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How to Provide Great Online Customer Service: 10 Best Practices

Category: B2B News
How to provide great customer service?

Providing great customer service means meeting and surpassing customer expectations. It entails consistently undertaking a number of best practices. These include being an expert on products your company sells, having a deep knowledge of your clients, providing a personalized touch, always keeping your word, and earmarking adequate resources for customer support.

Keeping customers happy nowadays is becoming far more difficult than before. Consumer expectations continue to go beyond the roof, so it’s really difficult keeping up with them. However, to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, providing great customer service is key.

Customer service simply means aligning what you do with what your customers expect. But as customer expectations continue to grow, businesses must be able to deliver acceptable service standards. We’ve scoured the internet to identify these 10 best customer service practices that truly live up to customer expectations.

How to Provide Great Online Customer Service

What is great customer service?

Customer service is all about matching customer expectations. The rule of thumb is that it’s better to exceed than go below what they anticipate from you. While these expectations tend to differ across businesses, the basic rule remains the same.

For instance, customers expect employees assisting them to provide the correct answers to their questions. In fact, 80% of American consumers consider speed, convenience and knowledgeable help as very important.

What People Value Most in Customer Experience 2018

Source: PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2018.

Customer service affects every customer, both current and potential ones.

On one hand, bad experiences in today’s wired world travel unbelievably faster than before: 68% of unsatisfied customers would share their experience over a social network.

On the other hand, many people are willing to shell out more cash for better customer experience. Likewise, providing friendly customer service is the key to loving a brand.

More happy customers mean higher sales, increased market share, and better profits. And to help ensure you keep your eye on the ball, it’s best that you use only the most effective customer service solutions.

Here are 10 of the best examples of great customer services practices for your business:

How to Provide Great Online Customer Service

1. Know what you’re selling

Knowledge is power. Every business must first know what it’s selling to provide good customer service. All employees–especially customer-facing staff–must know what they’re selling, extensively. They must know your products or services inside and out so they can answer questions confidently.

Customer support agents should be a product expert, nothing less. 46% of consumers will abandon a brand if they encounter agents who aren’t well-informed of their products. Extensive knowledge should be counted as mandatory customer service skill.

Love your own

Preferably, all employees should believe in the company’s products or service. They should be able to smartly discuss use cases and features. Employees should be able to clearly show how your customers can benefit from them, including what to do when issues arise.

Knowledgeable customer service drives 54% of purchase decisions

Always empower your employees with smart tools and easily accessible product or service information. To ensure that your teams are well-prepared and well-equipped to quickly resolve customer concerns, it’s best to use efficient customer service tools.

Mismatch between customer expectations and how employees deliver

Employees have a significant impact on customer experience

46%

Consumers will abandon a brand if employees are not knowledgeable

38%

U.S. consumers say the employees they interact with understand their needs

46%

Consumers outside the U.S. have interacted with knowledgeable employees

Source: PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2018

Designed by

2. Know your customers

Remarkable customer interactions start with knowing what they really want. Aside from great products or services, they love personalization. So you should get to know them more.

Your marketing and sales efforts will help you reach your targets if you know who your target audience well. Memorize their names, learn about their preferences through past conversations. You should know who your clients are, what do they buy, and why do they buy them.

Knowledge is power

JetBlue Airlines give small gestures to frequent flyers.

Nordstrom tries to always say “Yes!” to all customer requests.

Examples of good customer service do abound.

Always ask customers things like the reason why they’re buying your product. It also helps a lot if you know why they’re not making the purchase.

Customer support solutions like Freshdesk empowers supervisors and team leaders to quickly gain actionable insights on what’s actually happening on the floor. Its Admin and Supervisor Snapshot feature allows you to quickly see if admin intervention is needed. This way, no customer concern will become severe or even unmanageable.

In case you want to try this intuitive tool first, you only need to sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

Freshdesk Supervisor Snapshot Dashboard

With Freshdesk’s Supervisor Snapshot, you can see quickly actual problem areas and intervene ASAP if needed.

3. Be responsive

In any online customer experience, 73% of customers say that valuing their time is most important to them. A foundation of good customer care is solving customer requests the soonest time possible.

Speed must be the energy that drives your service teams. Smaller problems should be resolved faster. Bigger, more complicated issues must be given more resources to enable quicker resolution.

