What exactly does it mean to deliver great customer service? Is it enough to handle service requests efficiently and send post-contact surveys to know if the customer was satisfied? Or perhaps it’s important to send occasional marketing emails tailored to the customer’s needs? There are numerous ways to define great service, and the modern landscape of customer service is changing as rapidly as the technologies used to deliver it. Yet one point remains certain: brands must always put customers first, keeping their perspective at all times to deliver what they want. Whereas customer service once entailed a reactive approach to handling customer concerns, brands have taken note that staying a step ahead of the customer through proactive customer service is critical to winning their loyalty.
One method of proactive customer service lies in the use of sophisticated technologies. The rise of the Internet of Things, or IoT, is prompting brands to devise clever ways to reach out to customers before potential issues arise, namely when “smart” objects (physical objects with an Internet connection) are designed to diagnose and communicate problems directly to the manufacturer before an issue actually arises. Brands may deliver proactive service when smart objects’ data are properly analyzed and addressed, saving time for both customers and brands alike. In addition, smart objects make it possible to deliver service faster than real-time, meaning that contact centers may shift their attention to outbound calls as they only need to contact consumers proactively when a technical problem is anticipated rather than waiting for inbound calls. Other technologies such as live chat software further enable customers to connect with a customer service representative in a timely manner. As customers often consult brand websites to look for information and abandon their search when there is no quick answer, live chat is a powerful way to capture the attention of current and potential customers. A live chat popup should include an agent’s introduction while thanking the customer for their interest and asking how the agent may be of assistance. If the customer wishes, the conversation may eventually be moved to another channel when necessary once questions become too complex to handle on this channel.
Brands may also embrace proactive customer service through optimized practices. One critical point is keeping customers informed ahead of time. For example, when delivering a package, brands should let customers know about every step in the delivery process. Details such as tracking numbers and phone numbers to call if there is a concern are all important as well as real-time information such as dates and times of expected delivery. If there’s a delay, customers should be notified ahead of time, not after the delay has occurred. The same is true for all other aspects of customer service interactions. Should there be issues with billing, an anticipated delay when the customer is waiting in a queue, or even scheduled website maintenance that will make the site inaccessible, customers should be informed. Customer feedback surveys are also of great value. Companies may send follow-up surveys to customers after a customer service interaction, or even when a purchase was made without the help of an agent, to determine satisfaction levels. It’s further important to ask for feedback at unexpected intervals, in a way that doesn’t hinder the customer but shows that a company values his or her opinions. For example, sending quarterly online surveys by mail or via social media are generally noninvasive ways of asking for feedback. Retail brands may time these surveys to align with holiday season sales (before or after sales season) to sharpen marketing goals and know where customer service improvements might be made ahead of time. Lastly, offering loyalty rewards and discounts is a great way to show customers that their business is valued as well as their personal tastes. Brands may offer rewards that are determined in advance, such as giving vouchers to customers after a certain amount has been spent or offering a discount on a subsequent purchase. Another option is to inform customers of new packages or deals, which means targeting customers who may already have similar products or services but could benefit from the features of the new ones. Brand recommendations based on customer purchase history and vouchers to simply say “thank you for your business” can go a long way toward fostering brand loyalty.
Proactive customer service means taking a customer-centric approach and giving customers exactly what they want ahead of time. When customers feel they are appreciated, given support in a timely manner, and encouraged to share their feedback, brand loyalty is sure to ensue. Learn about Vocalcom contact center software solutions for excellent customer service .
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