No matter what your industry, customer service is a key to success. From the old days of Public Switched Telephone Network dominance to the modern era of apps and social media, customer service has taken many forms – but the foundational principles have never changed. Here are five steps to improving customer service.
Incorporate SMS Messaging
Marketers have been capitalizing on the power of text messaging for more than 20 years. SMS, however, is still drastically underutilized as a customer service tool. Use text messaging to enable customers to message representatives directly and in real time without having to call or log onto a live chat session. Text messaging can also be used to improve the shipping process by using SMS as a means to update customers on when their package is shipped, when it leaves a facility and when it arrives or is delivered.
Use Post-Call Surveys
As discussed in the article “5 Ways to Serve Customers Better: Your Phone System Can Make the Difference,” what you do after the call matters almost as much as what your representative does while engaging the customer. IP phone systems can be programmed to conduct post-call surveys, which give you a chance to gauge the performance of your representatives and to pinpoint areas where you could improve.
Call Forwarding: Sequential and Simultaneous Dialing
Get a strong IP phone network that offers a wide menu of options for call routing and call forwarding. Two of the most important forwarding options for customer service are sequential dialing and simultaneous dialing, both of which reduce wait times, prevent misdirected calls and all but eliminate instances of dropped calls.
Sequential dialing rings a series of lines in a predetermined sequence. If the primary line can’t be answered, the call is automatically forwarded to the second line, the third, and so on. Simultaneous dialing rings several lines at the same time. When the call is answered by any representative, it stops ringing on the other lines.
Call Forwarding: Time-of-Day Routing
Also, consider using time-of-day routing, which routes called depending on the time of day or the day of week that they were placed. This is a great way to get around problems associated with time zones and geography. If a call comes in after your East Coast office closes at 5 PM, have the call routed to your West Coast office, which are still open. If a call is placed on a holiday, have it routed to the mobile phone of a telecommuting freelance representative.
Work the Hashtags
It is not news that social media is a major playing field for customer service – whether you have a comprehensive social strategy or not. Whether you’re a physician or a plumber, both glowing reviews and scathing critiques are likely to land on the big social media sites first – especially when a customer feels voiceless or powerless. Dishonest competitors have even been known to pose as a rival’s customer on social media and create slanderous posts.
It is critical to have a dedicated person or team committed to monitoring social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Watch for @mentions and hashtag mentions related to your business, your brand or your name. Use negative posts as a way to mitigate and appease the customer.
Customer service is a constantly evolving industry – but one that is always crucial to success in any industry. No matter how much technology evolves, the phone is still the first line of defense. Today’s sophisticated customers, however, expect phone systems to be automated and streamlined – busy signals or voicemails are never acceptable. Work the forwarding options and don’t forget to incorporate both social media and text messaging as low-cost, yet powerful additions to your customer service strategy.