As 2019 is coming to an end, it’s the perfect time for its evaluation - and coming up with a new customer service strategy on top of that. If that’s on your to-do list for the New Year as well, here’s how to draw conclusions from your previous efforts and get your customer support ready for 2020 (and years to come).
For both B2B and B2C sectors, customer support is one of the most crucial aspects when it comes to business growth. By enhancing overall customer experience, any company can strengthen relationships with clients, build trust and increase customer lifetime value in the long run. If you’re already aware of the importance of customer support for your business, it’s high time to take it to the next level. And the New Year is the perfect time for that!
In fact, the best way to start is to evaluate your previous efforts. By running a detailed analysis of your customer support activities, you can identify bottlenecks, solve internal issues and enhance your strategy to get better results in the future. The year 2020 is just around the corner, so read on to find out how to get ready to kick it off with a brand new set of tactics.
How to audit your customer support efforts
Before you even start thinking about the New Year, you need to take a closer look at the previous one. How was it for your customer support team? If there was anything that could’ve been done better, it’s the best time to learn a lesson from your mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again. That’s precisely what an audit can help you with.
Where to start customer support audit? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the actual cost of providing customer service in your business?
- How many contact options your company offers to its clients? Is that enough for your customers? Is there any important channel missing?
- Who are your customers, and what are the most common issues they encounter?
- Is your customer service an integrated part of your marketing and sales strategies?
- Does your team have access to all the essential information about your customers?
- Do employees understand the importance of providing outstanding support?
- Is your staff competent and well-trained?
- Do you have enough employees to provide brilliant support for your customers?
- Do you conduct regular staff meetings to cover common customer service issues?
- Do you follow up to find out if you delivered a good service to your customers?
Once you figure that out, it’s time to take a closer look at the available metrics. Your strategy should always stem from data-driven decisions and forecasts, which is why you should measure the performance of your customer support team at all times. Here are a few KPIs that you might want to consider:
- Agent Performance
- First Call Resolution
- Average Speed of Answer
- Ratio of answered calls to unanswered calls
- Customer Satisfaction
- Number of complaints in a given period
- Average Handle Time
By analyzing such data, you can make informed decisions regarding any aspects of your customer support. If you do not measure your team's performance, you should definitely start using tools that can gather data and generate reports for you. In-depth research can help you identify your customer's pain points and find out if they are satisfied with delivered service. After you have all numbers and conclusions ready, you should take action and rethink your strategy for 2020.
How to rock customer support in 2020
Given the current trends and statistics, there are plenty of ways you can take advantage of in 2020 to improve your customer support:
Write a clear mission statement
Start with setting customer service standards for your business - or, even better, with a mission statement. What is it, exactly? "A mission statement articulates a company's purpose. It announces to the world at large why your company exists. Every business should have a mission statement as a way of unifying the organization."
The reason behind it is to let your customers know what they should expect from your business, and make sure your employees are willing to make that happen. This way, you can not only achieve outstanding support, but also a consistent one.
The only issue here is that the mission statement can be only helpful when its preached in an organization, and clear to your customer support team. Once employees realize how customers should perceive a brand, it is more likely that they will effectively help to achieve that. Make sure your team is aware of the importance of the customer-centric approach, and the way how you want to meet the clients’ expectations.
Exceed customer expectations
Do not stop delighting your clients. Your customer support standards are one thing (and they are necessary in today’s customer-driven world!), but it’s good to exceed them every once in a while. It will help you delight your customers and stand out from the competition - as long as you offer additional value and treat your customers better than anyone else. For sure it will be challenging, but with a set of the right tools and skilled team, you can work wonders!
For example, you can surprise your customers with an extra gift or write a unique, personalized letter with apologies if they had a reason to complain about the service. This small gestures can easily win your customers' hearts and turn them into loyal brand ambassadors - even without a proper customer loyalty program.
It might not seem like it at first, but so-called magic words, such as "please", "thank you" are crucial when it comes to communicating with customers. Make sure your employees know how significant are such words and use them in every interaction with your clients.
Create a smart contact centre
Even though many customers might have had negative experiences with calls and customer support in the past, you can still change their opinion on this form of contact! Nowadays, you can find call centre solutions that offer many helpful features besides Voice over IP (VoIP), that can easily help you serve your customers better.
For example, CloudTalk provides a multi-level Interactive Voice Response Menu and an option to direct a caller to a prefered agent. Thanks to such features, your customers will always talk to right agents - for example, the ones that are already familiar with the case.
Let’s face it, though - calls are not the only way your customers might want to contact you. In fact, 63% of researched customers expect companies to offer support via social media, while 47% say that texting would improve their overall customer experience. These preferences might be slightly different, depending on your customers. That’s precisely why you should know their expectations first before you pick the customer support channels you want to leverage in 2020.
