3 Customer Service Tactics to Help Increase Sales
In a session at this month's Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, Paul Holstein, vice president of CableOrganizer.com, an online retailer of cable, wiring and equipment management products, listed three ways that retailers can use feedback from their customers to better their operations.
“The smartest person in your company is the customer,” said Holstein, “but many companies view customer service as an expense — often outsourced.” Retailers need to realize that every customer interaction is a marvelous opportunity, he added.
While a lot of consumers will experience problems on your website, only a tiny fraction of them will contact you with their problem. They'd rather not invest the time. Therefore, it's incumbent upon retailers to make every customer complaint actionable. Build rapport with your customers, Holstein said, by getting to know them, like them and trust them. Here are three ways Holstein provided on how retailers should listen to their customers, as well as some tips to help them do it effectively.
1. Listen when they're talking naturally. Do this in the following ways:
- put your 1-800 number on your website;
- eliminate auto-attend for phone calls in favor of answering them with a live person;
- don't send emails to customers from nonresponse email addresses;
- allow customers to be transferred to a supervisor;
- use Tealeaf or a comparable customer experience management resource to watch random consumers’ online interactions with your brand;
- monitor your helpdesk system;
- set up Google Alerts to know when people are talking about your company;
- follow Twitter;
- look at Better Business Bureau complaints;
- monitor inbound links; and
- check product reviews and chat logs.
2. Look for unusual metrics. Pay attention to indirect messages, Holstein said. How can you tell if your website is relevant? Check out your bounce rates. Want to know how effective your site navigation is? Look at the number of times your product categories are searched internally. Determine if your FAQs’ section is complete by looking at customer emails to see what they're asking. If you find a common question that isn't in your FAQs, add it. Here are some more metrics that retailers need to concern themselves with, as well as how to find them:
- Overly complicated paths? Crawl your site.
- Too many broken links? Check your 404 error messages.
- Are your big customers still satisfied? Take a look at your accounts receivable. If they're not satisfied, more than likely they're late with payment.
- How can you determine which pages are failing? Take a look at your exit rates.
3. Ask them. Surveys only tell what responding customers think, said Holstein. Another reason why he's not a fan of surveys? You risk hassling everyone on your list for low response rates, and the results are rarely actionable. If you must use a survey, make sure not to ask for respondents’ names — it'll help drive up response.
Holstein prefers usability studies as a tool to learn more about your customers. Don't use random people, but find people in your industry. And every department in your organization should track these studies, he said. In addition to usability studies, eye-tracking software may be worth the investment as a feedback-generating tool. Here are a couple of other ideas Holstein suggested retailers trying:
- When attending trade shows, don't give away tchotchkes for free. Create a landing page and ask for contact information in exchange for a free gift.
- Ask for suggestions with a suggestion page on your website.