How do you create a portfolio of loyal customers and brand ambassadors? By making sure that they are satisfied with their interaction with your brand and product. Customer success is customer satisfaction. But customer success is not automatic, it takes a deliberate approach, facilitated by customer service.
Customer service is a business’s provision of assistance to the customer in all their interaction with a product – before, during, and after purchase. Customer service is integral to customer success, and it can be measured in the way that customers respond to a business and speak about it. Customer service’s importance is so great that customers may choose to withdraw their loyalty to a brand (and influence others to do the same) if they feel that customer success is not up to par.
According to a Forbes report, 49% of respondents indicated switching to another brand, and another 67% admitted to choosing another brand more than once due to poor customer service. Forbes also reports that companies lost as much as $62 billion in 2016 due to poor customer service.
The benefits of customer service that result in customer success go beyond simply meeting the customer’s needs. Businesses have a lot to gain.
- It provides businesses with a ton of information on customer patterns and behavior.
- It helps them to understand how best to communicate with customers.
- It provides useful information for the creation of future products.
- It builds brand awareness and reputation.
- It highlights the importance of communication strategies.
And it helps to identify the right communication tools and professionals to use them.
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Common communication tools your business should be using
Social networking sites have gone beyond enabling people to socialize virtually to preparing cheaper platforms for B2C businesses to thrive. Businesses can now not only communicate with customers but also advertise their goods and services. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp for Business, and Instagram for Business.
Using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software, these platforms have important features such as video and audio calls, text chat, videoconferencing, and screen sharing. It makes them the go-to tool for team collaboration, B2B communication, and project management. They are cheaper, as they incur a lesser cost than regular phone calls, and save businesses the stress of planning physical meetings while producing the same results. Examples include Slack, Brosix, Zoom, and Nextiva.
Technology can sometimes fail: internet connectivity may be slow or inaccessible, data can be hacked, servers can be down, and certain customers may prefer older, more familiar communication methods. The traditional phone is, therefore, important to be able to close the gaps that technology leaves.
But telephone calls may go unanswered or require extended wait times while the other party is still waiting for a resolution to business problems.
However, emails may be unopened, unread, and worse still, marked as spam.
Chatbots for customer support
These help businesses to carry out customer service operations by interacting with customers on various communication platforms on one integrated platform. According to Gartner, chatbots will take over 85% of customer service activities in 2020. Chatbots are also expected to be more human to ensure that communication is empathic.
Focus on instant messaging
Instant messaging transmits messages in real-time, allowing people and businesses to send media, make audio and video calls, send broadcast messages, create group chats for collaboration and project management, and share screens for presentations and board meetings. It is handy for organizations whose work mode is remote, as it’s cheaper than the physical alternatives.
How individuals are using it
A large number of people have replaced traditional text messages and phone calls with instant messages. Precious moments can be shared with family and friends no matter where they are in the world. Families separated by distance can see themselves via file sharing and video calls – an opportunity that would have previously necessitated expensive flight tickets.
People have come to rely on the speedy responses that instant messaging affords, and they are now able to include others in conversations that phone calls and text messages disallow. Instant messaging provides a personal approach to communicating with others. It holds the promise that your message will be delivered quickly, as intimately as you want it to be communicated, and with all the details that file-sharing permits.
How businesses are using it
Since communication is key to the development of business solutions and customer success, businesses use instant messaging to perform the following tasks:
- Carry out internal communication activities.
- Update customers on products and product information.
- Collaborate with other businesses.
- Carry out customer support services.
- Communicate sales processes.
- Analyze customer behavior and preferences.
Instant messaging is suitable for many businesses because:
- It’s cheaper. It is a useful resource for startups who can perform a wide range of organizational tasks without dipping too deep into their seed capital.
- It aids international communication: it’s faster, and team leads can communicate easily.
- Communication is secure and accessible for future reference. Users can easily refer to it for confirmations instead of previous methods to actively seek out such information.
Six ways business are using instant messaging wrong
1. They’re sending outdated messages
Customers must have the most recent product and sales information. Your business should be sending the most recent information about your product(s), services, sales processes, and sales outreach. And if you’re sending out celebratory messages such as a birthday or holiday greeting, make sure you’re doing it at the right time and on the day it matters.
- Communication teams should proofread messages for accuracy.
- Set up automated messages to coincide with new releases and discount opportunities.
2. Their response time is slow
Few things say ‘incompetent’ and ‘unserious’ more than an unresponsive business. When customers wait for too long before a representative reaches out, negative impressions are already formed.
- Customer service representatives should be trained to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible.
- Automated messages should be prepared when the business is unavailable, such as during the holiday season.
- If sales personnel is unavailable, a suitable representative should be appointed to respond to their messages.
Sometimes it’s hard to respond to a flood of messages, and some of them are likely to get lost. One way to combat this is to use the right communication tool to integrate communication channels on a single platform so that more customers can be swiftly responded to.
3. They only use it as a suggestion box
Some organizations see instant messaging as a necessary evil instead of the communication tool that it is. Hence, issues like conflict resolution and logistics setbacks are delivered via other channels, when a simple message (that will likely reach the customer faster) can do the work. Here is a list of communication activities that businesses can use instant messaging for:
- Update customer on logistic information and changes.
- Confirm orders.
- Give customer support.
- Carry out conflict resolution activities.
- Receive feedback on product use.
4. They are hiring the wrong people to handle these platforms
A business is only as good as its workforce, and communication is a sensitive activity. With the wide reach and usage of social media, a word wrongly spelled or spoken can cause a crisis strong enough to bring a company down.
Businesses lose important clients because their customer service representatives do not understand proper crisis management. Therefore, businesses must hire professionals who understand the technical use of communication tools and hire professionals who understand empathy and diplomacy.
Things customer representatives should know:
- Technical knowledge of the tool.
- Understanding the customer’s grievance or question.
- Appropriate use of media, language, and emoticons. In 2016, KFC Australia posted a pixelated porn picture to advertise an upcoming product. Following public outrage, the tweet was deleted shortly after, and KFC apologized.
- Company policy on specific issues: it’s confusing when customer service reps send out conflicting information.
5. They are not using the right instant messaging tool
Although there are various communication tools to choose from, every company must know and understand what platform(s) are more suitable for their customers.
To identify this, businesses must understand the characteristics and preferences of their target audience.
- Will video calls be preferable to audio calls?
- Are instant messages more productive than emails?
- Feedback forms or live chats?
- Slack or Zoom?
With more AI-powered options for handling customer service, organizations must be careful to ensure that these bots’ activities are not counteractive. Microsoft wanted to test a new bot on Twitter, Tay, but trolls quickly incited it to post racist and sexist tweets. Microsoft eventually discontinued it.
6. They are not using it to gather data
Businesses must recognize that important data about customer behavior and preferences can be gathered through instant messaging. Good communication is fostered by a good understanding of the receiving party.
Thankfully, many instant messaging platforms come with analytics which shows a range of details, such as:
- Peak times: businesses can plan effective customer support when they know that customers are likely to need help.
- Search: what are customers searching for the most? You can begin to tailor your business to meet these needs.
- Engagement: What is the nature of customers’ interaction with your communication efforts on social media? Is it a passive engagement? Are they just liking it? Or is it active engagement: are they sharing, retweeting, and commenting? This helps your business to evaluate the efficacy of your communication strategies and provides insight on necessary adjustments.
A tool for marketing strategies and tactics
Instant messaging has incredible potential to inform marketing strategies and tactics, manage brand awareness, and improve customer success and loyalty. Companies must go beyond enjoying the surface benefits of this tool and maximize its full advantages.