Maximizing Value While Lowering Costs to Customer Service
The lifeblood of any business is its customers. Without them, there is no business to speak of. For this reason, a good business should invest in excellent customer service as its every aspect should be about the customer and retaining them.
Are your customers happy about your product? Are they satisfied with your service? How can you better serve them? Customer service should be all eyes and ears for these sentiments and handle them appropriately.
However, many businesses make the mistake of scrimping on customer service. It’s a costly notion and a needless expense, rather than an extension of sales and marketing and therefore integral to success. This mindset has to change. There are many ways to deliver excellent customer service without burning a hole in the company finances. Here are some things to consider:
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1. Hiring the right people
In setting up a customer service department, great care must be taken to screen the right person for the job. Making a mistake will be a huge expense–in opportunity lost, in training costs wasted, and in time squandered. Cost savings is realized upon hiring of the right person, one with not just the right educational background and experience but also one with the right attitude: “Customers come first, and making them happy is top priority.”
2. Investing in training
When you have the right people, they have to be equipped with proper training. Good customer service is more than about technique or skill, it is also about mindset. Your people have to see and know that customer service isn’t just some department’s mantra but a company’s culture. Training is selling the philosophy of service as well as building commitment to serve the company for a good period so that the investment is money well spent. The right training will reap you rewards many times over.
3. Using the right tools and technology
The right person with training but without the proper tools is like a toothless lion. Tools are not about equipment; it’s about the right technology used effectively. The hyperspeed advances in Internet technology have allowed for tools that are accessible, easy to use, and cheap. These tools lend very well to customer service. Here are some of the best examples:
A. Social Media
There’s the number one social media network Facebook; there’s Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and many others. They’re free to set up. They add much value as customers can get in touch with you easily and you have equal ease to respond. It is said that social media is the new “hotline number”. Your customers are already captive audience within your network, and you can get direct and general sentiments that you can act on.
Customers already love being in these social media channels, and when you have grown your fanbase, it becomes a matter of engaging your customers with content they’d appreciate, promos they’ll love and a responsiveness they will notice. Talk with them, chat with them, message and provide them content that helps them and/or amuses them. Take part in conversations and use that opportunity to listen and be of service.
Like social media, emails are a great way to reach out to your customers. There also has to be a conscious and well-designed plan to capture your customers’ emails and make use of that to give them value they would otherwise take for granted.
There are various mass email sending platforms with cheap subscription rates. Most of these platforms offer ways to analyze email data: which emails are being read, effective copywriting, what are the demographics of your customers, etc. Mine these data, do A/B testing, and adjust your email communications accordingly. Your mailing list is your goldmine: protect and grow it intelligently, and watch your business prosper.
C. Live Chat Support
This is a feature you can add to your website that allows customers to chat in real time with your customer service personnel. Any moment your customers experience a “pain point” within your site (e.g. a difficulty or a query), someone can guide and provide them the answer.
It is comforting for customers knowing there is an agent they can talk to at the precise moment they need it. They become less intimidated by your site and more courageous, say, of making a purchase. This saves you costs, as responsive and helpful personnel behind the live chat eliminates or minimizes further investment in call center operations.
D. Virtual Agents
As opposed to live chats, virtual agents are automated software that perform the tasks of a human agent. This software is programmable to answer FAQs and perform specific tasks. This provides even more customer service cost savings as your only investment is the initial cost of software.
Granted, nothing beats talking to an actual human agent, but for many businesses, a virtual agent is sufficient to address customer service concerns at a fraction of a live human counterpart. It is good value to the company and is definitely a viable alternative.
The primary goal of most businesses is the same: to make customers happy, as that’s what translates to profit. Ultimately, achieving this is about intelligently investing in people and technology in order to make customer service efforts efficient, effective and rewarding.