Bad customer service essentially means a bad reputation and people ultimately will feel like they are taking a gamble even if you offer the best prices or product. Most will deem it too much of a risk to do business with you and won’t bother which will reduce down your pool of prospects.
Good customer service has the opposite effect and it increases your pool of prospects because your reputation won’t be at risk.
What do customers really want when they are interacting with a company? The key things that come to mind are:
- Speedy response times to any communication
- Be treated like a human being
- Not be left waiting or their time wasted
- The right information
- Good communication between departments so they don’t have to keep explaining themselves.
The essence is that as customers we want to be heard, valued and dealt with quickly.
Technology plays an important part in customer service as it is a way to enhance and speed up communications between you and your customers.
7 Ways to Improve your Customer Service
Without the right phone system in place, your customer could be annoyed before they even get to speak to you. Historically, you’d have a phone system with an analogue line which if you miss the call, you don’t know you have missed it. You’d have to wait for them to try again.
With the right phone system in place, you’d be using IP technology which gives you access to all kinds of features that mean that you will never miss a call. Here are a few things that you can do with an IP Phone system (hosted or self-hosted):
- Put a limit on rings to an extension before it diverts to another (and select which one it goes to.)
- Tailor out-of-office messages for instance dentists and doctors tend to close for lunch at the same time every day.
- Have users put themselves in “do not disturb” when they are busy, so the call gets directed to another user.
- Put options on the phone that a customer can press to get to the right department.
One of the best things is the ability to produce reports on call statistics so you can see what times you are the busiest and need the most resource so that you reduce call waiting times. With a good phone system, not only can you ensure every call is answered but you can stop your customer from wasting their time going through to multiple people to get the answer they need.
Seems like a strange one to suggest as a way to improve your customers service but a good phone system operates using IP technology which is essentially using the internet; so broadband is imperative.
Your broadband can determine the quality of the call that comes through or if it even drops off altogether. There is no point in having a great phone system if it can’t be used. The customer will be frustrated with the call quality or annoyed if it constantly cuts out which it is unlikely, they will keep calling back.
Unified Communications means that all parts of the business communicate seamlessly and across various technologies.
Let’s say a phone call comes through to a customer service agent but they don’t have the answer, they could use an internal chat facility to speak to someone who would know the answer to either get the answer or see if they are available to answer the call. They don’t even need to be on site. Then notes can be placed on one system from each company representative so that they have a clear record of the multiple conversations.
Unified communications enable seamless good communication between departments (regardless of their location) which again, means the client is dealt with quickly, efficiently and they get the answer they need.
Live Chat / Instant Messaging
There are a few types of live chat that can help improve your customer service by being “available.”
You have the most commonly known live chat facility on a website where a prospect or customer can message your business and it can be answered by anyone with your business. Usually you’d have a certain amount of available people or you can have it linked to a chatbot (see further down the page.)
The less commonly known type of live chat is the one that integrates with your Unified Communications tool. UC tools are seen as a way to improve internal communications which does benefit external parties however, UC does allow those tools to be used externally. For instance, you can start a conversation using the IM feature with a customer perhaps about an ongoing project, they’ll be able to communicate with you without delay because it will show your availability status.
Not all of your staff will be based at a fixed location. Most businesses have staff, particularly sales staff that travel around and its important that they are available to answer questions, should a customer ring.
Depending on your phone system, you can have an app put on your mobile which allows it to operate as your desk phone which means it will display your business phone number not a mobile number. Of course, you’ll need a mobile with strong connectivity. One of the mobile plans we use called Multi-Net, means that your mobile will switch between multiple networks to get the best signal for you to use your mobile.
Additionally, when used in conjunction with a Unified Communications tool, your team can respond on-the-go via IM, have customer appointments put in their calendars, set status (busy/available/in meeting) and share documents.
So much more than the latest buzzword, chatbots are fast becoming integrated into the customer service journey.
Imagine you are testing a new tool online, struggling to find the bit that you need, and there is a little icon that looks like a chat button. You press it and start a conversation with a tech specialist. Do you think it’s a real person? Sometimes it is but often, it’s a chatbot.
A chatbot operates on a set of parameters whilst using their Artifical Intelligence (AI) to interpret what you are saying, what you mean or want, to respond in a “human” way.
This means the user gets their answer quickly and it doesn’t waste any “man-hours.”
Face to face is the best way to build or enhance a relationship with a prospect/customer but it isn’t always possible, video conferencing is the next best thing. Of course, you need to ensure you have the right equipment in place to ensure it is a good experience.
Depending on how you are going to use video conferencing would depend on what equipment you might need. If you are going to do video conferencing but with more than a few people, then there is some physical hardware you’d need such as an IP TV as well as an appropriate conference call phone. Should it be on a smaller scale, you could use your Unified communications tool as most have a video conference call feature built in.