4 ways to build a robust customer service experience
In part one of my customer service articles, I focused on the monumental, detrimental impact that poor customer service can have on communication and media companies. A 2018 report revealed poor customer service costs companies more than $75 billion per year.
Here, in part two, I’ll discuss ways in which media and communication companies should adjust their customer service strategies to produce more positive results.
Before we dive in, it’s important to recognize how important customer service is. Due to the complexity of offerings and customer channels, customer service has become less personal. However, it is more important than ever to deliver exactly the opposite: Be personal, intentional and in-context about every aspect of your customer service offering.
Fewer consumers today are tied to brand or company loyalty. They have plenty of options for similar services on the market. How a company approaches its customers -- in a hopefully customer-centric business plan -- will ultimately determine how many customers a business attracts and how many they retain.
Here are four ways companies can improve their customer service offering to set them apart from the competition.
1. Make Customer Service a Human Experience
As powerful and beneficial as AI can be, the fact remains that many people like to interact with other humans. If employing bots, remember that it is extremely important to humanize the interactions. A recent Forbes article explores how some bots may be killing the customer service experience. Much can be learned by those bots that do it right. In the Philippines, Globe’s Ask Thea is a great example of a humanized, high-touch concierge approach for platinum-level customers.
Regarding call centers, it’s OK for customers to be greeted on your customer service telephone number by an automated machine that asks them to make a few choices by pressing numbers on their phones. However, minimize the number of steps they must go through to reach an actual customer service representative.
2. Reduce Hold Times and Frustration
Hold times are affected by how long each rep spends on the phone with customers, which is why many media and communications companies push prompt service time. But, if it’s worth spending the extra time to make customers feel special, how can one reduce hold times?
There are a few ways to do so, such as the emerging trend of employing automated callbacks if wait times are over a certain time limit. They come back to one basic premise – investing in customer service. This can be looked at from two angles.
First, invest in the resources necessary to offer the best all-around customer service and support experience. That means providing self-serve channels and information resources such as a robust website with an FAQ page, blogs and/or videos for easy “How Tos,” effective mobile apps, and a live chat feature.
Second, media and communications companies need to ensure they have hired enough customer service reps to operate the call center, which is still the main way customers interact with companies when they need help. While more employees mean a greater outlay of expenses, it’s well worth it in the end once a company establishes itself as the premier customer service and support company in the industry.
Microsoft completed a useful study in 2017 that found 22% of customers are irritated when asked to repeat something already said to the voice-response system or another agent, an easy frustration for companies to avoid. Additionally, 26% of customers are unhappy when representatives don’t have the knowledge or ability to resolve issues; this can be addressed with a fast and easy-to-use Knowledge Management System (KMS), as seen below in point 4. At the very least, an agent’s CRM and desktop tools must have meaningful customer data that can be easily acted upon as necessary.
3. Address All Customer Interactions
It isn’t enough to focus customer care energy, resources, training and investment on just the people in the call centers, though they are critical. Each touchpoint the customer might have with a company is an opportunity for failure – or success.
This means technicians who set up a cable or internet connection, salespeople who walk neighborhoods knocking on doors, and managers at retail stores are as important in the customer service chain as the people who answer the phones in customer call centers.
The first impression is the most important in the eyes of the consumer. Each new interaction with a customer is another opportunity to make a good first impression.
4. Educate Customer Care Agents on All Products
One of the most frustrating experiences a customer has is when he or she has trouble getting a direct answer from customer support, especially if the question is product-related. Customer service representatives should have at least a base knowledge about all products and services the company offers.
When a rep doesn’t know all the details about a specific product that a customer may ask about, he or she should at least know where to go to find more information. The only way the customer service team can have this information, though, is if they are taught.
One good way to ensure this knowledge is learned and retained is to integrate production-information education into the customer service training process. For the first few weeks of training, before new employees work independently, they should be taught and tested on their knowledge of the products.
In addition, they should have a robust Knowledge Management System they can turn to where they get more answers or refresh their memories.
It is incumbent for company leaders to train customer service reps and provide them with all the knowledge they need to do their jobs, which includes how they conduct themselves during customer interactions and how knowledgeable they are about offered products and services.
The steps outlined above are a great beginning. projekt202 is ready to share our vast expertise in creating great experiences in customer care and across all customers’ journeys.
projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software strategy, design and development. We have a unique and established methodology for understanding people in context — we reveal unmet needs — which drives everything we do. This leads to a crisp, clear understanding of the customer, which shapes the design and development of new solutions and experiences. We have the expertise, teams, skills and scale to deliver sophisticated software solutions that improve any and all touchpoints across the user journey.
projekt202 has spent over 15 years bringing to life and to market compelling experiences through our Experience Strategy & Insight, User Experience, Software Development, Marketing & Analytics, and Program Management practices. Our talented team has delivered emotionally-rich and intuitive solutions for global brands and clients such as 7-Eleven, Capital One, Dell, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Neiman Marcus, Samsung Electronics, and The Container Store, among many others.