The holiday season is upon us, which got us to thinking… The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but for many shoppers, the holidays can be a frustrating experience filled with traffic jams, crowded stores, and long lines at checkout. To make matters worse, Salesforce sponsored a study that found that holiday expectations have grown so low among Americans, 42% expect customer service to plummet over the holidays, too.
Knowing that nearly half of shoppers expect poor customer service, we thought we’d offer insights into the customer service process – like how to define your customer service strategy and how to improve it – not just for the holiday season, but for all 365 days of the year. At the end of the day, it’s about making your customers happy, right?
Defining your customer service strategy
One of the biggest customer support mistakes is not including your customer service strategy in your go-to-market plan. Companies of all sizes, from early-stage startups to multi-million dollar enterprises, find themselves guilty of waiting until support tickets and emails come pouring in before creating a dedicated action plan. If you don’t have a customer service strategy in place, start by:
- Making sure your strategy revolves around your core principles and values
- Figuring out the type of experience you want customers to have
- Determining how to best communicate brand through support interactions
Defining a strategy specific to your company can help you create one that is helpful to customers, while still being a great fit for your company and support team.
Creating an awesome support team
With any strategy, you need the right people to carry it out, meaning you have to hire smart. When companies hire for most positions, they look at experience, skills, and qualifications. Conversely, with a customer service position, you need to look for people with that “special something.” You can’t teach someone how to care about customers; that’s a trait that’s often intrinsic to the person. Seek individuals who believe helping others is rewarding, and you’ll often be rewarded with an exceptional support team that goes above and beyond their job description.
This leads us to the next logical question. How will a customer service team go above and beyond? Great customer service teams don’t just help customers in the proverbial “red,” but strive to support customers that are already happy. These customers are your company’s evangelists and oftentimes your biggest supporters, so it’s important not to forget about them. Shift the way you think about customer service, and try to make all your customers happy, whether they asked for help or not.
Debunking customer service misconceptions
Now that we’ve outlined how to create a great foundation for how to serve your customers, we’ve got to tackle common customer service misconceptions.
- Customer support is a cost center. Many companies look at their support centers as a cost; a place where employees are paid to help customers, often reversing costly mistakes or offering a discount to make up for an error – whether it’s the company’s fault or not. The companies that are most successful, however, flip this concept and view support as a revenue center. Companies that embrace the concept that each support ticket should be an opportunity to create a great experience (not just mitigate bad experiences) often succeed and become trusted brands among their community and customers.
- Customer service must be done in-person. Yes, historically, customer service is an in-person interaction between a store representative and a client. However, in today’s technology-driven society, customer service experiences have moved online. Aaron Franklin, Product Manager at Pinterest, shared that “In many cases, users are now getting help instantly with experiences that exceed those offered by human beings.” Providing a way for customers to serve themselves online with a comprehensive help desk allows users to find the answers they need, when they need them, which ultimately means satisfied customers.
How you can improve your customer service?
Whether you’re just starting your business or you’re an industry veteran, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to how you serve your customers. Check out these tips for how to create an even better experience for anyone who’s interested in your product.
Make data your best friend
Todd Park, formerly the second Chief Technology Officer of the United States, said, “Data by itself is useless. Data is only useful if you apply it.” And while this seems like a basic concept, it’s one that’s overlooked far too often.
Examining data, like website visits and how customers interact with your website, can help you understand where you need to make product and service changes. For instance, maybe one of your website’s pages has an extremely high bounce rate, indicating customers aren’t finding the answers they need. Knowing this, you can make changes to this specific page, maybe adding clarity, and then can train your staff to respond to these changes. By spending time with your data, you might be able to find a new service opportunity that you never would have thought of.
Stick to your word
As a customer, there’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a “live chat” option, and then not being able to chat with someone. It’s understandable that not all companies, especially those with limited budgets, can provide 24/7 support. But don’t tell customers you’re going to provide immediate assistance, and then ask them to leave a message. If you tell your customers you’re going to be there for them, be there. A simple workaround? State the hours that live chat is available or ask customers to leave a message and tell them you’ll be in contact within the next twenty-four hours. Sticking to your word is the first step in gaining customer trust.
Help customers help themselves
Zendesk, a customer service software and support ticket system, is a huge advocate of the “customer self-serve” model. The concept behind this model is to provide customers with all the resources they need to help themselves to the simple and frequently asked questions, which includes:
- Building a better FAQ. Your FAQ is the perfect place to implement the self-serve concept. Create an easy-to-navigate and robust FAQ, including step-by-step instructions, graphics, and videos, and provide customers with a way to find out more information about your product or service. Also be sure to think of your FAQ as a living, breathing document that requires regular updating. When a customer asks a great question that doesn’t come up often, add it to the FAQ!
- Make your website searchable. Adding a search bar to your website is an easy way to give customers a channel to find answers to their own questions. You can even think about adding an auto-populate feature where frequently typed queries pop up as the user starts typing, providing even more convenience.
- Create a separate social media presence. Many people turn to social media to ask other customers questions or to speak directly to the company. Creating a strong presence on various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) gives your customers another way to reach you. While these channels can only be successful if monitored regularly (they can have the opposite effect if inquiries go unanswered), when done correctly, they give your company a voice and show your community that your company cares and is working to provide the best possible experience for users.
Support ALL your customers
76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. So for companies who serve a global audience, it’s extremely important to provide customer service and support in that customer’s native language. Localizing your Zendesk help center is one of the best ways to do this, and with help from Transifex, it’s as simple as linking up your existing help center with our platform.
For more information about translating and localizing your help center, don’t hesitate to reach out to Transifex. We offer personalized demos, so schedule a time to chat and see how we can help you support customers all over the world!