Increasing customer satisfaction by choosing the right channels for customer service

“The waiting signal echoes loudly from the mobile speaker while you make breakfast and dress your kids. A woman’s tired voice once again repeats “Thank you for waiting, we will take your call soon” and you reflect on how much the tone affects both your perception of the brand and your mood. You cannot find the information you are looking for in the FAQ on the company’s website and there is no other way to contact them. You have been waiting in line for 25 minutes, that is almost an entire episode of Friends, and still have no idea how much longer you will have to wait.”

Ever had a similar experience? There are few things as frustrating as long phone queues when you do not really have time to call but there are no other options.

Bain & Company looked at 362 companies in a study called “Closing the delivery gap“. The study showed that only 30% of the companies organized their customer service functions in a way that created the right conditions for a really good customer experience. Another conclusion of the study was that 80% of the companies thought that they delivered good service while only 8% of the customers thought that they got good service. To be able to provide great service and get satisfied and loyal customers it is important to have a channel strategy.

Simplicity, accessibility and speed with channels

The currency we all trade with today is time. The companies who will win the race for the most satisfied customers are those who understand that their customers save time, energy and money when your company and customer service prioritizes speed, simplicity and accessibility. On the other hand, according to a study made by Accenture 36% of Swedish customers are willing to pay more for better service.

In the example above, there was only one contact way to customer service, which meant that there was no other choice but to call, although the easiest thing would probably have been to email them the questions. One option would have been to be able to choose to be called up when it’s your turn. An even more customer-focused solution would have been to also add some employees who monitor Facebook, respond to emails and write a functioning FAQ.

Companies that deliver wow-service have a channel strategy. They have the tools and processes for delivering a wow-service. A customer service software where you have all customer support cases and self-service solutions in one place makes that possible and helps you answer and manage more customers. Easy, accessible and quick.

Wow your customers

The customer service team is the face of the outside world, they can create loyal customers who become the company’s ambassadors. It is through your service that you stand out from your competitors. Because today it is not enough to have a satisfied customer.

Let’s say you have a supermarket across the street that you often buy various items that you forgot to buy in the larger store further away. You come in, find what you need, pay and leave. Your expectations are met but are you a loyal customer who always will choose this supermarket? If a new supermarket opens nearby, you would probably try it and if they have better service, well, then it is not certain that you will return to the first supermarket. A satisfied customer can potentially go to another supplier just to test. Satisfied customers are no longer enough. You need to wow customers to make them come back and become your loyal marketers and ambassadors.

Increased customer satisfaction leads to increased profitability

In a study conducted by Swedish Quality Index in collaboration with, among others, Stockholm School of Economics and Chalmers University of Technology, after 30 years of collecting data from thousands of companies in various industries in Sweden, the conclusion is that 1% increased customer satisfaction gives 5% increased profitability. Customer service has a key role here since they often are in contact with dissatisfied customers and those are the customers you can turn into the best ambassadors.

Step into your customers’ shoes

A good way of understanding your customers better to be able to choose the right channels is to determine your customer journey. The collective events your customers go through before, during and after they become a customer of yours. It can be used as a tool to map all your customers’ experience of you from start to finish from their perspective. It provides insight into what your customers need in different situations, so you can design your customer service accordingly and see which channels are needed. Add your target group to the customer journey and step into their shoes to get further perspective on how different parts of the target group want service. Think about the situations that can arise in the customer journey, because in certain stressful situations customers want to be able to call you and not get stuck with a chatbot or an email form where no alternative fits the case. Look at your company values and your customer promise to make sure that they match how you choose channels for customer service. These values should determine how you resolve issues and how you communicate.

Download our 6-step guide: Choosing the right Channels for Customer Service

Let the customer choose

When digital services become more accessible, there is a risk that the distance between the company and the customers grows and that the customers feel abandoned when problems arise. In recent years, the companies that get the best ratings in surveys conducted by the EPSI Rating Group are those that succeed in combining digitalization with a high degree of personal service and the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing customer needs. An example is when we recently wanted to change our email address to our website. It is primarily via email that we have our customer contacts so this could affect how our existing and new customers reach us in the future and whether they will be able to reach us at all. The company we are a customer of mainly wants us to solve it ourselves via various FAQs with guides on how to proceed to change our address. In this case, we are technically uninterested customers who would have been more reassured if we had been able to call customer service to get step by step help to do this while a more knowledgeable person probably would have been perfectly happy with this solution.

