What are the customer service trends to keep an eye on as the new year approaches? From new support channels to the types of team members you should be hiring, review an outline of the latest in the industry.
I. BE PROACTIVE
Customer Service generally encompasses reactive behaviors – assisting customers with questions, issues and requests. However, the best teams in the business know how to be proactive problem solvers.
“Accenture revealed that 89% of customers feel frustrated having to explain their issues to numerous representatives. And the only way to avoid this is literally reading the thoughts of your customers and handing them the solution before they ask,” from nicereply.com.
While surveys and customer feedback provide valuable insights, reacting to those comments may be too late to retain and impress today’s consumers. Without “mind reading,” how can teams attempt to be more proactive?
Take Ownership of Quality Control with your Team
Discuss issues and what works with your internal CSR teams rather than burdening customers with numerous surveys and insight collecting tools. While surveys still provide valuable research, customers crave convenience and often have the mentality of “Know what I need before I have to ask.” If your team currently sends out quarterly customer service surveys, try switching to an annual one and replace with quarterly CSR Research Sessions.
Questions for your team might include:
- “What would make daily business transactions easier with us?”
- “What is the most reliable part of doing business with us?”
- “What is the least reliable part of doing business with us?”
- “Describe some instances when a problem was handled effectively by our team.”
- “Describe some instances where we have fallen short on customer service.”
By looking for patterns, you can make procedural changes and anticipate future problems in a proactive manner.
The most successful customer service representatives should view their role as “advocate” instead of “representative.” The word advocate is synonymous with “believer,” “promoter,” “supporter,” and “activist.” The more active a representative in fighting for the customers’ needs, the more they can help to shift the business into one that exceeds expectations.
While there may be pushback from your internal teams “we can’t make that deadline,” “that’s an unreasonable request,” “we’re not magicians, here,” it’s the CSRs responsibility to walk the tightrope between the two to save the project and retain future business.
By advocating for the customer with the requirements and capabilities of the company in mind, CSRs can help educate their team on how to prevent future issues, how to be proactive and how to shift company procedures to benefit other customers.
II. PRIORITIZE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX)
“Consumers expect highly personalized shopping experiences from retailers and are willing to spend more money when brands deliver targeted recommendations,” Nextiva.com. “71% of consumers are frustrated by impersonal experiences. So, it’s clear that personalized customer service increase profits.”
Role Play: Pretend Your Business is a Luxury Resort
Your business might be the farthest thing from a Ritz-Carlton, but any business can learn from one of the best. The Ritz-Carlton brand is known for offering the highest-level of customer service for a few distinct reasons that companies can apply no matter what industry category they fall in.
The Power of Empowered Team Members:
Ritz-Carlton employees are trained and empowered to deal with problems directly – spending up to $2000 to make resort guests happy. While this model doesn’t work for every business, the empowerment to solve problems on the spot can be translated in any industry.
Beyond problem solving, Ritz-Carlton also encourages the team to educate one another about positive experiences through education. Team members can empower one another to create positive, memorable experiences through the sharing of success stories (Forbes.com).
Determine what “luxury service” or a “top customer experience” looks like from your team:
Successful brands focus on CX with a specific set of standards and provide consistent products and services. In the luxury resort example, they might offer high-quality toiletries, smooth check-ins, daily turndown service and a “one-push” button for any questions or requests. Resort guests feel fully taken care of and catered to at each portion of their stay.
What might some of these higher-end services or experiences look like for your company? What are some reasonable “above-and-beyond” extras that you can offer clients without significant cost?
III. CONVENIENT SUPPORT CHANNELS
Should you use an omnichannel or multichannel support system? Is old-school telephone answering enough, or does your business need to invest in a high-tech system? According to and article on Forbes.com, customers could care less about the terminology, they just want convenient support.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 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 just want the most convenient (to them) way to connect to the company and get what they want – quickly and easily.”
What is the most effective way to offer support? The delivery method should be a blend of self-starter and traditional support channels. No matter what channel or channels the customer chooses, they should be able to locate the it easily on a website and feel that it serves their individualized need.
“One of the most common handoffs between channels is customers moving from self-service to contacting a human. Making this transition as simple as possible is key to completing the omnichannel experience,” FreshDesk.com.
Self-Starter Support Channels
- Chat-Bots (AI and algorithms used to answer questions)
- Live-Chat Software (human support through digital channels)
- Detailed Help or FAQ Page on your website
- Support Articles with step-by-step problem-solving solutions
- Tutorial or Demo Videos
- Social Media comments and messaging
Traditional Support Channels
- Phone Support
- Email Support
- Online Support Ticket System
IV. TAKE CONTROL AND HIRE “CONTROLLERS”
Harvard Business Review’s study of customer service representative types determined seven different personalities that might make up a CSR team. While a well-rounded team can provide balance, a structured, well-planned group of personalities can mean all the difference for customer retention.
- The Controller – outspoken, directs customers with their expertise
- The Rock – optimistic, handles difficult situations well
- The Accommodator – eager to provide solutions, meets people halfway
- The Empathizer – looks for ways to understand customer behaviors, likes problem solving
- The Hard Worker – rule follower, likes deadlines and goals
- The Innovator – generates new ideas and ways to improve processes
- The Competitor – likes changing views and outperforming others
While HR directors across the study preferred to hire empathizers, controllers performed best in terms of customer service. They provide clear guidance and allow customers to make decisions more easily than their counterparts. The study mentions that brands scoring in the top quartile of the “decision simplicity index” are 85% more likely to be purchased by consumers.
“As the problems reps deal with have become more complicated, Controllers have turned out to be the best problem solvers. Not only do they proactively diagnose customer issues, but they also consider the customer’s personality and the context of the call in order to customize a solution and present it effectively. Controllers focus less on asking customers what they’d like to do and more on telling them what they should do—the aim always being to get to the fastest and easiest resolution.”
How can a business attract controllers? HBR recommends positioning the job applicant as the primary point of contact for the customer, focusing on customer relationships and owning problems from start to finish. They should also describe the ideal candidate as a self-starter and offer a fast-paced work environment. Additionally, highlight options for training and certifications.
Vivid Impact’s robust Customer Service Team brings a world-class, customer-centric approach to handling complex print projects and visual marketing campaigns. Contact our team to learn more about working with Vivid!