Providing a high level of customer service is vital for any business, regardless of the industry. With the increasing use of digital media, new issues have arisen that companies need to tackle. Websites and social media can be beneficial to a business, but there is also the potential for them to negatively impact on a company if not handled correctly.
Customer Service Principles
However you operate, the principles of customer service remain the same. Itís vital that you are transparent and honest at all times. Customers might not always want to hear the truth, but it creates a more reliable persona. Customer service is about being as helpful and knowledgeable as possible, so you should understand exactly what your business could offer. Any customer service system needs to be simple to use, to keep communication open and give the customer trust in what you do.
The Challenges Of The Digital Age
Even if you get all the basic principles right, you will still come across challenges that are particular to the digital era. There are online sources that provide help in digital customer service methods, such as the blog by David Kiger. This includes looking at the traditional view that the customer is always right, which can cause issues in the digital age with complaints appearing instantly on social media or websites.
Customers can easily submit reviews on your products or services quickly with online systems. These can be through your own site or on a review portal, such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. The majority of these are likely to be positive, but even one negative comment can damage your reputation.
If you do receive a negative review, itís vital that you respond quickly to the issue. This will highlight that you value the customer and care about the experience that theyíve had. It may be better to deal with it offline, but however you communicate you should always remain polite.
Social Media Presence
Customers expect businesses to have some presence on social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. This can be a quick method of communicating with customers and keeping them up to date on new products or promotions. However, it can also open up the business to negativity and lead to mixed messages being communicated.
One way of using social media effectively for customer service is to have separate accounts from the companyís official pages. This enables you to deal with service issues out of the spotlight. When youíre communicating through social media, you need to ensure customers are dealing with a human, rather than providing automated responses. The conversation should be free flowing and avoid scripted scenarios.
Another customer service dilemma in the digital age is the need to be available 24-hours a day. Customers can access your website at any time and they now expect people to deal with their problems throughout the day as well.
Even with small businesses itís important that someone is in charge of handling your online and social media presence. Any queries or online comments should instantly be sent to the appropriate email account, so that they can be dealt with quickly. Itís not always possible to provide a 24-hour service, but you do need to manage customer expectations. It should be clear when your support service is available and any problems that arise outside of these times should be dealt with first thing.
By handling your online accounts correctly you can make them a valuable customer service tool. They can help to support the business and make it more successful, but used inappropriately they can also contribute in a negative way.