Sound business principles dictate that the customer is king, and you must treat a king like royalty. Customer goodwill translates to more revenue, free marketing, increased market share, and sustainable business growth. A combination of value proposition, market research, segmentation, product differentiation, branding, and customer service; takes a holistic business strategy to achieve goodwill. Having excellent customer service adds an exotic flavor to the business strategy that few companies have been able to master.
Most organizations function without any competitive edge in customer service, surviving to falter with the vicissitudes of the market. Few realize that nothing can prepare a company for tomorrow like excellent customer service today. Customer service appears to be a complicated aspect of the business, although it is simple when you break it down. But why do so many organizations get it so incorrect? There must be something amiss.
Customer Service Challenges
Every business is built and run by overcoming challenges, a skill very few people have mastered. Entrepreneurship is not a ship that everyone can sail. The few people who attempt are often unable to steer the ship and ultimately fall overboard. One such difficult set of challenges faced by most organizations is in building excellent customer service.
Listening to Customer needs
As simple as it sounds, it's also one of the most difficult aspects of customer service to get right. Listening to customers requires patience, showing empathy, and the will to serve them well. Most customer service desk agents have an invisible filter through which they hear customer grievances and perceive their needs. This filter formed from past experiences and field knowledge greatly skews the overall perception, clouding the real problem and their response to the problem.
Understanding the exact requirement or problem faced by the customer is the first step towards a solid resolution that leaves the customer happy. Good understanding comes from listening to the customer when he dictates the problem or the query, politely asking relevant questions, breaking the ice by being empathetic towards the customer, and ensuring that you got all the details right by repeating them to the customer. Even in cases where the customer has a poor understanding of a particular product or service, showing empathy and understanding where they come from helps the customer open up and share more details about their issues. The more information you have, the better the solutions you come up with.
Lack of knowledge base
Knowing your product or service is vital to serving the customers. Service agents are experts from the perspective of customers approaching them. Any ambiguity in their response, lack of clarity, delay in response, or routing the request to other agents results in a drastic fall in that perception and trust. If you don't know what business you are in, you have little chance of serving the customer.
Customer service desks can mitigate this problem by:
● Developing a knowledge base integrated with the customer service application that assists service agents in resolving customer queries
● Maintaining historical records of similar issues in the system and the best responses
● Intelligent routing of workflow that reduces delay in response
A quick and thorough response to the problem solidifies the customer goodwill and trust in your brand. There is no better marketing strategy than a happy customer.
Too much Automation and too little humanity
Automation is crucial for an efficient and seamless workflow, avoiding delays and monitoring customer service in real-time. But it is also the most difficult aspect of customer service to get right. How much automation is "good automation"? There is not a clear, one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Several factors dictate the extent of optimal automation in customer services like demographics, market segments, sector, and many more. In general, workflow automation of customer service is a no-brainer absolute must!
Automating your customer service workflow allows you to do a bunch of things that you could not have in the traditional ways. Automation allows tracking and monitoring customer requests, sending notifications, collecting customer feedback and valuable metrics, deriving insights from the data, all of which goes into eliminating bottlenecks and improving business operations. Apart from workflow operations, elements like chatbots and automated emails allow your business to interact with the customer 24x7, even though you can't be working around the clock. New technology like AI and machine learning can significantly improve the quality of customer service through recommendation systems and data insights. Use technology to your advantage in customer service but ensure that you give it the human touch.
Nothing breaks trust like an unkept promise. When service agents are required to commit a date or time for the resolution of the customer ticket, they must be certain that they can meet those commitments. Any slippage in the response breaks customer goodwill and trust. While committing a date and time for the resolution of tickets is a difficult task, there are a few pointers to be mindful of that can improve the chances of getting it right:
● Develop a system maintaining historical records of response time for similar issues in the past
● Be proactive and collaborate with the people involved to expedite the response
● Ensure that you have accounted for all the sub-activities involved in completing the response
Customers also appreciate it if the service agent follows up on their problem resolution after the ticket closure. It builds trust and makes the customer feel the importance you place on their goodwill.
A customer-centric approach is stepping into the customer's shoes and building your service approach around it. It encompasses all the points discussed previously and some more like being perceptive of customer issues before the product or service reaches the market and being proactive enough to maintain a list of FAQs and help files on the website. When it comes to customer service, the devil is in the details!
The best customer service is not having to serve at all!. It implies developing products and services that do not lead to customer queries or complaints. This is an almost impossible proposition, and even the most proactive businesses require customer support to maintain brand image. You are supposed to deliver the ideal product or service that eliminates the need for customer support, but since you cannot do it, maintaining a comprehensive customer support service is the least you can do for your customers! Developing a customer-centric service involves ease of connectivity, multichannel communication, and putting the customer's interests first.
Customer service has inherent challenges and is a demanding aspect of the business. It requires a combination of domain expertise, people skills, communication skills, the ability to use technology, being always alert and mindful of customer requirements. The odds are stacked against you right from the start. You can get it right if you seek help from the best in the industry.
At Wolken, we have developed our business around excellent customer service. We offer customer service solutions to businesses across the globe and help them take their customer service game up a few notches. Get in touch with our team to find out more.