Customer Service Best Practices for 2017
Most businesses claim that customers are their number one focus, but research suggests this is not always the case. In fact, research from Lee Resources found that while 80 percent of all companies claim they offer top quality customer service, just 8 percent of customers think those same companies do so.
One of the key challenges businesses face is bridging this disconnect between what they believe they are offering and what they are actually offering. Yet, research indicates the gap is widening each year. There are, however, some best practices that can be addressed through customer service training to make positive changes.
The Full Customer Experience
As outlined by the Miller Heiman Group, it is no longer enough to leave customer service to your customer service staff alone. The truth of the matter is, every interaction a customer has with your business falls under the customer service umbrella.
Time and time again, studies have shown that customers value having real human interactions, rather than dealing with automated services. This interaction can be in person, over the phone or even through live chat services, but customers expect staff to be responsive, friendly and knowledgeable about the products you offer.
It is important to identify every customer touchpoint, from the first moment of contact until the post-sale stage, and make sure these qualities are on display. Moreover, any customer service courses you send staff on should emphasise the fact that customer service includes everything from website visits to in-store interactions.
Understanding Digital Media
In today’s world, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter play an increasingly important role in the customer experience. Social networking allows customers to have direct contact with businesses, but this communication needs to be carefully planned in order to manage customers’ expectations correctly and inspire trust.
Again, it is important to have polite, knowledgeable staff in charge of your social media accounts, but swift response times are also crucial, because Facebook and Twitter users are notoriously impatient. Indeed, according to Edison Research, 32 percent of customers expect a response in as little as half an hour, while 67 percent expect a response on the same day. Moreover, more than half expect the same response times at night or on weekends.
Customer Service Training
When it comes to providing your staff with the required expertise to deliver superior customer service, the type of training you offer is of paramount importance. Ideally, customer service courses should blend in-person training with digital solutions and combine independent learning with an instructor led approach.
Role plays can be used to great effect in order to teach staff how to tackle specific issues, while your training should also be informed by the feedback you receive from customers. Crucially, customer service training should be given to all staff in your organisation and not merely the customer service team itself.
In 2017, businesses need to face up to the fact that they rarely provide the level of customer service they think they do and certainly the percentage of businesses that believe they offer a great customer experience far exceeds the percentage of customers who agree with that assessment.
When it comes to best practices for the year ahead, it is vital that companies see that the entire customer experience falls under ‘customer service’ and every touchpoint must be involved in improving that experience.
Generally speaking, customers want polite, knowledgeable and responsive staff, so these elements should be the focal point of any training you provide. Furthermore, businesses need to understand the role of social media in the modern customer experience and deliver a service that is memorable, personal and grounded in human interaction.