People never like languishing in a long ticket queue. They, however, are willing to wait as long as they need to just to have their problems resolved. 

A relaxed service is failed service

Good customer care involves offering a timely response, all the time. Always try to get back to your customers as quickly as possible. Never be in a rush when providing customer care. Doing things haphazardly will do more harm than good.

A laid-back style to customer service should never be an option. If you don’t act quick enough, your competitors are just lurking somewhere to steal your customers.

Deploying reliable customer support automation tools will ensure you’ll always have a responsive team 24/7.

How customers value their time

From Trends 2016: The Future Of Customer Service

73%

Good online customer service should value customer's time

53%

US online adults will abandon online purchase because of slow response

Source: Forrester

Designed by

4. Put a personal touch

Privacy is something people are willing to forgo when it comes to buying things they need. Customers what businesses to know who they are and what are the things they’ve bought. In fact, 75% of consumers tend to purchase more from those that provide personalized suggestions.

People want themselves known because they dislike wasting time repeating their history whenever they reach out to a brand. In a survey, 59% gave personalization a very high score. Customers love personalized service versus one that’s lightning fast.

A business should be personal

Customer service today must be one that truly connects on a deeper level. With so much technology around, 69% of consumers feel like they’re not human anymore, just a digital ticket waiting for its turn.

Automation now has an important role to play in customers support. It, however, can never take the place of real people helping each other.

consumers will buy from companies that give personalized suggestions

5. Don’t promise anything you can’t keep

If a great customer service means success, customer service failure is largely about broken promises. Keeping your brand promises should be the bedrock that supports everything a company does. 70% of Americans report experiencing broken brand promises.

What you make a promise, by hell or high water make sure you deliver on it. Never fail on keeping your word.

Providing excellent customer service should focus on your brand promise.  If you let your customers down, you lose their trust and respect.

When being truthful isn’t enough

Noone’s perfect. Even top companies fail in keeping their word. What separates them from others is how efficiently they respond to crises. In fact, the best brands can even turn broken promises into great opportunities.

Take the case of Domino’s Pizza. In 2009, the popular pizza chain’s sales were in a downturn. This occurred despite keeping its brand promise of fast delivery–to deliver pizza in 30 minutes or less. The company later discovers that people also want great tasting pizza, not just fast delivery.

Domino’s Pizza improved its recipe and viola–their sales improved by 14.3% in 2010 versus the previous year. The company’s successful handling of a brand mistake continued to pay handsome dividends. Domino’s even overtook erstwhile leader Pizza Hut to become number one in 2017.

Impact of broken promises to customers

Accenture's Broken Promises Study (Management Consulting Podcast Series)

70%

Americans who report that companies promised something to them

40%

US consumers who say that companies failed to keep their promises

Source: Accenture

Designed by

6. Listen attentively

After selling your product or service, it’s time to listen to your customers. Listening is one of the most basic skills needed to provide great customer service. This entails hearing out what your customers are communicating verbally and non-verbally.

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. To succeed, a business has no other choice but to listen to what their customers say. you must pay close attention to their feedback, whether good or bad.

Being attentive to your clients is an excellent way to learn how to improve your brand. If two heads are better than one, what more if there are thousands or millions of heads to help you? Did you hear those cash registers

Listening is crucial in sales

Listening, it should be noted, is just one part of a whole process. The other is acting upon what your customers say.

If a business is serious in providing great customer service, then it should let its customers talk and listen to them. In fact, by just hearing out a customer’s opinion and making the appropriate actions, a loyal customer is won.

Learn to keep your ears open because you might just discover things even your best employees don’t know. Listening could prove the difference between solving, or not solving brand issues.

To keep you abreast of every customer interaction, it’s highly suggested to deploy technologies just like how smart CRM tools work. This way you get to listen and record every customer contact.

consumers will buy from companies that give personalized suggestions

7. Facilitate self-service

Customers nowadays want results in the soonest time possible. This is why most of them prefer to to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live agent.

The people you serve want answers now, not later. They expect you to quickly attend to them at their every need, without any delay. Online self-service can help companies save up to $11 for each call. If your company, for instance, receives 3,000 calls every week, you could save as much as $1.7 million annually.

More and more customers don’t want to talk to someone to get their problem solved. In many instances, they want to resolve their issue fast, by themselves. In fact, 40% of consumers now prefer self-service than human contact

Businesses, therefore, should initiate effective ways to help customers help themselves. Digital self-servicing offers up to 30% in efficiency gains. Other benefits include decreased call volumes and straight-through processing.

