9 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service
Taking the stand that many companies’ customer service capabilities are lacking, a webinar on the state of customer service in North America focused on how to buck the trend and provide customers with superior customer service. Below are nine of the most usable tips for multichannel merchants offered by Don Muchow, senior solutions consultant at eGain Communications, a software provider for multichannel customer service and knowledge management, and Chip Gliedman, vice president and principal analyst for market research firm Forrester Research, from the event that was co-presented by Muchow’s firm and CRM magazine.
1. Meet consumers at the channel they choose, Muchow said. If you have a customer who prefers to interact over the Web, suggest e-mail as the way to handle customer service issues with that customer.
2. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each interaction channel (phone, Web, e-mail, interactive voice response (IVR), chat, short message service text messages, speech-based IVR, etc.) to determine the best use for each, Gliedman advised. For example, don’t use IVR for product selection, where you may need to provide more than yes/no answers. But this channel is useful for its timeliness and quick response, so consider it for functions that can be handled quickly — such as order status.
3. Define the user goals for various scenarios, Gliedman said. By knowing what customers are trying to accomplish, you can better serve them to reach those goals.
4. Ensure consistency across your business, particularly with live call-center agents, Muchow said. For example, if customers call one agent and get a certain response to a question, they should be able to call back and ask another agent the same question and get the same response. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen often enough with many companies, he noted.
5. Incorporate customer self-service options, Muchow advised. The ease and availability of self-service options on the Web, such as search, frequently asked questions, guided search and many more, are in high demand from consumers looking for quick and easy solutions to their problems.
6. Make it easy to transfer from one customer service channel to another, Gliedman said, such as the ability to transfer from IVR to a live agent. If you send a customer service e-mail, make sure it includes your telephone number so customers have the option to speak with live agents. At the same time, make sure all phone calls provide online options.
7. Be prompt with e-mail. Customers expect e-mail responses from companies within one business day, Gliedman said.
8. Leverage all service areas across all channels, Gliedman advised. Specifically, he suggested that marketers think of the various channels as fingers on one hand — they need to work together and can’t be treated as independent of each other. Take a phone call with a customer that leads to an e-mail, that includes a link that could lead to a live chat, he noted as an example. This integrates most of your channels to help provide the best possible experience and solution for customers.
9. Use rich media when appropriate and only when it delivers a better customer experience. An example of a good use of rich media Muchow pointed to would be where an electronics marketer adds to its site a link of a YouTube video that shows customers how to set up a complicated entertainment center they just bought.