Think about it.
The last time you had a problem, what made the problem better? What made everything okay? Who earned your trust and loyalty? It was the business that solved your problem.
And as easy as it would be to just talk to the customer and fix their problem, this is the modern world. People are busy, and they want help with their problem at a time that works for them. They want you to fix their problem, and they’re not always able (or willing) to pick up the phone.
This is a modern trend that we see more and more today—and expect to see more of. People want to find information on their terms when they want it.
The good news: while your business might not have a fleet of customer service representatives that can answer questions 24/7, you can still use modern technology to answer questions, provide customer service, and, ultimately, earn their loyalty.
Don’t leave customer service to chance—as in, chance encounters with no preparation. Prepare you and your staff for any customer inquiries that come in. Train your staff to answer e-mails, social media messages, and in-person interactions so every customer is satisfied.
If there is a significant amount of online and phone customer inquiries, keep a log of the calls and messages to ensure that every customer is followed up with. Make sure you designate certain parties to be in charge of each kind of interaction (i.e. e-mail, social media messages, etc.)
Make sure you’re aware of every social media message.
You’re not going to have a satisfied customer unless you respond—and respond promptly; a study found that almost 42% expect a response within an hour of posting on a company’s social media. Make sure that your social media settings are set so that you are notified of every message that comes in (or make an arrangement with your marketing firm so you are alerted ASAP). Respond to the messages as soon as they come in, even if it’s just to ask for more information.
To be clear, you don’t have to be online 24/7; this would be difficult for most companies, especially smaller businesses with less resources. Be very clear about your company hours, and respond promptly within those hours, or as soon as possible the next morning.
Make your responses count.
When messages come in, create a smooth system so you can respond quickly—without having to go through an arduous process of management approval before posting. Managers and owners, make sure you choose a staff member to deliver the customer service you trust; just because your intern is online all the time, doesn’t make them an ideal candidate for handling delicate customer inquiries. If you’re not available, or don’t have the staff on hand to deliver prompt customer service, don’t be afraid to outsource your efforts; a company with experience can deliver the customer service your customers expect—without you having to invest in the training.
Give them an answer (before they ask).
Don’t make your customers wait for a response; many customers would rather find the answer themselves. Give it to them via content marketing, and establish yourself as an expert in the process. Write posts on your blog that answer common questions, and share them on your social media sites. Customers can find your post two different ways: via search engine listings or social media (or a combination of both!).
If you optimize your posts, your blog posts can show up in search engines when customers let their fingers ask the questions. Make sure you write a highly relevant headline, and continue your efforts in your blog post. Include topics that are related to the question in the post. Share your posts in your e-mails and on your social media sites.
Make sure you share these blog posts regularly; customers who follow the social media site see these posts when you post them—and so can anyone who checks the site when researching your company. Make sure your social media sites are easily accessible on your website. Your social media sites can also come up in organic search results when your customers search online.
Handle negative inquiries with care.
Angry inquiries are an unfortunate part of customer service. If a negative inquiry does come in, make sure your designated staff member is trained to deal with negative comments and messages (other tips for dealing with angry customers here). Authorize the staff member to honor any special requests (i.e. discounts, extra trips, etc.) if needed so they can respond promptly with an answer—an answer that builds trust and loyalty.