Customer service has as much a part to play in customer acquisition or business growth as sales. Customer service and how it is delivered must evolve alongside the adoption of social media and technology by consumers and business. Customer service is no longer an “after the event” function, it now impacts sales, business growth even product development. We live in a digital world of connected people and devices. Today the world is talking about new technologies such as the internet of everything, products connected to the home, technologies and apps to improve everyday life.
A company’s business prospects or potential customers are as new as these technologies. They are curious and now use different ways to research a brand or company before interacting with it; they are constantly gathering information from social networks and digital media to make informed decisions.
The sales and customer service channels are being rewritten, the buyer journey has been revolutionised like never before. Here are eight things a business should know to help acquire customers and grow a business.
- Customers like knowledge and to be informed.
Customers and potential customers will help themselves to product or company information if you provide a content library via the web of FAQ’s with at least 100 questions. If they don’t get it on your website, they most likely will go looking elsewhere in the presale process or phone customer service in “after the event” process.
Help content to support customer interaction should include how-to video content, written FAQs, product specs, replies to queries from social forums and research articles. The goal is that this open availability of content will satisfy customers quest for information, allowing the customer service team to focus on higher impactful issues that need one-to-one attention. An informative and comprehensive FAQ page is a win for any business because it requires just time, not money.
- Customers want it to be personal.
Personalisation is the only game in town. Bland demographics are out. Selling today is all about the uniqueness of each potential client. Prospective and existing customers expect offers that are relevant and useful. Do not simply blast out mass messaging or post links on LinkedIn, nothing worse than ill-timed or ill-targeted messaging from a company to turn off customers.
A simple business tip is to focus on building personal relationships and remembering about individual preferences uncovered along the way.
- Be flexibility with your policies.
Business policies may suit the business but do they endear customers. Consumer data shows that 70% of buyers feel that brands are motivated by a self-centred desire to drive profits rather than any genuine commitment to their customers. Some forward thinking companies are turning that feeling around is by becoming more flexible with purchase policies, returns and cancellations.
In the B2B market, especially in digital goods and software, buyers want to try before they buy and not be locked in to a purchase if not for them. Best in class companies are offering more transparent buying procedures, less restrictive return and cancellation policies. Flexible and transparent polices can act as a customer promoter.
- Clear the clutter in purchasing and interaction points .
No matter how big or small your business is, do not put clutter in the way of your customers when they want to purchase or interact. Buyers are educated and most are digital savvy so reduce down the steps when it comes to buying. Take the examples of pre-checking in on flights, paperless tickets for events, touchless payments in shops or ability to download and complete forms ahead of time to save time at hospitals.
These are just some of the examples a business can brainstorm how to clear the clutter and streamline purchasing and customer service. Where do customers experience the biggest clutter points (usually measured in cart abandonment, exit pages, contact forms and phone calls) in your business? That’s the parts any business should clean up.
- Turn customer service into a marketing department.
Customer service is the new marketing. Easy access to information, FAQ’s and touches points to interact with the company impress a customer more than flash ads or meaningless straplines. The old saying of you only get one chance to make a good impression has never been truer with time poor buyers. It really is simple, use customer service as a way to compete and as a customer acquisition channel.
- Customers want a multi device experience.
Customers or prospects are searching, researching and checking out websites or social media channels while on the move. The key is to make it easy for anyone to share your content and communications around the web on smartphones and tablets. Ensure to test all the various elements of a customer’s journey on multiple devices.
7. Look at every touch point
Why spend money getting traffic, leads or sales when a bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can kill the customer relationship with a click. In is in every businesses interest to ensure the right skills and information is being deployed, does customer service understand their strategic importance. Focus in on the major touch points, but make sure the whole customer experience has been plotted. Customer service that is not fully integrated or with holes in the touch points can really hurt business growth.
- Business mission matters
Business mission matters so share it and live it with staff and customers. Customers and prospective buyers will take note if you let them know the business mission and why you are in business.
The bottom line is the customer service team is often the face and voice of a company. In the digital age a customer’s experiences will be defined by the information, skill, accessibility and quality of the support they receive.
A business who just wants to survive will have to have good customer service as standard, but a company who wants to grow and thrive will always be asking “What is great customer service?” These companies will constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to improve the customer service and use it as a customer promotion or customer acquisition channel.