Six innovative ways to manage your customer service enquiries

In twenty-first century business there’ve never been more ways to interact with customers and sell products widely. However, the downside of this is that our customers are ever more demanding when it comes to customer service, so we have to up our game to meet expectations.
Here are six things you can do to improve your effectiveness.

1. Get with technology

Customers aren’t satisfied with coming to reception and talking to someone any more. We all lead busy lives and don’t have time to go out of our way to make contact. Nowadays, 30% of customer service engagements take place online with social media a favourite method of interaction, so having a presence there is essential.
Social media is especially suitable for simple enquiries with many customers now using it for such, as well as the fire-and-forget email that you’ll respond to in your own time (but don’t leave it too long!). However for more complex enquiries, the sound of a human voice is still king (or queen) and so much the better if that voice sounds like it may understand what’s going on. You need to utilise all your resources fully.

2. Offer self service

Today, so many of us will go out of our way to avoid human interaction if we don’t need it. The days of stopping for a chat with the shop assistant are gone as the queues get longer and the deadlines shorter. Just look at the self-service checkouts at the supermarket where people fly through without having to take out their iPod earphones to see how important this is. Create communities online that can help each other without the input of your team. Build comprehensive (but usable!) FAQ sections, and allow people to find the answers in intuitive ways.

3. Remember to listen to them when they’re talking

Back with social media for this one. There are so many channels now available for customer engagement, and people are using them whether you like it or not. With more than 60% of customers influenced in their choices by other people’s experiences, these are avenues you can’t afford to miss.
Be out there on social media, listen to what your customers are saying about you, and be ready to put forward your case and answer questions. Get to know your customers and understand what motivates them. Know why they buy your products, what they like about them, and what they don’t. Remember: constructive criticism is invaluable.

4. Be responsive

However your customers contact you, be quick on the response. Even if you can’t give them the full answer immediately at least thank them for their enquiry and let them know you’ll be in touch again shortly. There’s nothing worse than a wall of silence. If you fail to be prompt they’ll be off elsewhere and may just let the rest of social media know that you’ve failed too.
Send them a receipt with a message summary to show you’ve read their query and understood it. Let them know if you’re taking further action and the likely response time. A good customer relationship management (CRM) system will help you keep track of communications and responses so you’re always in control of your customer enquiries. You may not be able to tell your customer what they want to hear but if you can deliver bad news with courtesy and efficiency you’ll be better off for it.

5. Show your human side

It’s true that many people like to avoid human contact and prefer automation, but for those occasions when we need to deal with a human being it’s important to make it easy. After all, we’ve all spent ages navigating around a website looking in vain for a phone number when we’ve got a query that needs the human touch. Making contact details visible and ensuring they lead to a well-resourced enquiry centre without too many automated messages is vital.
Finally, there is the golden rule…

6. Make it easy to do business with you

It sounds obvious but so often it’s something that gets lost among other priorities. Don’t let it! Customers get bored and frustrated so it pays to make their journey from discovering you to purchasing your products as easy and painless as possible. If you can save them time and effort they’ll be back again and again. It doesn’t always boil down solely to price; most of us will pay more for an easy life.

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