“My advice for 2020 is simple: Focus on your service teams. Take care of them. Invest in them. Empower them.” -Ying Chen, General Manager, Service Hub at Hubspot.
This year, businesses have had to pivot several times in order to keep their customers happy and their bottom lines in check. Never has stellar customer service been more important than this year.
Last week, I talked a little bit about two businesses that had kept customers engaged throughout 2020: Wendy’s and Dunkin’. This week, I want to dive a little bit deeper into the cornerstones of excellent customer service and how they can still be implemented from a distance or in person as cities and states shift between reopening and maintaining social distancing.
Poll results like this one from the Washington Post released earlier this year at the onset of the pandemic suggested that as high as a third of Americans were showing signs of anxiety or depression, higher than the usual number.
With a generally more anxious group of customers, there is even more patience and consideration that should go into how we interact with them. So let’s start with the basics.
Empower Your Customer Service Team
We’ve talked about this before with customer service, but if you haven’t already, then now is definitely the time to give your Customer Service team the authority to answer as many questions as possible that your customers may have.
Consider this: when everyone in your business is working together in person, it is easier for customer service agents to ask for help when tricky situations arise.
From a distance, there can be a delay. A Customer Service agent may be asked a question on a call from their home. The situation the customer has is new to them and they do not have the resources they need to problem solve.
Call their manager. E-mail their manager. Or message their manager on a platform like Slack, hoping that their manager isn’t occupied with another task.
Why is this important?
Because the clock is ticking.
A study done by Arise found that customers will wait on hold for 2 minutes before hanging up. That means that being able to act swiftly is key to keeping customers on the phone and happy while you are answering a question for them.
If you haven’t already, develop a catalog online that contains all of your companies’ policies for various scenarios that could arise. Advise your Customer Service agents to look to the catalog first before reaching out to management for additional help. Someone in management should update this database from time to time to make sure that all information is up-to-date.
For small businesses, this could be as simple as creating a shared Google Drive folder with various folders outlining different scenarios.
This way, your Customer Service agent feels comfortable and qualified to answer questions and your customer is more likely to stay on the call.
Dedicate Time Every Day to Social Media
If you haven’t started interacting with customers every day on social media, now is the time to do so.
A recent study released by Business Insider reports an increase in social media usage by most demographics this year as people are spending more time at home. Instagram saw the most increase in likes, comments, and direct messages sent.
Take a look at your business’s social media pages.
Are you mostly posting content? Great. Are people responding to that content? Also, great. Are you responding to them?
Recently, I was able to initiate, process, and complete a return for an item that I bought online through J.Crew’s Instagram account. This service was great for me because my home store was not yet open. As we move closer to Fall and Winter, now could be the perfect time to make sure your social media pages are prepared to process things that normally could only be done in person.
I’ve got some easy steps to consider.
Pick A Team Member to Login to Your Business’s Social Media Daily
Don’t just pick a random team member or the youngest person on site.
Ask around and see who would be willing to put in some work, research good social media habits and strategies, and interact with every customer question or comment that comes up over the course of a day.
Social media pages that thrive are not just magically created, they take time, effort, and patience.
Take an Audit of What Social Media Content You Currently Have
After this person has been selected, have them take a look at all of the content that has been posted on your social media pages and learn from the most successful posts.
What times of day have gotten the most engagement from your audience?
When has your business received the most inquiries about your services from a social media post?
Start small with this step and then build from there. In order to grow your presence and following, you have to know what the people want.
Consider How You Can Offer Returns, Exchanges, or Samples Online
Does your business have a trademark offering in store? Have you thought about how to bring that online?
Maybe you can process a return online. Have customers send you a message on Twitter or Facebook to get the conversation started. Or maybe offering these services on the phone makes more sense for your demographic.
Do you offer samples or a trial period for your product in store? Do the same thing online! There may be added costs in the transfer, but with the growing digital presence of all consumers, the cost will pay off in the long run.
Inch by Inch is a cinch. Yard by Yard is too hard.
When I was little, my dad used to tell me this all the time and I did not fully appreciate it until recently.
It can be overwhelming to think of changing your business to be online overnight. However, taking things an ‘inch’ at a time is a great way to ease into the online world of digital marketing for your product or service. If you try to take too much on all at once, it will be too hard.
Providing customers with an extraordinary experience will keep them coming back for more, especially when you can provide that experience from a distance online.