Stories of fantastic customer service never fail to make us smile.
Maybe they’re a reminder that brands and outstanding customer service professionals do genuinely care about their customers.
From companies that exceed expectations to serve their customers to service staff who include a customer’s name in an email or a handwritten thank you email after purchase; these stories are testimonies of the importance of customer service to nurture customer loyalty.
Delivering exemplary customer service is one of the evergreen methods to drive customer retention for your store.
Customer service is always evolving. New technologies are introduced, or consumers may turn to new platforms and mediums to seek customer support. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and wonder what to focus on. However, your customer’s objective remains the same – they want to get their questions answered quickly and feel cared for by your brand.
In this article, we continue with the analysis of trends shaping the e-commerce world; taking a closer look at the developments in the customer service world.
1. Consumers desire convenience in customer service interactions
In developing your customer service strategy, always ask yourself: “will this make it easier and quicker for my customers to connect with me?”
Customer service consultant Shep Hyken aptly describes the customer’s point of view, saying:
“Customers don’t care about terminology; all they care about is being able to connect with the brand however they want to. It doesn’t matter if it’s an online chat (or a chatbot), a social channel like Twitter, a messaging app or even the traditional telephone. To the customer, it’s all the same. They want the most convenient (to them) way to connect to the company and get what they want – quickly and easily.”
Indeed, customer expectations of customer service speed are particularly demanding, with up to 48% of consumers expecting a response to social media questions and complaints within 24 hours. People don’t like to wait for results especially when the time is of the essence.
2. Customer service and marketing efforts intersect more than you think
With consumer interactions bleeding into social media channels, customer service and marketing teams need to work together more often.
Yes, since marketing is the attracting and nurturing of leads to become sales-ready opportunities, delivering exemplary customer service is a natural extension of that process. It can even play a crucial role in driving customer retention. Successfully guiding customers through the customer journey reduces negative reviews, boosts organic customer referrals and loyalty while increasing the probability of active lead generation.
Remember, it costs up to five times more to sell to existing customers than attracting new ones. Loyal customers are also easier to up-sell: the probability of getting loyal customers to buy more from you can be as high as 70%. Conversely, the odds of converting leads to customers plummets to 5%.
Every interaction with the customer becomes a marketing opportunity to show off your brand. Therefore, how customer service teams respond to inquiries or handle issues become opportunities to deepen your customer relationships and build loyalty. Actively monitor your social channels, respond quickly to queries with a healthy dose of empathy.
3. Social media will continue to grow in importance as a critical customer service channel.
Social media is a significant opportunity to show you care for your customers, resolve issues and build your brand. With more consumers using social media channels to interact with brands, voice complaints or airing their views, getting a grip on your social channels will be more important to enhance your quality of customer service offered.
Consider these statistics from social media management platform Sprinklr.
- 80% of consumers use social media to engage with brands online
- 54% of customers prefer social messaging channels for customer care over phone and email
- Customers that receive a timely social response from brands on Twitter spend up to 20% more and are 30% more likely to recommend the brand
- Conversely, failure to respond quickly through social channels can lead to a 15% increase in customer churn rate
- It also costs six times less to resolve customer service issues through social media than email or the phone.
Customer service on social media is rapidly maturing as a viable customer service channel and brands need to examine this area more closely as they develop their customer service strategies in 2019.
4. Offering self-service options is a necessity.
On top of seeing convenience as a priority, customers also want to solve their problems themselves rather than go through the hassle of submitting a support ticket or talking to a service rep.
In a survey by Interactive Intelligence group, “short response time” was ranked more important than efficiency, knowledge, and professionalism. Customers also expect to resolve service issues within the first call.
With 45% of customers likely to abandon an online purchase if they don’t find answers to their questions, how can you address these demands and expectations?
Offering customer self-service may give you a leg up in this area.
Self-service options give your customers the opportunity to figure things out for themselves. With a majority of consumers preferring a self-service knowledge base if available, having one is a quick way to reduce simple customer service inquiries and clarifications, leaving your service reps free to tackle more complex issues.
Some examples of self-service resources:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Knowledge bases
- Self-checkout and comparison options
5. Customers will guard their data privacy more fiercely in 2019
Last year’s backlash against Facebook during the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU shows us consumers are aware of their online data footprint and will guard it tightly.
A survey conducted by Pureprofile highlight a disconnect between what brands think consumers perceive collecting personal data to make data-driven, personalised decisions and what consumers think. Brands thought consumers were entirely on board with brands using consumer data to personalise ads. However, evidence suggests the contrary: internet users are appalled once they understand how companies use their data
While the survey analysed consumer perceptions of digital marketing efforts, these concerns particularly extend to customer service teams. Remember, customer service teams interact with consumers every day while accessing and using their personal information. Consumers will have the right to ask companies how their data is being used and to delete data if they feel uncomfortable at any point.
Prepare your customer service team to deal with such customer requests. They will need to:
- Be familiar with the local data privacy laws and consumer’s rights to privacy
- Know how their business handles privacy data
With the developments we’ve examined, it’s clear that customer service isn’t only about satisfying your customers and answering their questions.
Beyond caring for customers, customer service also influences how likely your customers are likely to stay with you. Beyond that, providing exemplary customer service can turn into a valuable channel for sales and marketing efforts. Quick empathetic responses to customer inquiries remain one of the best ways to show you care.
Moreover, isn’t showing you care about your customers the heart of providing a fantastic customer experience? With Parcel Perform’s customer service toolkit, you’ll be able to pre-empt inquiries and reduce the time and cost handling delivery inquiries with our single customer overview across all your logistics carriers.
About the Author
Dana is the Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Parcel Perform, an innovative global tracking management solution that supports e-commerce merchants & enterprises in managing the complexities of e-commerce logistics and fulfilment.