When it comes to customer service, your business probably understands the importance of responding to consumers in a timely manner, but the platform by which your company connects to its buyers has likely changed over the past several years. While concerns, complaints and suggestions have conventionally been handled over the phone, digital services have made these forms of customer service a thing of the past.
Nowadays, consumers prefer communicating with businesses via platforms that are conducive to quick and easy responses, which include email, text messaging and live chat. Some of these avenues are more cost-effective for small businesses than others, so consider how your brand can improve its customer service ventures throughout the new year.
Consumers prefer live chat
According to a survey recently conducted by eDigitalResearch, only 24 percent of consumers have used live chat within the last year, but the satisfaction rates were highest among customers who used this platform. It's particularly popular with consumers who are in a different time zone or do not like waiting for a representative over the phone, as it allows them to quickly address simple concerns.
Email offers similar benefits for your consumers, but it lacks the swift personal contact your website visitors may be seeking. However, through this platform, your customers have the ability to flesh out concerns or comments in longer form. This also permits your business a slightly longer time frame to respond, as consumers will expect your customer service representatives to fully address any points of the email.
No two consumers are the same
While people have begun to prefer digital communications, a wide range of online consumers still prefer talking to agents over the phone or bringing up concerns via social media. For these reasons, small-business owners should be sure to expand their customer service capabilities across a range of platforms. A separate study - the 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey conducted by Parature - found that while 43 percent of consumers preferred chatting with representatives over the phone, 22 percent requested email, 18 percent wanted live chat, 7 percent preferred in-person discussions and 2 percent leaned toward social networks.
Don't limit your brand to one particular avenue for customer service. Try setting up a staple email address for concerns, but offer a phone number for live discussions as well. Addressing concerns on social media should already be ingrained in your business' social strategy, as responding to concerns in a timely manner on public sites is imperative for improving your company's online reputation.
One customer service platform that has become more popular recently is texting. Not many brands have implemented this strategy, but those who have report increased satisfaction among consumers. HeyWire Business conducted a study in April 2014, learning that more than 52 percent of the brand's consumers would enjoy texting a representative instead of speaking with one over the phone. There are many sites that offer small-business owners the tools needed to implement such a program. If you're not sure how your customers would react, consider having a trial period during which people can text concerns.