How to Provide 24/7 Customer Service Without Hiring More Reps
A company’s customer service response time is one of the biggest factors impacting both customer satisfaction and the company’s net promoter score (NPS). Service response time refers to the time between when a customer makes a request and when they get a response. In other words, it really has nothing to do with how great the service or product is that a company provides. If that company delivers poor customer service, they will most likely have a negative reputation in the eyes of the customer.
Fortunately for small businesses with small budgets, there are ways to reduce wait times without increasing stress and hiring more representatives.
Make Sure Your Current Staff is Trained Appropriately
Particularly if your business has a brick and mortar store, it’s important that employees in the store are trained on how to interact with customers and attend to their needs. Face-to-face contact is an important part of customer service, and if yours is lacking it could be because your employees just aren’t familiar with how to provide excellent customer service. For example, they may focus more on providing amazing service to their current customer while completely ignoring the new customer. They mean well, but multitasking can be crucial.
Even if your staff works primarily over the phone with customers, if your staff isn’t trained, it doesn’t matter how many extra employees you hire—your customers won’t be satisfied. Instead, spend the initial time creating a training manual, standard operating procedures, and make sure everyone goes through formal customer service training. They should know how to greet customers, how to ask questions to find out what the customer needs, and how to provide effective solutions to problems. Spending time on these important issues could greatly reduce your customer response time and lead to more satisfied customers overall.
Consider Implementing a Live Answering Service
A live answering service is a great way to increase your customer service response time. The benefits of having a live answering service are giving companies the confidence that they won’t miss out on any customer calls, which also improves customer satisfaction because they know their needs will be addressed immediately. This ultimately leads to better customer retention rates, which should be the ultimate goal for most companies.
Use Technology to Respond to Emails Quickly
Many customers prefer to email a company rather than call them on the phone or speak to someone in person. However, just because this mode of communication is less personal doesn’t mean you should put these requests on the back burner. Successful companies respond to email inquiries just as quickly, if not more so, than they do to phone calls. However, seeing as how customers can send emails at any time throughout the day, including the middle of the night, it might not be feasible for a person to respond to them immediately. That’s where technology and automation come into play.
Consider setting up an automatic email response for those people who email between business hours. While it won’t directly answer their question, they will appreciate that their request has been acknowledged. Then be sure to respond as soon as possible once you get back in the office. Another way technology can be helpful is if you choose to utilize “quick replies” or “quick responses” to emails. These are pre-written emails on a variety of common topics that can be sent immediately and that don’t require much thought or effort in the moment. Simply take the time in advance to determine what your common customer questions and requests are, compose email responses to them, and store them in an accessible place. Then, when an email comes in at an inconvenient time, send off one of the pre-written emails. This will satisfy the customer without requiring a lot of extra effort on your behalf.
Utilize “Self-Help” Resources
While this strategy does require a good amount of time and energy upfront, once it’s put together it needs very little maintenance. I’m referring to various self-help features such as FAQs, tutorials, and community forums. All of these are ways of addressing customer questions and concerns without having a physical person present who is providing answers. Most customers don’t actually need to speak to a person, they just want their question(s) answered. Consider putting together extensive video tutorials that address common questions and problems. Then, direct customers to these tutorials on your website, preferably with a direct link on your site’s “contact us” page.
A large, detailed FAQ page is another great way to provide customer support without having to hire additional manpower. The more time you put into creating one and detailing answers to as many questions as possible, the fewer customer phone calls and emails you’ll receive. Instead of contacting your business directly, customers will be able to answer their own questions via the FAQ. Community forums work in much the same way, but instead of your business providing the answers, consumers will seek them from their peers. All you need to do is set up the forum(s) and let your patrons do the work. It is a very good idea to assign one employee the job of monitoring the forums to make sure they are constructive and running smoothly, but overall it can be a great strategy.
Overall, it’s important to remember that your customer response time directly impacts your net promoter score, and these 2 metrics could make or break the success of your company. You’ll want to monitor both to make sure you’re providing the best possible customer service experience. Implementing one or more of the strategies above can help ensure you improve your response time and increase customer satisfaction in return.