - Market Force
As much as social media has eased reaching out to prospective customers and generating business from it, brands continuously fear being reviewed badly on social media.
The word of a few customers against a business giant is a lot more powerful in today’s world and it may sound like a great shift of authority in the history of B2C, but it has become a business's nightmare to have bad publicity on social media.
→ 89% of customers prefer purchasing from a competitor when faced with poor customer service. (Oracle)
→ 45% of customers review bad customer experience with a brand on their social media and to the brand’s account as well. (Dimensional Research)
→ 88% of the audience look for online reviews that customers have provided on social media or website. These people trust them as much a personal recommendation from a friend. (BrightLocal)
→ 71% of customers are more likely to buy online based on referrals received through social media. (Hubspot)
→ Customers are more likely to spend up to 40% more when a brand engages and responds to their service-centric queries on social media. (Bain & Company)
Since most of your customers are on their mobile devices, it's essential for you to have a social media presence. It is practically impossible to find each and every social networking website and make a business profile over there but covering the basics with Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and LinkedIn is somewhat necessary today.
Responding fast is not enough for a customer, they want a personalized response with a resolution just as much.
As an online customer, my first instinct is to make a purchase directly from a brand’s website or alternatively a third-party integrated social media shop (mostly on Facebook) to make sure the product is worth my money, I always check the customer review section (not just on the website).
Due to the fact that these are real people, real customers with real experiences with a particular brand, I will be much more convinced with what they say.
As being an existing customer - while scrolling through my newsfeed - If I see a new offer, feature, news or whatsoever post from a brand, I prefer dropping my queries either in the comments or into their inbox.
The response rate and time vary from business to business but the resolution is mostly positive in my experience.
Automating Customer Service?
Keeping in mind the amount of customer service queries a business receives every day on social media, email, website help page, etc., responding to each one them separately would be such a hassle.
According to Salesforce, their customer's satisfaction rate has been increased to at least 35% by using automated customer support.
Providing a way to resolve issues themselves - self-service customer support is a quick and smart way to filter out customers who require a human support agent from the ones who just want to know how to change their password.
The best way to do so is by integrating an automated live chat support bot with your website or social media.
A chatbot is capable of handling all of your customers at once. This saves your live chat support time and costs to a great extent.
If you are skeptical about the results of a chatbot catering to your online customers, you can read about tons of successfully running chatbot reviews online.
Big names like; Whole Foods, CNN, Spotify, Sephora, Mastercard, Wall Street Journal, and many others are also using chatbots for more than just customer support.
Which Chatbot Platform Should I Choose?
Botsify provides a comprehensive self-service as well as Premium service platform where you can create a chatbot, customize it with multimedia and several in-app integrations, for your website and/or Facebook.
• You can create multiple chatbots, each one of them will have multiple scenarios your chatbot will respond to your customers and take the burden off of your customer support team.
• Our chatbot is capable of understanding the context of the query asked and responds accordingly.
• You can insert images, videos, audios and much more to make your chatbot as engaging as possible!
• You can engage your dissatisfied customers as well, by responding to them quicker and keeping a record of their response each time your chatbot interacts with them.
• You can respond to your Facebook comment via your chatbot as well.
• In case you want to jump in and rescue your chatbot when it fails to respond or in any other case you want to interact with a particular customer, you can simply turn your chatbot off and talk to this customer. Once done, don't forget to turn your chatbot back on!
8 Tips to Improve Your Customer Service
1. Provide Support As A Team
Understand the fact that customer service is to be treated as a team sport and you will never attain perfection at it.
Unlike Sales, Administration, Marketing and Human Resources, Customer Service can never be complaint-free. You will continue to receive issues every single day and the best way to keep a hold of them is by maintaining the department-wide open communication policies.
2. Train Your Support Team
What’s the point of creating a mind-blowing help desk solution for your customers when none of your service representatives knows how to use it properly and get the full advantages of the software.
Forwarding high-level technicality issues to product experts is the right approach but train each and every customer support representative with your help desk.
For example, if you are using a chatbot for your website, make sure each one of your customer support team member knows how to extract data from it, how to handle technical issues with it and in general keep an eye on how it is running.
This way, any of them can pitch in during an emergency or busy hours on a daily basis.
At Botsify, our support team spends at least 30 minutes every week with the product team to stay on top of all the latest updates and features of the platform, in case they are front line and asked to respond to a query from a customer if need be.
3. Always Listen To Your Customers
This one you may have already heard of but, there is nothing better for a customer to talk to a support agent that really listens.
Always take your time to carefully listen to the customer and figure out how it is affecting them. Customers tend to stay loyal to brands that value their needs beyond providing quality product/service.
4. Ask Questions If Needed
Companies should encourage their support agents to ask questions for the sake of clarity when interacting with customers. The best way to resolve an issue is by completely understanding the issue rather than jumping to grab your tool kit and fix it.
5. Share Customer Feedback
Did you know?
Your customers can be an asset to your company as well as your product too. When sharing their feedback, sometimes customers can bring great ideas out of customer request/curiosities and ‘what ifs’.
Companies can actually derive product innovation ideas out of customer feedback.
Some startups encourage their customer support staff to present these ideas in company-wide meetings.
6. Engage Customers With Personalized & Friendly Service
Every customer wants to have a human, friendly and personalized experience while interacting with a customer support representative.
Similarly, if a chatbot is engaging, funny and humane, customers will more likely to interact with it. This will give them an idea of being cared for.
Add personality to your service as much as possible, whether it's your support agents or your chatbots
Similar to this: Create a Customized, Branded Chatbot with Tips to Chatbot Branding
7. Improve Customer Experience With Feedback
How many times have you asked if your team was able to help the customer?
Set up a system that takes customer feedback at the end of each customer-agent interaction. Make a quick quality survey that can be filled within a minute or two.
This feedback will help you improve your service quality as well as keep a track of customer’s expectations from your brand.
Botsify also provides conversational forms for your support chat. You can create Survey forms by adding quick buttons as well. Impress your customers by providing them a no-typing feedback form
8. Every Second Count
Customers hate one thing the most - waiting.
Never in the history of business and customer interaction do customers liked long response time. A quick and problem resolving response not only retains customers but builds brand trust and confidence in the quality in your service.
It has been proved over and over that a happy customer is the one that stays.
And once they are happy, the ball is in your court!
Final Thoughts on: What Does Customer Service Mean To You?
Customer service means the kind of experience you would like to have yourself.
Good customer service can be determined by asking yourself a simple question: would I be satisfied with the kind of service I provide to my own customers?
If the answer is ‘no’ you need to start from the very basic, look at what has already been done and learn from your mistakes.
Tweak the ones that didn't work for your business and customers both, keep the ones that did and discard the ones that are stale/bad for your name.
If the answer is ‘yes’ (with being truthful to yourself and your business), you are the customer service marathon’s Usain Bolt and not just you, your customers are winning every day while making you profit.
So what’s your take on customer service? Were you able to relate to the ones described above or noticed some major differences? Feel free to leave a comment and share your idea of great customer service!