8 Keys to Mastering Online Customer Service

Customer service used to be solely about calling a 1-800 number and listening to elevator music for 8 minutes until a representative picked up. Not anymore. According to Customer Thermometer’s Customer Service Stats for 2019:

  • 63% of millennials begin their customer service interactions online. Microsoft
  • 57% of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. Ameyo

At the rate we’re moving and with Millennials becoming a significant buying cohort, online customer service may replace call centers (and elevator music) in the future. Users will be engaged by tech support before they even know they have a problem. Instead of turning to their telephone, consumers will turn to Google to find the answers they’re looking for.

Online customer service is a critical differentiator for business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands.

67% of consumers and 74% of business buyers say they’ll pay more for a great experience.  Salesforce

While brands are under increasing pressure to deliver superior online customer support, they are faced with the fact that online service is far more complex than simply responding to emails and picking up the phone. It’s an all encompassing online strategy, a method for helping customers find the answers they need quickly and efficiently.

To help brands achieve excellence in this critical customer-facing function, we’ve shared our 8 Keys to Mastering Online Customer Service.

1. A Comprehensive FAQ Page

A comprehensive frequently asked questions, or support page is the backbone of any online customer service initiative. This is especially true in our case. we sell a product (IT status pages) that people may or may not know exactly how to use.

Another benefit of a thorough FAQ page is the time freed up for employees who would typically handle customer service calls or emails. Of course, there will be times when a customer has a legitimate question or a unique challenge that requires answering, but in our experience the vast majority of callers ask the same five or six questions, which can be quickly answered on a support page.

2. Install Live Chat Software

Live chat software has limitless potential for your business. Why?

  • It’s a convenient way for users to get answers to questions. The number one reason people leave websites (and don’t purchase your product or service) is because they can’t find the answers they’re looking for.

  • It does not impact design. It can hide subtly in the corner of your website, like ours does.

  • It helps boost sales. Forrester Research concludes that live chat increases online sales by 105%….that’s alot!

  • It provides insight into customer frustrations. If you find that customers are often asking the same question you may be able to identify a company or site wide issue requiring immediate attention.

3. Utilize Social Media Software

Leveraging social media software like Hootsuite breathes life into your brand’s online profile. We’re in the midst of a true brand expectation renaissance. Consumers don’t want to be marketed to, they want to engage with their favorite brands on their “own terms.”

In terms of online customer service, social media software allows you to monitor multiple networks, boosting responsiveness with customers and prospects. Social media software also gives you the opportunity to respond to customer frustration and offer a solution. More often than not, when users post to social media with complaints or frustrations – a friendly message or comment can turn negative online public relations into masterful online customer service.

4. Website User Experience

User experience and customer service are increasingly intertwined. So much so that customer user experience has become a mainstream term. Customer user experience is the all encapsulating phrase describing a customer’s journey from discovery, to purchase, to use. There are a few things you can do on your website to enhance customer experience.

  • Make your site easy to navigate. Perhaps one the most underrated facets of customer service is web user experience. If a user lands on a website and doesn’t immediately know how to seamlessly move throughout the site, they will quickly leave. Make your website easy to navigate. Browsing a website should be an enjoyable process, not a miserable one.

  • Ensure high value content is clearly visible. Content that is of high value to the customer should always be readily available. Let’s say you run an online candle store: If your best selling product is organic candles, the page with the organic candle product listings should be one click away from anywhere on your site.

  • Make sure your site is multi-platform optimized. Buyers browse the web from devices of all shapes and sizes — from smart watches to smart TV’s. Responsive or adaptive design is an excellent way to be sure users can utilize your website anywhere, anytime on-the-go.

5. Configure Google Analytics Site Search

Ensure Google Analytics is installed and configured on your website (if you don’t have it setup, we highly recommend doing so).  Leveraging your site search data is a powerful tool for valuable user insight. Knowing what visitors are looking for within your site answers a lot of questions you may have. Is my navigation bar useful?  Does my website contain all of the content that people are searching for?  You can also use the site search data to discover new content ideas and find questions to add to your FAQ page.

6. Be Human. Be Helpful

It’s easy to overlook being personable and genuinely wanting to help someone and improve their online customer service experience.  Having an employee on the other line of a customer service call isn’t enough anymore.  Support representatives should be incentivized and actually want to help customers.

Some web users, especially older ones,  find it hard to trust online fronts due to the lack of a human interaction. Be sure to include your face and your employees’ faces on your website. Let users know that they are purchasing a product or a service from an actual person just like them.

7. Online Customer Testimonials

Marc Zuckerberg said it best “People influence people.  Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend”.  Although your customer testimonials may not feature a trusted friend, its still a very effective way to build brand trust.

90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews when buying a product. Zendesk

The best way to get online customer testimonials is to reach out to satisfied customers and ask them for a testimonial (you don’t get anything in life if you don’t ask for right?).  Encourage them to speak candidly about their experience, the product or the service provided. Be sure to reward customers who offer testimonials, it’s well worth the cost.

8. Offer Knowledge

If a customer were to walk into a shop needing assistance, they would quickly be able to discern which employees are knowledgeable about their products and which aren’t.

The same is true for online customer service in your digital store.  Users can tell when content is spammy and/or doesn’t provide the depth they were looking for. When web consumers make a purchase, it’s often from websites that taught them something; after all, teaching is the quickest way to build credibility.

Make sure that all of your products and services pages are thoroughly detailed and highlight every feature. In the age of information, customers want just that…information. Give them that information honestly, with personality and with their best interest in mind — and you’ll have a reputation for providing the best online customer service in your market segment.

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