Let’s talk about customer service for a bit. These days it’s all about instant gratification. Is a customer angry about something you did or didn’t do? They’d better have a way to communicate it to your business immediately. Are you trembling at this moment because you have no idea what I’m talking about? Fear not! We have this article by Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily that can explain modern customer service.
3 Ways Customer Service Has Changed (And How to Adapt)
Customer service used to be fairly simple. For the most part, you just had to be friendly and helpful to the people you did business with, and if someone wasn’t happy, you dealt with the problem and that was the end of it.
While the basic goal of keeping customers satisfied is still at the heart of customer service, there’s a lot more to it nowadays than doling out smiles and fielding the occasional angry phone call. Social media and mobile technology have enabled constant connectivity, giving customers 24/7 access to public forums in which they can talk — or complain — about your company. Only organizations that are willing to adapt and respond to this shift in business-consumer dynamics will survive.
Current business leaders and customer service experts shared their thoughts on how the landscape of customer care has changed, and where it’s headed as technology and communication continue to evolve.
Customers are in control — and that’s how it will stay.
Smart business leaders know that customers are now in the driver’s seat when it comes to public brand perception. Nothing a company does will stay hidden for long — the Internet has given consumers a powerful voice, and they’re not afraid to use it.
In the past, “If a customer had a problem with a product or company, there wasn’t much they could do about it,” said Robert Johnson, president and CEO of customer service software company TeamSupport. “Today, of course, social media and product review sites mean that a person can let the entire world know about a poor experience. We’ve all seen Yelp reviews, YouTube videos and posts on social media lambasting brands. This type of consumer empowerment has only existed in the past few years.”
“You can’t treat people badly anymore,” added Alex Bäcker, CEO and co-founder of queue management solution QLess. “People no longer stand for [waiting] in line, being on hold or having their time wasted.”
Consumer empowerment also means that customer expectations about when and how they communicate with brands are incredibly high. It’s not enough to provide a “business hours only” phone number or email address for customer support — you need to be where consumers are, right when they need you. [The New Customer Service Is Here, There & Everywhere]
“You can no longer segment yourself to service practices that only you are comfortable with,” said AmirZonozi, chief strategy officer of social influencer engagement platform Zoomph. “When a customer reaches out to you on Twitter, it needs to be solved on Twitter. When they reach out to you via email, it needs to be solved via email. Asking your customers to switch their preferred method of communication is taking your customer out of their comfort zone and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.”
Quick, personalized responses on social media will continue to be a service benchmark.
Social media can be a blessing for businesses that use it well, and a curse for those that don’t. But love it or hate it, it’s here to stay as a customer service channel, and your business had better get on board if you want to keep up with consumer demands. Ignoring customer comments, whether positive or negative, won’t stop people from posting them, and this approach could even damage your reputation more than any product issue or poor experience.
“Embrace social media as an opportunity to not only directly connect with your customer, but to publicly demonstrate your ability to quickly respond to your clients with outstanding service,” Zonozi told Business News Daily. “Every business makes mistakes, but what differentiates great customer care is when the public can see a response that really solves a problem and shows your dedication to individual experiences. People care more about you mastering the response than they do about the mistake or issue itself.”
Simon Chkifati, co-founder of Luxor Limousines, agreed, noting that successful companies have to be literate in all social media channels and know how to productively handle complaints on any of them. This means offering a personalized, relevant response to every customer inquiry.
“Generic responses to customer issues are no longer effective because customers now expect a more tailored approach,” Chkifati said. “Customers who feel cared for will use your service again and ultimately become advocates, recommending your service via word of mouth, both online and in the real world.”
Collaboration will be the key to improving service.
When done right, collaboration is a business’s best friend. It allows people to connect from practically anywhere in the world to brainstorm, share and execute great ideas that drive the company forward. The same principle can and should be applied to customer service, both among the various departments in an organization, and between businesses and their customers, experts say.
Johnson noted that anyone in the company dealing with a customer issue should be able to efficiently share information, and have that customer’s history and previous experiences right at their fingertips. The right tech tools ensure that knowledge moves quickly and that solutions are recorded for future reference, in case the issue arises in the future. He also said that helping customers solve their own issues will be an approach that begins to take hold in the near future.
“Customers increasingly want the ability to help themselves, and we see more and more companies implementing self-service strategies,” Johnson said. “If done correctly, customer self-service can be a great ‘win-win’ where the customer gets the answers they need at a lower cost to the company. The Holy Grail of self-service is if you can get a robust customer community put together which allows customers to talk with each other and even solve each other’s problems.”
No matter what industry you’re in, it’s more worth it than ever to invest the necessary time and resources into providing the best possible customer service. Any and all interactions today have the potential to be a lasting record of how your company treats its customers — and it’s in your best interest to make that record be a good one.
“A bad customer experience gets broadcast for all to see online — not just today, but for years, if not forever,” Bäcker said. “Likewise, a great customer experience becomes an online beacon attracting customers far and wide for a long time.”
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