Like most customer service professionals, you want to give your customers a great experience with your business. You know that better customer service leads to more enduring relationships which leads to a greater return on customer. It’s a straight line to increased value.

Sadly, however, you’ll also know that, traditionally, good customer service costs. It can be both time and labour intensive. Especially now that customers expect near instant answers and 24/7 availability no matter whether they contact you by phone, email, web, social or live chat.

The problem comes into sharp relief when, at the same time that customer demands are increasing, the business is demanding you spend less on your customer service operation. For many, it’s nothing short of a classic Catch 22 situation.

So what can you do?

Rethinking what good service really means

The good news is that, today, it needn’t be a case of declining expense inevitably leading to declining service. By evolving the way you serve customers, you could deliver better service in more places for less.

Importantly, this doesn’t always mean having more of your people available more of the time. Many customers are happy to self-serve what they need – as long as you make this an intuitive, pain-free experience. Just as many are happy to get support from other customers (some enjoy giving support too).

The key is to have the infrastructure in place to enable this to happen. With the right systems and processes in place, you could go beyond simply offering good service and on to growing your own brand advocates.

Three ways to square the cost:service equation

There are many ways you can transform your customer service operations to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. We are, of course, assuming your current operations aren’t fundamentally broken – if that’s the case, you’ll have more immediate issues to address (and quick). But if everything is working at a basic level, we’d suggest three areas to look at next:

 1.     Make your contact centre social

Having one team or system for phone and email support and another for social (or worse, ignoring social altogether) is a recipe for disaster. Instead, bring the whole lot together. It’ll give your agents a better view of a customer’s issues and case history. Your customers will get a more joined-up approach and won’t have to re-explain what’s happened before. Everyone wins.

2.     Create and nurture customer communities

All customers are not created equal. Some need hand-holding through the simplest of tasks, others just need pointing at relevant documentation. Some want to speak to one of your experts, others as we mention above, are happy to get advice from another customer. By creating and, importantly, nurturing an online customer community, you can enable all your customers to get the level of service they want without necessarily spending more on expanding your current systems and headcount.

3.     Go where your customers are

Yes, many people will come straight to your contact centre (or at least your website) when they have an issue they need help resolving. Increasingly, however, their first stop will be social media. Now, there’s no reason why you can’t integrate these questions into your case queue – even prioritising questions by sentiment and influence if you wish – and seeking to resolve their issues right there on their network of choice.

These three steps will enable you to deliver a more responsive, more integrated customer service offering. But, of course, that’s just the start.

Taking customer service to the next level

By moving to a more integrated, cloud-based approach to customer service, you’ll not only be able to lower your overall costs, you’ll also see a wealth of other benefits.

Your first ‘call’ resolution will go up because your agents will have everything they need to hand. You’ll see internal process improvements as everything will finally be joined up. Your people will be able to share their knowledge more easily (and find out what they need to know faster, for less effort). And you’ll see exactly how everything is performing with easy-to-use dashboards.

Speaking of results, when we asked our customers what moving to cloud-based customer service has done for their operations, the results were compelling:

  • Over half saw both increased loyalty and additional revenue
  • 70% reported increased customer satisfaction and 63% increased customer retention
  • And 64% reduced their sales, service, marketing or other operational costs

So, you see, with some smart customer service hacking, it is possible to do more with less and delight your customers in the process. Download our free Driving Down Customer Service Costs eBook to find out more. 

Drive down customer service costs eBook