Exceptional Customer Service - Changing with the Times
We’re all a part of a revolution! Innovations in commerce and customer service will continue to trend, and they are changing the landscape of our experiences. We “surf”, we “share”, we point-and-click, we comment. Yes, these are exciting times for consumers as businesses continue to try to “wow” us with new features, services, products and promotions. Traditional and online businesses that fail to evolve with the times may soon lose some of us to those that can better captivate us, support our interests, and deliver the goods. Everybody wins: changing with the times helps businesses effectively cut costs while affording consumers more variety, better pricing, and an extensive means of support. Understanding some of these key ideas enhances our consumer experiences and our customer relations: first, by capitalizing on the power of self-help options; second, by understanding the wide reach of social media; lastly, by actively engaging survey efforts. Lets take a look at each of these notions:
- Self-Help Options Empower Consumers: The need to stand in long lines or wait endlessly on “hold” has been greatly minimized with the advent of self-help options. Consumers expect quick responses and solutions! If you’ve ever printed a boarding pass from a remote kiosk, or tracked the shipping on a new purchase, you’ve “helped yourself”. The ultimate goal here is to improve response time, thereby bettering customer relationships, as well as to increase company efficiency and profits. A win-win situation! A recent worldwide study by SSI (Survey Sampling International) concluded that 39% of modern consumers expect a response to their queries within 4 hours, while 55% of social media users expect an even quicker reply. Having control over the total transaction is what it’s all about: from “pre-sales”, when consumers research the product; to “sales”, when product and shipping options are customized; to “post-sales”, when customers track their purchase and look for support. Though personal contact with representatives is a nice backup if self-help options dead end, more and more consumers appreciate the power of getting prompt, even instant, results.
- Customer Care through Social Media: Social media use has grown exponentially over the past several years, and even teens now have accounts! Channels like Facebook and Twitter enable consumers to solicit and receive customer care in real-time, as well as to “share” their experiences with a broad audience. A 2012 Nielson report (a global information and measurement company) reveals that nearly 50% of U.S. consumers engage social media platforms to get their questions answered, or to report their satisfaction or complaints. It is likely the trend has only grown since then. Social media users can also network with other consumers--asking them questions and getting feedback on their personal customer experiences. Since social media use is so prevalent today, and speedy response times help drive customer satisfaction, it behooves businesses to adopt dedicated “handles” etc. for support in resolving customer concerns.
- Consumer Feedback is Critical: At some point, a clerk may have said something to you like, “take this survey online and be entered to win a $500 shopping spree!” Or, perhaps a waiter has given you a comment card and said something to the effect, “fill this out and you’ll receive a free appetizer on your next lunch visit.” Businesses absolutely want to hear what you have to say! Consumers can and should take an active role in shaping the quality of future transactions by giving substantive feedback on their experiences. This helps businesses to pinpoint where they may be exceeding or falling short of expectations. As important, this data can be collected, analyzed and used to identify consumer needs and tastes, as well as to develop newer strategies to help expedite exceptional customer service.
Bottom Line: Get involved! A good service relationship is just that--a two-way dynamic between the consumer and the business representative; both need to change with the times. Adopting new technological trends in customer service helps empower consumers, while businesses strike a new balance between speeding up quality service and retaining that personal touch. In the growing global marketplace, with newer technologies at our fingertips, the potential for future innovations is indeed exciting!