Organizations often refer to customer service as a “cost center,” or a branch of their business that does not produce a return on investment. Many companies believe that no matter how much time, money, and training they put into their customer service that there is no way of knowing if the effort is worthwhile. Therefore, why not take that money and put it into something more efficient? This has been proven to be a huge mistake. Below are some inexpensive, but powerful alternatives to traditional customer service.
Over the past several years, social media platforms – Twitter especially – have gained popularity because of their ability to efficiently address customer service problems. They are a fast way to see what your customers are saying and how they feel about you, without over-extending yourself on a full, customer service support team. Social media has helped businesses slowly understand the importance of customer service, some more than others. Positive human interaction is often what keeps customers returning to your company.
Why Investing in a Social Customer Service Team Matters:
Using social media to address customer service issues can be a key part of your strategy. The social media platforms are free, customers are already using them, and they provide a centralized location for comments and complaints.
CD Baby, the largest online distributor of independent music (worth more than $22 million) is known for its customer service. It has 85 employees, and 35% of them are dedicated to customer help. Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby, explains that their great customer service can be attributed to their devotion to human interaction. Each time a customer calls the customer service department, an employee will pick up by the second ring. That means no voicemail system, no punching any extra numbers, and no automated service. Once employees answer the phone and pull up the customers’ accounts, they learn about the customers and take an active interest not only in their immediate complaints, but also in the customers’ personal interests.
Human Interaction = Slower Service = Happy Customers
Businesses invest in fast customer service to deal with numerous customer complaints in a timely manner. Yet, fast customer service does not necessarily mean good customer service. A recent research study on the baking industry found that, though fast service was desired by customers, it was actually desired less than interaction with a happy and helpful employee. Implementing a fast response can lead to increased mistakes and carelessness, which leads to less efficiency. Your employees will have to perform the same tasks 2-3 times just to correct the mistake. The result could be a seriously unsatisfied customer or losing one altogether.
Encourage your employees to take their time with customers. Each employee should be able to devote time listening to each customer, validating their feelings of frustration, and fixing the customer’s problem. When an employee doesn’t feel rushed to fix a problem, they have the opportunity to eliminate their own frustrations and handle the situation with more control and competency.