Service business

4 Ways to Go Beyond “Basic” in Customer Service

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Basic. the classic definition is fundamental in nature. Slang turned that categorization into an insult. Either way, using the term “core” to describe an organization’s customer service isn’t a positive thing.

That’s not to say that covering “the basics” isn’t important. In fact, the basics are the absolute starting point of customer service. But going beyond these essentials can be a differentiator, and in a world of commoditized goods and services, standing out in the crowd, especially when it comes to customer service, can have. game changing effects in terms of customer satisfaction, efficiency gains, retention and revenue growth. So how does an organization achieve this?

Choice of channels

The phone remains a popular choice for customers. That makes it an important chain to give away, but it would still fall squarely into base camp. Live chat, like the phone, another one-on-one service offering, would also fall into this category. Messaging is not that basic, which becomes most popular and delivers a live experience that elevates service above the basics.

Forrester increased the importance to offer self-service for year. An up-to-date knowledge base is the issues at the table here. Online communities can be of interest to some customers, and organizations can benefit from this channel by collecting useful information in a community for use in the development of new products or services; document proven solutions in knowledge base articles; or to create chatbot responses. Speaking of chatbots, when done right, they can also help rise above the base.

Going beyond the basics also means a service optimized for mobile. This doesn’t mean that a dedicated app is required, but that customers can log into customer service from a mobile device without sacrificing the experience.

Choice does not mean offering all possible channels. Providing customers with too many routes may not make sense. Identify and eliminate low-volume or expensive-to-maintain channels (e.g. due to technology or the need for special skills for staff). Don’t neglect to ask customers for their opinion, either. The easiest way not to be basic is to follow the ever-changing interests of clients.

Assistance everywhere

With the right customer channels in place, it may seem like that’s all that’s needed. While it is true that lines of communication may be open, they may not be in the right places.

A customer’s need for assistance can arise at any time during their trip. This can be pre-sales or when using a product or service. With most of this internet journey, one tap or click to go to a customer service page can be enough to disrupt the experience: the prospect isn’t buying or the customer’s question goes unanswered. Limiting customer service to one “place” is fundamental.

Instead, access to customer service should be readily available. Supported channels (messaging, chatbot conversation, searchable knowledge base, etc.) should be featured prominently. To achieve this, service integrated into the digital landscape. So help is never far away.

Client operations

You would think that it would be enough to provide the right channels to connect with customer service at places along the customer journey. This has all the ingredients of Well customer service, but it still lacks an essential element to really great.

This is because customer questions and needs come in all forms. While some may have easy, rote answers, others may not. Problems may require the help of another person or a team outside of customer service who has the necessary knowledge or skills. Most organizations recognize this, but they deal with these more complex issues using manual means: tracking them in spreadsheets and communicating their status via email. This can slow down service and negatively impact the customer experience.

Raising above the base means offering faster resolutions. Problems requiring skills outside of customer service are resolved faster when customer service is connected to these middle and back office specialists. Self-service workflow can connect customers directly to these other teams for actions such as registering products, requesting spare parts or scheduling a service appointment. During live interactions, customer service agents can assign tasks to other parts of the organization using play books to complete customer requests.

Proactive notifications

The term “customer service” refers to the agents and self-service options available to help with a problem. It is an organization reagent response options: stand by and step in to help when asked. Critical to offer, yes, but also basic.

Today’s world is digital and connected. This means that many products and services have a “state of health”: available / online, idle, or unavailable / offline. Media streaming services, ATM networks and airline reservation systems are just a few examples of digital services customers rely on. When these systems have problems, they contact customer service, often only to be told by an agent, “yes, we know that”. Officers are aware of the increasing volume of contacts around this issue. The technical teams behind the scenes responsible for maintaining the service, however, likely saw the problem coming.

Rather than letting customer service be inundated with inquiries, reducing service levels and increasing agent stress, customer operations in the form of a workflow can provide a more proactive response. When disruptions occur, technical teams can alert customer service. Potentially impacted customers are identified. Proactive notifications (emails, SMS, etc.) are sent to alert customers to the issue, inform them that it is being resolved and when a resolution is expected. While the outage can be bothersome, customers are not further hampered by the need to contact customer service.

From basic to remarkable

For some, “basic” may describe the bare minimum. For others, it can be seen as an insult. Either way, organizations today can do more than just simple when it comes to customer service.

Start by breaking down barriers to engagement. Meet customers in the channels of their choice and provide customer service at locations along their journey. Use automation and workflow to keep customer operations running smoothly and speed up resolution of customer issues. And finally, identify the scenarios and create the processes and systems to provide proactive service. It goes beyond the simple to provide truly memorable customer service.