There has been a sizeable amount of debate going around on whether or not technology has made us – and continues to make us – distant and impersonal in our communications. This much is clear: consumers expect a higher level of customer service, even (and especially) in the online retail space. Online customer support has become the norm. How can your business, then, differentiate itself from the pack. The answer lies in going the extra mile and personalizing the customer experience. In other words, to make them go WOW! Here are 3 ways that you can start to personalize your online customer service.
Case in point: a YouTube video (released sometime last year) that showed just how addicted we are to online interaction on our various mobile devices went viral in a matter of days. Many people left comments admitting their addiction and vowed to disconnect once in a while.
On the other hand, statistics have shown that most people actually feel that mobile technology is largely helpful – 76% of them, according to a survey conducted by Qualcomm. In fact, when it comes to making purchases online, consumers are almost unanimous in their approval of online customer support – 83% of them said they needed some sort of support during their online journey, failing which, 48% of them would jump ship and find a competitor.
1.Value their time
According to Forrester data, 71% of US adult consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company could do to provide good customer service.
This is not surprising, given that the bulk of customer service complaints revolve around being transferred from agent to agent like a football, and being made to listen to lounge music in the meantime.
How can you or your customer success manager help save the customer’s time? One way to do this is to have all your customers’ data made readily available for instant access. Get into the shoes of the customer in question by pulling up all the information needed about him/her – previous experiences with the company, products or services bought, whether he/she is married or not, and so on.
By doing so, you can not only pre-empt any issues that the customer might have, but also connect with him/her on a personal level.
Takeaway: Ensure that the information needed to make the customer experience as quick and painless as possible is readily available.
2.Empower your Customer Success Manager
I believe that, deep down inside, your customer success manager truly desires to give customers the time of their lives, or at least make them happy. However, after weeks and months of being on the job and facing the limitations of the goals and rules that bind them, these desires will likely be buried under feelings of impotence and sheer boredom.
Instead, we often encounter managers who simply want to get you in and out of their system as soon as possible without regard for how you felt. How can we encourage and motivate our customer success manager to revive their inner Santa Claus again? The answer: empower them to do so.
Managers usually set guidelines and targets that customer service reps need to hit, and these are usually results-oriented, such as “Serve 50 customers a day”. Naturally, they end up doing just that – nothing more, nothing less.
Zappos takes a different tact by measuring the success of their customer service representatives using four factors on a 100-point scale called the “Happiness Experience Form”:
- Did the agent try twice to make a personal emotional connection (PEC)?
- Did they keep the rapport going after the customer responded to their attempt?
- Did they address unstated needs?
- Did they provide a “wow experience?”
Notice anything different? Each of these factors are clearly relationship-oriented, with a focus on building a connection with the customer – no matter what it takes.
And boy, do they deliver! I’m sure I don’t have to go into the numerous Zappos customer success stories (here’s a list), but we know for sure that Zappos has got it right.
Takeaway: Empower your customer success manager to do whatever it takes to wow the customer, and he/she will do it.
3.Get serious about Social Customer Service
What would you do if your parcel from an online store got delayed for yet another week (following an initial delay of a week)? A decade ago, you would have sat there and stewed, and possibly picked up your phone and ranted to your best friend.
Today, it is more likely that you would hop onto social media and rant to the millions of people in the online world. In fact, many customers now take their complaints directly to company Twitter and Facebook accounts, demanding for quick responses and follow-ups – 42% of them expect a 60-minute response time. Talk about high expectations!
Unfortunately, about 70% of customer service complaints on Twitter go unanswered, according to a study by evolve24. The surprising thing is, this study was done back in 2011, but experts believe that the percentage hasn’t changed significantly since. Quite a shocker, especially since 99% of brands are on Twitter!