By Des Nnochiri

 

It’s a well-known and often repeated business motto that it is cheaper to retain customers than it is to attract new ones. In order to save on marketing, networking, and the cost of potentially losing disgruntled customers, your customer service needs to be on point. You should already have a strong team in place whose focus is on service, but consumers are starting to expect more from the companies they support. Here, we’ll look at five useful online tools that will better equip anyone responsible for customer service in your business.

Social Media

This one is simple, and it can be set up and run by pretty much anyone in your business, providing you trust them to speak to your customers. It requires no specialist knowledge to implement and use, just a basic awareness of each platform and an understanding that most of what gets posted can be seen by anyone.

Customers are taking notice of brands that are clever with their service on social media, with more and more companies willing to put some personality into their social media presence. Not only does it add some transparency, as you can reply to people publicly, but it’s also easy to give a quick acknowledgement of a problem while you work on fixing it.

If you have more than one person responding to customers, provide them with some training to ensure that their answers and tone are consistent. Just because social media is a more relaxed form of customer service doesn’t mean that the usual rules don’t apply. As with any form of written communication with customers, it is important to be legally-compliant, polite, and accurate in your responses.

Live Chat

Similarly to social media, live chat systems are becoming a preferred method of customer service because of the fast response times and lack of queues. Unlike online FAQs or message boards, customers get the opportunity to have their issue resolved quickly by an actual person. 

Phone calls are the usual way to get most customer complaints and queries sorted, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best way. Many customers get put off if they are put on hold or stuck in a queue, and some simply get flustered when speaking on the phone.

There can be a feeling of being rushed while on a phone call – you need to go and get a pen, or move to find better signal, or you realise partway through that you haven’t dug out an account number that you need and have to go to the computer to find it. That is all solved by live chat systems.

As well as the benefits for customers, your employees may find that an online chat system is preferential to phone calls or even emails. It’s not uncommon for some people who speak English as a second language to have no trouble with written English but struggle to understand certain accents and dialects. There is also the added satisfaction of giving a customer an immediate solution and knowing that there is usually no follow-up needed once the chat session has ended.

Surveys

Customer service doesn’t have to end with a phone call, email, or even a sale in a store. If you’re serious about encouraging return business, surveys are a good way to invite customers back without being too salesy. By including survey links in your correspondence – including store receipts and confirmation emails – you demonstrate to customers that their patronage is appreciated, and you want to offer the best service possible.

Online survey tools make putting together feedback questionnaires quick and easy, and they will aggregate the responses for you. They can help you to pinpoint recurring issues in your service and read customer complaints that you might never otherwise know about.

Instant Messaging

As well as live chat and social media platforms to expedite communications between service operators and their customers, it may be worth looking into ways to speed up communication between your employees. Having a script is useful for the most commonly raised issues, but time delays occur when a team member needs to confer with a colleague or pass the query along to a supervisor. This becomes even more inconvenient if they need to communicate with a team in a different office or a different country.

If a customer is in a crisis, they don’t want to be put on hold or be told they may not hear back for a number of days while their issue is passed on to the relevant people.

By implementing a company-wide instant messaging system, you open the lines of communication between departments and allow employees to share their knowledge more easily – even while taking a phone call.

Some systems cost money per user or work by a subscription. As with any new technology, it is worth first doing some research and reading reviews to figure out which solution best suits your business.

All-in-One Solutions

To get the most out of your team, you may want to implement more than one of these tools. However, the more different bits of software you install, the more there is to manage. All-in-one solutions, like Zendesk or Freshdesk, include several customer service tools in one package, meaning each user has one login to remember and just one place sending them notifications.

Despite their name, not every all-in-one tool will do everything you need it to do. Again, before committing to a big implementation like this, it is important to find the one that will work best for your business. Remember that, while this kind of solution will certainly have its advantages, your team will require time to train and get used to the system, and you don’t want to waste that time on a tool that, ultimately, you end up having to ditch.

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