As any business owner will tell you, customer service can make or break a company. Good customer service practices are not simply a matter of common courtesy, but something that can have a direct effect on a business’ bottom line. And though the nature of retail has certainly shifted over the past few years, the customer experience will never stop being central in a free market.
Customer service has always been a significant factor in the ultimate success or failure of a business, but since the rise of ecommerce, it has become more crucial than ever before. According to one report, 60 percent of consumers have not completed an intended purchase as a direct result of a poor customer service experience. That has resulted in an estimated $83 billion in lost sales for retailers.
Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly essential to do more than just encourage your customer service reps to be nice to customers. Most managers or executives will now actively plan and implement customer service strategy throughout their company. Customer service cannot be vague and reactive. Rather, businesses need to have a plan of action in place in order to forge a culture of proactive customer service, and establish a brand that garners loyalty.
What is customer service strategy? Otherwise known as customer experience strategy, this is the name given to a plan that is put in place for improving the average customer’s experience with the company. As such, creating customer service strategy usually focuses on:
Meeting or exceeding customer expectations of your product/service.
Adequately addressing customers’ problems.
Improving customer interactions, both in-store and online.
The best customer service strategy will accomplish each of these key goals. But how does one create a strategy that does that? What are the specific features needed to create such a plan? Here are a few key features to focus on when building an effective customer service strategy.
Increasingly, all three of these customer experience strategy goals are grouped together with a singular goal — creating a personalized “customer journey.” In a recent survey, 86 percent of senior marketers said that it was either absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey.
Why? In the age of online retail, customers now have more options than ever before for how to interact with a business. And whether that interaction is in person or online, the experience should always be consistent with a company’s specific brand voice and image. So, for example, when a customer goes online to ask a question about a product that they recently purchased in-store, they should receive the same friendly guidance that they did in person. If a company cannot provide this kind of cohesive journey, it risks losing that customer’s business to a competitor.
When asked about customer service experiences, respondents stated that 51 percent of the time they have to re-explain their issue. This means that most people are only getting the customer service that they want about half of the time, as a result of customer service reps that do not understand them. An effective customer service management strategy involves implementing thorough training programs to make sure that every person in the company knows the brand inside and out, and is well prepared to act as a representative of that brand each time they interact with a customer.
Much of what will inform that training is the understanding that a company has of its customers, and their specific wants and needs. Most people are looking to do business with a company that can anticipate their demands, and deliver. Above all else, people are looking for companies that understand them. For this reason, a good customer service strategy will use customer data to get a full view of each customer, and understand what makes them tick. This creates a situation where, when a customer reaches out to the business, someone is ready with the answers before they even ask the question.
If anyone was looking for more proof of just how much the internet age has affected retail, they need only consider that 90 percent of consumers state that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. This huge percentage means that delivering a good product is more essential than ever, as well as proper customer service. The best businesses, however, are able to deal with these sorts of problems proactively. They can do this by targeting reviews in their customer service strategy — encouraging positive reviews after purchase — and by providing services that anticipate and solve queries before they become problems, through the use of self service customer portals for example.
It is estimated that 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. What this means is that customer service technology now has the potential to be more sophisticated than ever before. A large amount of customer data can be collected and analyzed, allowing businesses to get a fuller view of each customer — and each transaction — and act accordingly. These sort of solutions also allow for more efficient management of customer service, making the job easier for customer service reps, and providing a much more satisfying result for customers.
One such solution is Salesforce Desk. Desk.com is an out-of-the-box customer service app that provides an all-in-one solution for each of the key aspects of a good customer service strategy. Among the tools available are productivity tools, a self service portal, business insights, and more. What really sets Desk apart however, is the ability to link up with other Salesforce solutions to provide a 360 view of the customer and efficient communication between departments such as sales, marketing and customer service, allowing them to sync in a cost-effective manner.
All of this works to facilitate the ideal 1-to-1 customer journey, whether your business is a small startup of a Fortune 500 company. Check out Salesforce Desk today, to see how it can boost your company’s customer service strategy. Discover which options would be the best for your needs and learn more about how to implement best practices.
The best way to see how Salesforce is revolutionizing customer service is with a guided tour of Service Cloud. With the guided tour, we can show you how Service Cloud shines in several common use cases and scenarios.
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