“We live in the digital era when customers value their time more than ever. Today, it’s easy to solve problems on the go and people don’t want to waste much time on getting their questions answered. With the popularity of social media platforms, customer service expectations have changed. Around 90% of users follow at least one brand on social media, and they turn to their business profiles once they have questions or customers’ requests. Big brands like ASOS and Airbnb have realized the importance of customer service on social media, so they monitor comments, direct messages, and brand mentions to solve customer requests. Not only does it help to increase customer loyalty and trust, but it also helps to stay one step ahead of your competitors. Simply put, providing customer service on social media isn’t an option in 2020.”
Hugh Beaulac, Content Manager and SMM Consultant at MC2
No matter the exact channels you take advantage of, it’s important to provide seamless and consistent customer support across all of them. Why is that? Simply because 75% of today’s consumers expect a consistent customer service experience at every point of contact. This might not be easy to accomplish, but it’s definitely worth the effort in the long run. Here’s our piece on providing outstanding omnichannel support, in case you’re interested.
"Heading into 2020 it is clear that customers are becoming more conscious about their buying behaviour. It is no longer only about building and marketing the best product, but also about being extremely interactive with your potential target group. That comes down to answering their questions and concerns in real-time, as fast as possible, and learning about their behaviour in order to adjust your message and offering. This also means the introduction of the hybrid customer support service including chatbots, live chats, messaging, and email. In 2020 businesses are going to have to focus heavily on introducing AI and machine learning technologies to their system, and educating their staff on how to use them.”
Kas Szatylowicz, Content Manager at DigitalOlympus
Help your customers to find solutions on their own
Nowadays, customers require immediate answers - but not everyone likes talking on the phone with strangers. On the other hand, they also seek an expert's advice, which is why you should ensure that your website is intuitive enough and has all the relevant details. Even though almost every company has at least the FAQ section featured on their site - such sections are often very basic.
In 2020, update your FAQs and think outside the box on how to make it more attractive and popular among your website visitors. For example, you could use chatbots in Messenger or the live chat on your website, so that it automatically handles repetitive and straightforward questions. Why should you?
Chatbots provide an instant response around the clock. They are never too busy nor tired - they can respond immediately to your customers at any given time. Some questions are much more common and therefore can be asked multiple times, which means that you can have some answers ready and help your customers without involving your support team. It’s basically a win-win situation: your customers get relevant answers, while your team saves time on problems that can be easily solved.
Plus, chatbots can also step in to provide links to relevant source material on your website when the agents are unavailable. If the problems are more complex, though, customers can also request help from an agent in a single click - which means that they don’t have to turn to other channels to get their doubts resolved.
“According to Outgrow’s prediction in 2018, around 80% of businesses globally will somehow use chatbot automation by 2020. It’s mostly because chatbots offer 2 major things that elevate your overall customer service: personalisation and automation.
Today, your customers want you to do a little more homework than addressing them by their first names. Customers want you to sell them what they prefer, what they have been looking for and a chatbot can effectively do so. Similarly, chatbots are fast and accurate. Your customers don’t have to wait in line for their turn, they get an instant response to their queries and they love it. According to Hubspot, 47% of chatbot users are happy about bots resolving their issues. Not just regular FAQs, they are open to making purchases through chatbots and do not have any trust issues that we often stigmatize with AI.
So if you still haven’t considered Chatbots as customer service enhancement, 2020 might be the time you do.”
Areeba Khan, Content Manager at Botsify
For even more complicated issues, you can always experiment with video explainers. That way, your customers can also “meet” your customer support team, and see who’s responsible for the overall experience first-hand.
“Some of today’s customers will prefer a tangible point of contact. They might not want to talk on the phone and share their problems openly - instead, they want to get help from people they can get to know and trust.
One solution to achieve this is to offer video support. There are multiple ways to provide this kind of customer service. The easiest way is to provide pre-recorded video material. Of course, these materials won’t always solve your customers’ problems. On top of that, you can also provide live video support via video conferencing solutions to connect with your customers in a really personal way.”
James Davis, Head of Marketing at Messagely
Brace yourself for the busy seasons
While designing a customer support strategy, remember about the hectic seasons, such as Christmas or Black Friday. A rapidly increasing number of transactions can analogically result in increased problems to solve and therefore, more incoming calls and messages. Identify the busiest periods for your industry and your company, in particular, to prepare in advance. Consider all possible solutions - such as hiring additional staff or investing in more powerful tools.
In fact, proper software can easily help you automate plenty of processes and handle even the busiest seasons with no problems. If possible, improve your chatbots, FAQs, call centre scripts and knowledge base to provide your team with the latest information and additional help. Make sure your infrastructure can handle an increased number of calls and messages.
Get your customer support team ready for 2020
Basically, to get the best results, you should audit the performance of your team, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and come up with a brand new strategy with your customers and current trends in mind. We hope that the tips listed above will help you make your clients happy and ease your customer support efforts in 2020. Good luck!