There’s been a lot written about how social media increases customer engagement, thus leading to better customer service...
Is it true?
Like most things in life, the truth is somewhere in between, it all boil down to the business owner’s attitude towards customer service and the effective execution of well thought out strategies.
While some businesses have reap the rewards of well executed social media strategies by owners who take customer service seriously, others on the other hand, totally mishandled it by not taking complaints seriously until something blow up on social media.
It’s almost as though these businesses choose to mis-use social media to recalibrate their customer service to a lower level, by ignoring complaints that come in through other traditional channels like phone calls or emails, reacting only when a complaint goes viral.
We’ve all seen this, especially on facebook and may have even experience it ourselves... And one have to wonder what is the business owner thinking?
So how can you improve your customer service, social media or otherwise?
Here are 3 steps you should take immediately:
Step 1. Understanding Lifetime Value of a customer
Start by working out your Lifetime Value of a customer. Increasing customer Lifetime Value results in higher sales at lower costs. In fact, it is often quoted in multiple studies getting a new customer is 6 times more expensive than retaining a current one. When your attitude towards lifetime value changes, your attitude towards customer retention, ie, customer service, changes along with it, that is a start, and a necessary start. I have not seen any businesses providing good customer service where the owner doesn't believe in providing it. None.
Step 2.Empower your customer service staff by giving them discretionary power to solve the most common complaints
Train and empower your customer service reps with discretionary authority to decide on common issues raised by customers. In big corporates, customers are often frustrated that call centres usually only log complaints and issue report numbers, with vague promises of getting back to the customer. In smaller companies, customers are frustrated customer service rep need to ‘check with the boss’ and call back.
If your reps have the ability to decide on the most common issues and give your customers a solution immediately, you change the perception towards your business immediately. Lifetime value inevitably goes up.
An online business I buy from regularly is iherb.com. Like most online businesses, their policies are very clear, they are not responsible for damages in shipping, taxes and the other e-commerce related issues. However, as a customer, I am pleasantly & shockingly surprised that their reps, whether via facebook messenger or on their website, can immediately decide on-the-spot to refund damaged items and they do it instantaneously, the refund is immediately reflected. This is despite their policy saying otherwise. They have me as a loyal customer and the last I checked, they are one of the world's biggest seller of health products.
What are the most common complaints in your business, how many of those can your staff be empowered and authorized to solve on the spot without referring or escalating higher up? Work out a list with a plan to train and empower.
Step 3. Scripting is necessary, but so is flexibility and ability to empathize.
How often have you had a rep tell you, whether over the phone or facebook chat or email, “Sir, I understand how you feel and if I am in the same situation I will feel exactly the same way” and you want to scream at the rep to just shut up and get on with it, because you know the rep is reading off a script without genuine empathy?
Businesses need scripts, no question about it. You need sales scripts, closing scripts, customer service scripts, etc. Scripts create consistency in your business. Scripts allow you to measure, refine and improve on performance. Scripting is an essential component of a scalable business.
However, scripts are not meant to be memorized and spewed out. They are meant to be practiced, internalized and spoken with conviction, adapted to the speaker's natural style, which then automatically comes across as genuine.
So if you are currently using scripts in your customer service, train, practice, role play until your reps own the scripts. If you are not currently using scripts, start now, you probably need to engage a professional’s help, but remember it doesn’t end with the scripts written, it’s a starting point towards consistency.
Use social media effectively as part of your arsenal to engage your customers and increase your customer lifetime value, ie, your profit. Follow the 3 steps above to improve your customer service level in any medium or channel.
Don't let social media set a new low for your customer service level by letting "viral" be your cue to respond to customers.
Have a good weekend!
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