The Dos and Don’ts of Customer Service in 2016

Authored by Kayla Brehm

Published on February 1, 2016

We’re only a few weeks into January and already brands are setting expectations for a year of thoughtful experiences. Online retailer, Zulily, made headlines recently not for funding or financials, but for genuinely “wowing” a customer. Stories like this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Gartner reported that 89% of companies plan on competing primarily on customer experience alone this year.

With an added emphasis on customer experience this year, it’s important to evaluate your current program. Are you prepared? What more can you do? What should you avoid to join the competitive market?

Do, get personal

Customized messaging and a personalized customer experience rank as the leading marketing priority for 46% of marketing and communications executives worldwide. As a customer, are you more likely to respond to an email or newsletter titled “Dear Customer” or “Dear Kayla”? 40% of consumers buy more from retailers who personalize the shopping experience across channels. Take note.

Don’t, ignore social media

Think about the last time you had a really great, or really terrible, customer service experience. Did you tweet about it? Share the experience on Facebook?

67% of companies believe that social customer service is the most pressing short-term priority. Why? Because we live in a social and public world, and it’s our natural instinct to share our experiences with our peers. If it’s not a glowing review of that restaurant you just went to, it’s the awful experience with your airline or cable provider. Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand. But the reverse is also true. If you ignore your customers online, you increase your risk of customer churn by 15%.

Do, set your customers up for success

“In 2015, we found that web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist channels, which are increasingly used by customers as escalation paths to answer harder questions whose answers they can’t find online. In 2016, customer service organizations will make self-service easier for customers to use by shoring up its foundations and solidifying their knowledge-management strategy.” (Forrester)

More and more customers want to be able to resolve an issue without escalation or speaking to a representative of your company. In 2015, we saw more production and use of knowledge bases and FAQ sections. These self-help portals allow customers to figure out some issues on their own. You know they’re looking, so help them find the answers they need.

Don’t, forget about mobile

Mobile customer service has been an upward trend for years. Smart phones are getting smarter, and as such customers are using them for more than calling or texting. Customer service needs to be seamless on mobile now to provide a consistent experience across all channels.

Do, be authentic

Customers want to know you’re a human too. Encourage your customer service team members to be themselves. Don’t restrict them to the usage of common phrases like “Dear Sir” or “our deepest apologies”. Let them use the language and words they feel comfortable with (within reason). Netflix does this really well. In giving freedom to their customer service agents, they’ve found a secret ingredient that surprises and delights.

Don’t, ignore your employees

Your employees have the power to make or break the customer experience. Treat them well.

“Engaged employees go the extra mile to deliver. Their enthusiasm rubs off on other employees and on customers. They provide better experiences for customers, approach the job with energy—which enhances productivity—and come up with creative product, process and service improvements. They remain with their employer for longer tenures, which reduces turnover and its related costs. In turn, they create passionate customers who buy more, stay longer and tell their friends—generating sustainable growth.” (Bain & Company)

Make 2016 the year of not only your customer, but your employees.

Do, consider user generated content

According to Sprinklr, user generated content, like a positive review, will surpass branded content in importance this year. We trust our peers and look to actual experiences for information rather than suggested branded content.

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