Take advantage of that self-service technology provides by deploying the best customer support solutions in the market today.

Customers’ need for speed

Longer delays in response increase the likelihood of switching brands. If you’re serious in keeping your customers, keep track of your response time.

Customers expect businesses to respond within the hour. There are some that responds within one minute. But the average response time is 12 hours, while the slowest is 8 days!

The truth is that both customers and businesses want exactly the same thing. You both want questions and issues resolved fast. This is the reason why one of the most important elements of great customer experience is a quick response time.

Business costs when handling support (multiple customer service channels)

From The Total Economic Impact of Click to Call and Click to Chat Study (In US$)

Estimated Cost per Contact

Call center technical support

Call center CSR

Web chat

Email response

Web self-service

Source: Forrester & Oracle

Designed by

8. Train Your Staff Well

One of the worst things that could happen to customers is talking to clueless support reps. This is something avoidable as it only entails providing proper training to your employees. You must teach them to be knowledgeable, courteous, and helpful, all the time.

A business is defined by how its customer service treats its customers. This means if you truly value your brand image–and success–you must ensure that your staff is properly trained in customer service.

Provide up-to-date product/service information to all your employees. Subject your front liners to problem-solving training to empower them with the skills to deal with difficult customers. Above all, you should teach them to always act with the brand’s image in mind.

To train or not to train?

71% of CEOs cited human capital as the top source of sustained economic value for companies. These decision-makers consider training to be more important than brands, customer relationships, and products.

Additionally, provide them with the necessary tools to help them to consistently offer great customer service. Training your staff without providing the needed work tools is like sending soldiers to war without giving them guns.

Finally, motivate your employees to acquire the spirit of self-development. Learning is a life-long process and employees should be driven toward continuous growth.

CEOs rate human capital as the best source of value

9. Concentrate support on your customer

No business can survive without their customers so their importance is incomparable. In fact, customers should be prioritized over products or revenues. They should be treated as the most important part of a business, simply because they are.

Poor customer service makes businesses lose up to $75 billion a year. Businesses are falling flat in creating healthy, emotional experiences that push customer loyalty.

If your business is already customer-focused, you must continue reaching out further to them. In case it’s still not, it’s high time to do so.

Leverage the power of social media

When it comes to voicing out complaints and queries, most people turn to social media. In fact, 55% of consumers complain via social media to quickly get outcomes.

People expect resolutions fast so every business must take social media seriously. It’s simply too powerful to disregard.

Choose only customer service solutions that can help you leverage the power of social networks like Freshdesk. With this powerful tool, you can seamlessly integrate your social media channels to elevate online customer support straight from your helpdesk.

10. Go the extra mile

The final but similarly important great customer service practice is going the extra mile. This stage happens when you’ve already resolved a customer issue, yet you still want to do some more.

Doing things to surpass customer expectations guarantees loyalty. Merely meeting what they expect might mean a single purchase. In fact, 77% of consumers would make repeat purchases because of great customer service.

Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people. And that good word of mouth will win you more customers.

Try to throw in something more

When customers perceive that you value them, they’ll naturally come back for more. And when you always give something extra whenever you connect, they’re definitely feel valued. But don’t think that a gesture should be dramatic to be efficient.

Doing something extra doesn’t depend on how big or small the thing is. Giving even a small token of appreciation will always mean a lot for anyone. A small discount or some free items–to cap another successful sale–will go a long way.

Doing something nice for your customers actually may likely result in reciprocal action. Customers would love to return the favor back, especially by making a repeat purchase. They may also recommend you to their family and friends.

consumers will buy again from a company that gives great customer service

Are you ready to elevate your customer service?

There you have it, ten of the most effective best practices for providing great online customer service. Customers are indeed becoming more and more very difficult to please as days pass. Their expectations will never be permanent. They will continuously change. That’s human nature.

If there’s one way to best summarize these great online customer best practices, it should be this: customer service is not a business unit or divisions. It’s actually an attitude.

Customer service evolves continuously. Your business must evolve to keep your customers engaged. The best way is by leveraging intuitive customer support solutions like Freshdesk. You can easily try it when you sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

Finally, knowing more about customer service solutions will help a lot in ensuring that you keep your customers keep coming back.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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