Current customers and potential customers want real-time answers and information. Whether it’s a product question or timeframe on when an order will be delivered, people don’t want to wait. With smart phones and ubiquitous Wi-Fi we’ve developed into a culture that forgot how to be patient. Making people wait means that they’ll go elsewhere – it’s as simple as that. As a result, your customer service team should be available 24 hours a day to offer assistance, or at the very least you should have a contact form to collect inquiries during the hours when your business is closed. Providing thorough resources so that customers can help themselves is another way to make sure that people can get the answers that they need right away.
Social Media Accessibility
Social media is no longer a place for linking to your business blog and passing along cat memes to make customers laugh. Social media is now a key customer service channel. This goes back to the idea of real-time help. Customers follow businesses on social media to get important product/service updates and have a way to ask questions or report issues they may encounter. Communicating with a business on social media and not receiving a response in a timely manner is usually viewed by customers as worse than not having a social media presence at all because being ignored makes customers feel slighted, which can negatively affect a brand’s image. Having a dedicated social media manager will ensure that you don’t miss out on these critical correspondences.
With the rise in social media usage among customers has come the potential for significant brand damage when a customer encounters a problem. All it takes is one customer having a bad experience for hundreds or thousands of people to hear about it. Most customers are still levelheaded, but some seek to abuse this power by demanding things to right whatever wrong they suffered. The result is that businesses have to go above and beyond these days to prove to future customers that they are willing to stand by their products and treat customers with respect and fairness. This is why your business needs to have certain concessions ready if customers receive a damaged product, experience a rude interaction with an employee, get overcharged, etc. Offering money off of future purchases, comping or discounting existing purchases, and providing free gifts are all popular methods for going the extra mile with customers to provide stellar customer service.
Simply being professional and pleasant in your customer interactions isn’t enough anymore. Consumers want to do business with companies that have friendly and fun personalities and stand for something more than just the products that they sell. This is why sustainable companies and ethically focused companies embody this in their customer service approach. Brands that sell lifestyle products are held to an even higher standard by customers because they are expected to embody the spirit of their products consistently through all of their brand communications and especially in direct communication with customers.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!