Today, more businesses than ever are ramping up their customer service game. A lot of this is due to the immediacy of social media—when one negative experience can be shared with your company’s entire fan base (and beyond), it’s a pretty strong motivator to keep each and every customer satisfied.
But beyond social media, more businesses are finally getting that the old way of doing business just doesn’t apply anymore. Modern-day customers expect a certain level of responsiveness and ease of communication that wasn’t part of the conversation 10 years ago, or even 5.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean that customer service has gotten any easier or less nuanced. Step 1 toward the goal of delivering great customer support is to figure out how to connect with customers in the way that works best for them—not by stubbornly sticking to whichever way works best for you.
Defusing Conflict with Choices
Offering plenty of choices is one of the best ways to head off customer dissatisfaction at the pass. Would your customers rather contact you via online website form, or pick up the phone? Are they fans of a live website chat feature, sending text messages, or do they prefer traditional email? Make sure to leave plenty of opportunity to meet a range of varying customer preferences.
One caveat to this advice, though: don’t offer so many ways to get in touch that your responsiveness suffers as a result. For example, it’s great if you’ve got a way for customers to tweet you an information request, but the point is moot if you’re not on top of maintaining your Twitter account. Strike a reasonable balance between a decent level of variety and a realistic level of response.
On a similar note, adopting a company-wide policy that applies the exact same response type to every inquiry indiscriminately is a surefire way to displease most of the people all of the time. This is especially true if you’re addressing an unhappy customer; ignoring a client’s contact preferences just adds to the impression that you’re failing to acknowledge what that customer really needs and wants.
Customize Your Customer Support
Like everything else about marketing, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution that works for every aspect of customer contact. You’ll need to have multiple ways for the customer to get in touch with you, and all those ways need to allow you to respond in a timely fashion.
Whether you’re answering a query from a prospective new client or improving your relationship with an existing one, respect your customer’s time and your own by connecting with them as efficiently as possible in the way that they want. No matter how much your customers love you, they don’t want to spend all day tangled up in your customer support.