If you’re a small business owner, you’re taking stock of what helped your business to grow in 2020 and what can be improved in the upcoming year.
One area you should definitely assess is how to improve customer service. You need to ask yourself what your customers liked, what they didn’t, and figure out how to adjust in a way that makes sense for your business.
How Can You Assess Your Customer Service?
An easy way to know how your customers feel about the service your business provides is through surveys. Surveys can be added via automated systems to the end of your calls, built into dedicated landing pages, or emailed to your clients. Even if you’re just starting out with surveys, it’s a tactic that can give you a lot of meaningful insight year-round.
You can also monitor customer interactions via existing channels – like social media. Social is a front-line communication channel, that customers find convenient and expect a friction-less interaction to address their needs. Ask your social manager to provide ongoing updates about what customers are saying – to the positive and the negative.
You can also utilize call recording to monitor customer service engagements. Your customer service leadership team should develop a grading system to add structure to better understand these engagements. And graded calls can be used for ongoing training and development of your customer service team.
Tactics to Improve Customer Service
Regardless of what works best for your business, there are some things in customer service that are always appreciated. If you’re looking to really delight your customers in 2021, here is a list of five initiatives that will really have them dazzled.
1. Don’t Get Rid of Your Phone
Many businesses, new and old alike, are forgoing the phone as a point of contact. This is a missed opportunity. It’s a fact that 60% of customers prefer to call small businesses on the phone regarding service issues. In addition, providing a number for your customers to call allows your business to personalize their experience — no contact form ever did that.
Maybe having a full-time customer service agent (or team) isn’t in the cards for your business – or maybe it’s just not a top priority for your 2021 budget. Outsourcing your phone calls to a live answering service is cheaper than hiring in-house staff. Live answer agents are also customer service aces.
PATLive hires less than one percent of all virtual receptionist applicants, and our new team members spend two weeks or more in intensive training before they are ever allowed to manage our customers’ calls.
Depending on your business, our team can even develop specialized training for our agents. And you always have control of your call script and flow through our top-of-the-line call handling software.
2. Maintain a Strong Social Media Presence
If you’re still not on board with social media as a revenue-generating channel, it’s about time you reconsider. Social media usage continues to grow, and now is considered an integral part of any customer service plan. According to Hubspot, 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
Make sure you have at least one team member actively monitoring social, because the same report showed that while 80% of companies online are under the impression that they deliver exceptional social media customer service, only 8% of their customers say they agree.
TL;DR: this is an easy space to improve customer service and how you handle customer queries so you can blow the competition out of the water.
3. Incorporate Live Chat
Live chat is a huge value add to a business’ web site and customers love it, too. In 2021, customer expectations will continue to rise – and they’ll expect more immediate responses from your team. Live chat is the ultimate real-time communication tool for your customers – besides phone. More than 41% of customers expect you to have a live chat feature on your site. The ability to chat with a business allows customers to ask questions while they shop, figure out how something works, or give instant feedback about your business.
One important tip: if you aren’t prepared to manage chat sessions all day long, make sure you note hours of availability on your site. This will ensure you don’t create a mob of angry customers who think you’re ignoring them. You can also activate a chatbot to fill in the blanks while your team is away.
4. Get to Know Your Customers – Like Really Know Them
Customers will continue to become more and more sophisticated in 2021. That’s why it’s important that you show how much you value them in a big way. It’s so easy to jump ship to a competitor, but it’s so much less likely if you’re tracking the details of your interactions with them. A Customer Relationship Management tool can provide an easy way to do that, and more.
You’ll be able to set up automated communication flows, track customer service issue trends, and create deeper personal relationships with every one of your customers – like they’re the very most important customer to your business. Providing this level of nurture to each of your customer relationships is more a standard today than ever before. You can get started easily with a free CRM from Hubspot. There are countless other tools, but Hubspot is a great place to get started.
5. Proactively Serve Your Customer
Never in the history of language has the word “proactive” had a negative connotation. Everyone appreciates someone who anticipates their needs. If you want an experience that will really wow your customers, it’s important to assess customer pain points so you can proactively help to avoid them altogether.
Maybe this comes in the form of sending out onboarding emails that include tips for getting started with a product. Maybe you create a knowledge database that covers every aspect of your product. That’s easy with ticketing platforms like Freshdesk and Zendesk. Maybe you follow up with each customer within a certain number after they purchase your product. Whatever you can do to create a frictionless experience will always dazzle your customers.
You can also use these opportunities to request your buyers leave a review for your business – increasing your authority and visibility online. And if you’ve really delivered an exceptional experience, and provide a quick, easy review process, then your customers won’t mind gushing about you.
6. Showing Your Appreciation Is Always On Trend
Your customers love you. They return to your business all the time and let you know they are telling everyone they know about your service. Wow! That’s a big deal. Not only does it feel good to please your customers, but they are also helping your business to grow. It’s time to give a little something in return.
There are several things you can do to show your appreciation to your customers, and what better time than the holiday season? Here are a couple of ideas for telling them how much they mean to you:
Help them to give back.
Offer to donate a portion of each sale to a charity of your choice. Not everyone takes the time to volunteer. When companies offer to donate on a customer’s behalf, it’s a win-win.
Incentivize your business.
A great way to say thanks to those loyal customers who have brought you even more business is to offer them incentives. Scale it to your business and tailor it to your industry.
Lock pricing for the most loyal.
This is such a huge perk and feels extra luxurious to customers. They will feel like that they are part of the in-crowd.
As you look back over the customer service you’ve provided in 2020, we are certain there are ways you can improve customer service in the new year. Taking the time to come up with a strategy to better serve your customers will create a more loyal faction, increase your customers, and ultimately add to your bottom line.