Customer service is the cornerstone of any business. Many companies pride themselves on having excellent customer service and integrate it as a core value. However, it is the general consensus that customer service is limited to shop assistants, telephone operators and receptionists. You’re probably aware that you can use many things in the online world that will improve your customer interactions, but where to start?
Let’s start with something you’re obviously going to be familiar with. Email. The long standing staple of the digital world. The first thing you probably did when you first encountered the internet was either do a Google search or send an email.
There are two sides to using email to improve your customer service. You can use it as a point of contact for clients or customers, and you can use email marketing to send regular newsletters.
Here are some really quick and easy pointers to using email to improve customer service.
When emailing clients and customers, try to be as personal as possible. It depends on your industry and brand but when setting up email accounts, try to use names in the email name. For example, the Statement team all use their [email protected] From a customer or client perspective, it can make their email experience a lot more personal and they can feel that they are having a much more tailored conversation than if they had received an email from [email protected] This is one only to be considered if it’s in keeping with your brand. If you have hundreds of employees who respond to customers often, then this might not be a strategy for you to use. But you should definitely consider implementing this if you’re the owner of a small business who wants to improve customer interactions.
One other thing you should do is keep track of how much time it takes between customers sending an email, and when they receive a reply. Obviously if they have to wait weeks for a reply, your customer service is pretty poor. Respond as soon as possible, there is no time that is “too quick” for a customer, although ensure that the information you are going back to your customer with is helpful. An immediate response that doesn’t make your customer feel as though they’ve made any progress with their enquiry can be as disappointing as a delayed response.
Email signatures are the sections at the bottom of an email which usually have the respondent’s name, company name and logo, telephone numbers and social media links. Having all of this information up-to-date and formatted in a clear, consistent and simple way can also improve your customers’ experience.
When using email to contact customers and clients, do they have clear access to an email address that they can reply to? You could have a general email address in the footer of your email or on your ‘contact’ page. But another option to consider is integrating a message box into your website.
If users visit your website and want to contact you, it can be easier for them to input some brief information in a message box. If you force your users to copy your email address, open their email account, compose a new message, paste in your email address etc., it can take far more time. Add a message box to your website to streamline the enquiry process!
If you prefer to have telephone conversations with clients instead of using email, great! You can use a message box once again, but instead of using it with the indication that you will email back, use it in a way that customers can expect somebody to call them back instead.
Have brief options such as name, contact number, best time to call, and then maybe a drop down menu with the nature of the phone call. Somebody on your team can then quickly call back and have a more personal conversation. The other reason a drop down menu is helpful is it saves the customer spending too long explaining their query, only to be frustrated if you need them to explain it again in a telephone conversation.
Some users may not like phone calls, and they might think that email is a little old-fashioned and takes too much time. More and more websites are using a live chat feature and if you’re a bigger company, this might be something for you to consider.
However, pop up chat boxes can look ‘spammy’ and a bit in-your-face, so they need to be designed in a way that looks natural within your website and also doesn’t keep the user waiting a long time for replies. Live Chat is to be used as a quicker and easier way to contact, so treat it that way. Some big companies like Schuh use live chat and live help really efficiently, but it’s only one to consider if you think you staff will be able to handle the ‘instant’ nature of it.
You may already have social media profiles to aid your business. If you are using it as a tool for customer service, it can be great resource. If a customer or client tweets or comments with a question or enquiry, make sure to respond in a timely manner. Just as with email, if you take days to respond, it can look unprofessional. The user has already probably found the answer to their question by the time they have received a reply from you. Also, if a customer simply praises your product or service, be sure to ‘like’, ‘retweet’ or ‘favourite’ the comment just to add a level of personality and engagement. Read our how to humanise your brand on social media blog post or watch our video on the same topic.
Sometimes a user doesn’t want to contact somebody on your team, but that shouldn’t stop you from answering any questions they may have. Add an FAQ page to your website and answer any questions that are simple enough to answer with a generic statement but also are asked often enough to be put on there. An FAQ page can even help slightly with search engine optimisation (SEO) as users will search on Google or Yahoo! with their question and your page may be included in the results.
The user experience is usually at the forefront of any web design, and customer service should be a part of that. If you need any further help with web design, email marketing or social media - don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Image Credits: Viktor Hanacek
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