Customer Service 101; Pt 1: How To Choose The Best Customer Service Channels For Your Business
Considering all of the technological options available today, choosing the best customer service channels for your company can be challenging. The methodologies you decide to implement have a direct impact on the level and type of customer service you can provide.
However, it is unrealistic to expect a new business to utilize every customer support channel available. The essentiality lies in choosing a few channels that meet the needs of your customer base. Let's discuss five foundational elements to help you choose the best customer service channels for your business.
Email is one of the most common customer service support options because of its speed and simplicity. You can communicate almost immediately with your customers, without requiring a staff member to be available around the clock, like a live channel. Email also offers the opportunity to establish reasonable response time goals, such as a note on the email form with your usual reply time.
Additionally, servicing clients through email creates a valuable record of the discussion. This way, you can easily review the conversations again later, discerning overall customer satisfaction levels and obtaining feedback. Keeping in mind common trends and patterns over time can highlight needed improvements to refine your company's business plan.
Here are some helpful email support tools:
2. Social Media
If your customers are active on social media, they are likely to use this channel to reach out for support. Though their customer service "request" may appear more in the form of online praise or criticism, it is important to respond properly to both.
Your response, though only directed to one customer, is publically visible by many current and potential clients. This unique situation allows you to reflect your company's values and morals to numerous bystanders. They may, in turn, become impressed by the positive handling of customer service issues and be left with a positive image of your company.
However, refrain from creating an availability on every social media network. This will only add more stress and confusion for you while offering little to no value to customers. Instead, offer support on just a few key social media sites, preferably the ones favored by you and your customers.
Here are some great social media tools for business owners:
3. Live Chat
While most customer support channel inquiries come from current or past clients, live chat offers a key difference: the opportunity to assist potential clients. Moreover, it provides a quick and easy option for real-time support to anyone who is browsing on your site.
Give sufficient thought to where your chat box will go and what purpose it will serve. It should be easily accessible to customers, offering an effortless service experience. Consider inviting customers to start a chat who may be browsing, but haven't yet placed any items into their cart. Or, enable a chatbox after the checkout process to assist with any questions regarding the completion or shipping of the purchase.
Of course, your company may not have the availability to offer live chat services 24/7. Instead, set hours on your site so that customers know when you will be online for assistance. Examine your high traffic times, and consider arranging your live chat availability to fit. Additionally, you may choose to turn on the live chat for special sales or after sending a promotional email.
Here are some live chat resources to check out:
Tried and true, the telephone is still a favored customer service channel, especially when dealing with time-sensitive, urgent information. Many clients feel more assured when they are offered a direct line to call or leave a voicemail.
Furthermore, you can use this opportunity, coupled with a positive, kind tone of voice, to calm upset clients and show you truly care. A little human-touch goes a long way in terms of leaving an online customer with a pleasant feeling about your business.
As with other channels of customer support, offering a telephone contact number doesn't mean you have to be available by telephone 24/7. Feel free to post on your website your hours of availability. Make sure to note that you return all voicemail messages, even leaving an average response time, so your customers know when they can expect a return phone call.
Here are some business phone support tools:
5. Helpful Online Content
Another customer service channel to consider is helpful online content, such as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Providing an easily accessible compilation of anticipated questions equips customers with answers they need. This self-service on the client's end saves you both time and reduces the amount of further customer support they may require.
In the beginning stages of business, you may not have any frequently asked questions with which to fill your FAQ page. However, anticipate what customers may inquire about by articulating company policies and standard eCommerce practices. Consider common questions regarding billing, processing, shipping, and customer accounts. An especially noteworthy FAQ point to highlight is your return and/or exchange policy, or the lack thereof.
Keep in mind, changes and improvements become necessary as a business grows. Your helpful online content is not an exception. Revisit this page accordingly to make updates reflecting the questions and concerns your customers actually have. (Remember those customer service emails discussed in point one of this article!)
Check out these tools for helpful online content:
Choosing The Best Customer Service Channels
When choosing customer service channels for your business, don't take on every single method. Instead, frame your decisions based on the needs of your clientele. Further, if you implement a channel and find that it isn't working for your business, change your availability or put it on hold altogether.
When it comes to servicing your customers, quality outranks quantity. Strive to provide nothing but top-notch support. The benefit of choosing proper customer service channels is high, and, with it, you bring to your company a strategic, revenue-driving, competitive advantage.