5 Ways to Make Your Customer Service Real-Time

Time is everything in customer service, but just how timely does your brand need to be? If you consider the statistics, the faster the better. Forrester Research found that 77% of U.S. adults online claim that valuing their time is the most important thing a brand could do to provide strong service. And let’s not forget the demands of social media: According to Social Media Research, 75% of customers who contact a brand for support on social channels expect a response within an hour. So what key message can your brand take away from this? In short, keeping customers waiting can lead to churn, making the brands that deliver real-time service the true winners in customer experience. Here are five ways to make your service real-time for optimal customer experiences.

Take a proactive approach

Being a step ahead of your customers enables optimal real-time service. Get to know which channels are most frequently used, at what times, and for what purposes. As you better understand your customers’ habits, you can then identify, for example, which channels need more staffing, which recurring issues have yet to be resolved, and which agents are best suited to specific roles. In addition, using real-time analytics may be used to empower agents to deliver proactive service before issues even arise or customers request help. By taking proactive measures, your brand can better deliver true real-time service.

Empower self-service

Giving customers optimized self-service options is a prime way to get their issues resolved in real-time. A Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report found that 90% of customers expect a brand to offer a self-service portal, with 60% having a more positive view of brands that offer self-service on mobile devices. Offer customers options such as visual IVR menus, prioritized callbacks, and FAQs lists on your brand website to ensure that they can find real-time answers when they need them most.

Centralize customer data

Perhaps the most critical tool for contact center agents is a centralized customer database. If your agents do not have access to real-time customer information, your customers simply won’t get real-time service. CRM software is therefore essential to allowing agents to access up-to-date customer data as conversations take place while also enabling them to make updates in real-time. Such a database can also foster easier communications across agents in the contact center, so customers that need to be re-routed do not have to repeat information.

Be accessible 24/7

Being available to customers 24/7 may seem like a difficult or even impossible task, but it’s truly vital to offering real-time service. Strong omnichannel brands are connected 24/7 to customers in one way or another, even if it means simply ensuring access to FAQs or enabling purchases online at all times. Ideally, your brand should offer live support via channels such as voice, social media, or chat 24/7 through remote agents who can answer customers whenever needed. But if this isn’t truly possible for your brand, maximize the information provided in FAQs and automated voice menus and clearly indicate the hours when live support is available.

Respond in real-time

Real-time responses are always best, even if it means acknowledging a customer request until a detailed response is provided. As a general rule, social media, SMS, and chat responses should be given within the hour, email should be acknowledged within 24 hours, and voice should be optimized so that if an agent is not immediately available, a callback option is offered. In all instances, make sure that customers are provided meaningful information when they are not connected immediately to a live agent. For example, acknowledge customer emails and text messages with an automatic receipt confirmation, and provide clear information about when they should expect a response. But remember that live real-time responses are always most appreciated, so your brand should strive to deliver as swiftly as possible. In our fast-paced modern world, customers expect better than adequate service. By providing seamless real-time experiences that acknowledge and respect your customers’ time, your brand is far more likely to win their loyalty.

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