Some of us absolutely love to solve the challenge ourselves or have more knowledge to do so while others want to be able to pick up the phone and call customer service to get help. It depends on what your preferences are but also on the situation. If you want to stand out, you should be easily accessible in several different channels so customers can make their own choice.

According to the study Global Consumer Pulse Research 63% of Swedes prefer personal contact when they seek service and advice, rather than getting help from a robot or other digital services. The study shows that you need to put the human and physical elements back into customer service and make it easy for customers to choose the channel they prefer.

Is it enough to be available in several channels?

Incredibly important for the customer experience is HOW you treat the customer, regardless of which channel the customer chooses. You need a common tone and a common way of communicating in all channels and different types of cases require different mandates, treatment and competence. If customers receive reactive service without a focus on a solution, it is irrelevant how many channels you are available in and how easy it is to get in touch with you. The human factor is what binds it all together. Employees who are professional in meeting customers in different channels are the key to excellent customer service. They are the ones who can really show that you understand the customers’ needs and can leave a positive impression of your brand.

A customer who contacts you has received or seen an offer and have expectations that you need to live up to and you can do this through these tools:

  1. The channels you choose to be in.
  2. The treatment that the customer experiences in each unique contact with you.
  3. The knowledge you possess.
  4. The processes and routines that exist.

All of the above will affect how customers experience your level of service, how well you match their expectations and how much you stand out from your competitors.

Avoid common mistakes

You create the feeling and image of the brand already in the channel choices you make. Do you need service around the clock? Do you want to provide personal service? Should it be quick to get service? This continues in the IVR, in your email auto-reply or by answering or not answering in social media. Tone and word choice in the IVR or in the auto-reply affect how the customer perceives the brand. Once the customer service employee gets to communicate with the customer, a bad tone in the IVR may have already triggered and irritated the customer. Here are some tips from us that can help you avoid some common mistakes and can be applied in all channels, in fact in all communication:

The importance of using the right words

The words used can be decisive for the whole customer experience. Whether via a chatbot, an IVR or a real person. Try to avoid words that trigger irritation and create insecurity and instead use words that are positive and focus on the present, the future and the solution.

Examples of words that in our experience are good to use:

Thank you, of course, absolutely, have a nice day.

Examples of words that in our experience are less good to use:

Must, unfortunately, can not, maybe.

Of course, the word choice needs to match the context.

The importance of tonality

Set a confident and trustworthy tone right at the beginning of the customer meeting. If suitable for your business, you can have a committed and positive tone to enhance the customer’s experience in a positive direction and avoid triggering a negative feeling.

Also, keep in mind that body language and facial expressions can often be heard even if the customer does not see the speaker on the phone or in the IVR. You can often actually hear if the person you are talking to has a committed body language or smile.

Think about which contact areas the customer has with your customer service and how you can apply the above. How your tonality is and what words you use in your chat, email, FAQ on the website, in social media and the IVR.

The importance of simplicity and solution focus

Always focus on the present, the future and the solution. If you do this in all channels without getting entangled in explanations or focusing on what can not be done, the customers will be more satisfied and you will usually avoid misunderstandings. In many cases, it can be good to offer the customer some options for solutions, at least two, so the customer gets a feeling of being part of the decision-making.

Example:

In an IVR, it can be as simple as giving the customer information about how long it is estimated to take before the call is answered. A good idea is to offer the customer the choice of waiting or to be called back.

Why is all this so important?

Simply put it has to do with how our brain works. What we usually unconsciously look for in a first impression, in a meeting, text message, email or conversation, is empathy and kindness so that we can feel safe. This is because part of our brain, which we have had for millions of years, exists to protect us and seeks security. If we sense anything similar to uncertainty or danger this part of the brain responds faster than any other part. You can avoid triggering this by having a confident tone, body language and facial expression that matches what you want to communicate and also by taking ownership.

Join the customer service revolution!

Your goal now is to find the right balance between personal service and automated service and to find the right channels for your customers and their needs. Few things are as annoying as long waiting times when you need to get in touch with customer service, so make sure that the customer can get in touch with you quickly and that there is more than one alternative for the customer to do so. Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, then choose the channels where you need to be to give your customers the best possible customer experience!

To increase customer satisfaction, download the guide and learn about how to make the right channel choices.

Download our 6-step guide: Choosing the right Channels for Customer Service

Contact us if you want to create better conditions for providing excellent customer service at your company

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