Online Presence Management for Honorable Professionals
Digital Customer Service: The 10 Cornerstones
May 22, 2023
Customer service is about solving the problems of your customers. Now, businesses need to manage customer service across multiple channels. When customers have a negative experience online, they blame the company. Not responding to customers on review websites and social media is worse than having a phone line that goes unanswered, because there are thousands of people witnessing the neglect.
Whose job is customer service? The truth is, customer service is the responsibility of everyone in your company. Building a brand means delivering on a promise again and again. It means consistency and preserving successful customer relationships.
The 10 cornerstones to success in digital customer service
1. Reply to reviews quickly
When consumers take time to leave a business a review, it's important to respond in a timely manner. Nearly nine in ten consumers look at online reviews to determine the credibility of a business, and it's important they see that the company has an active, responsive voice. Not only will other people who go to the review website see the response, but it's possible those consumers could share the review and response with their own networks. All reviews should be addressed by your company. The only exception to this is star-only rating reviews. These are permitted on Facebook and a few other top review websites.
2. Offer a consistent experience
Depending on the kind of product or service that you offer, consumers may engage with several people at the company before the last transaction. Your company needs to make sure that throughout the complete experience, that your customers are having good interactions. The same story should resonate throughout your customer service efforts, and that story should be customer-centrist.
Apple is an example of a company that offers a consistent experience throughout their customer funnel. From their website with its streamlined, minimal design to the simple and elegant phone you take home, Apple products and websites offer a cohesive experience.
3. Experience your customer journey
Most businesses have created their online presence rather piecemeal-- create an account on one social platform, add chat integration to the site, develop a blog, expand offerings, etc. While this is the most common way to build out a business, it doesn't always equal the most seamless customer journey. Go through your buyer's process. Look for yourself online, check out the site content, sign up for the newsletter, etc. Note any bumps and bruises you discover along the way and how you can make the whole experience more cohesive.
4. Use social media as a two-way street
Perhaps the best thing about social media is that it means a kind of democracy for customers and businesses alike-- everyone is on the same playing field. While social media can be tedious, let's make sure we do not ruin one of the best things about it-- the fact that customers can have conversations with companies. Share useful content, connect with customers and from time to time share promotional info about your products or services. Asking questions, holding competitions and sharing content relevant to your audience are all good ways to engage with customers. Do not just talk, listen.
5. Have a high performing website
Consumers going to your site are not patient so your business needs to have a site and assets that load quickly. Approximately 50% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, anything longer than that, consumers start leaving. The abandonment rate for viewers waiting to start up a video is a steady curve up and to the right. When website visitors have a poor experience on a business website, they blame the business, not Google, wifi problems or whatever else may be the issue.
6. Open communication and transparency
Consumers can detect sales-y language from a mile away. It's best to be direct about your offerings, and even your shortcomings. Nail your sales approach and provide consumers the information they're looking for. Even if you are not able to fix every problem your customers have, they'll appreciate your honesty and will be less likely to leave. Set your brand voice, share your truths. Being straightforward with customers, even if it appears to be a negative, usually pays off.
7. Have your listings right
Having a thorough understanding of listings is vital in the digital space. Getting business listing info correct (name, address, and phone number) across the internet, though, is one of the most important things your company can do to create a better digital customer service experience. There are several important directory and listing websites. Also, having correct listings with the four major data aggregators (Factual, Acxiom, Neustar-Localeze, and Infogroup) is one of the keys to distributing correct listing information across the internet.
8. Positive attitude
The power of a positive attitude and its impact on consumers should never be underestimated. Optimism is a foundation of customer service. Small changes in language and wording can make a big impact on consumers:
Option one: I'm sorry, we won't have that product in our software this month.
Option two: That functionality will be available at the start of next month! Our development team is hard at work on a few other features that are beneficial to you, as well ...
Rough or abrupt language is really off putting in customer service, even if it is not directly impolite or negative.
9. Use email effectively
Make sure when you email your customers that you have something to say. The communication should be timely, relevant and beneficial. Having an effective call to action is important-- give them a reason to read and engage with the email. An automated newsletter is fine and can be a good item of communication, but never have a do not respond email.
10. The heart of digital customer service
Your customers might claim they want the best product, and that they want it at the best price. While that is true, what they desire most is authenticity. Authenticity is delivering on a promise. Authenticity is consistency. Authenticity is digital customer service.