A far cry from past decades where good customer service came down to a friendly smile and helpful conversation, the current digital business landscape has created a much more intricate customer service experience. The great news is that current technology has also given us the ability to get more significant insights into what our potential customers’ preferences are and what they consider to be priorities in their customer service experiences. With some planning and dedicated implementation, you can take our digital customer service tips and best practices and use them to create more loyal and valuable customers for your business.
Understanding digital customer service
Digital customer service includes each potential customer interaction, from before they purchase through to the post-purchase phase. In 2022, 81 percent of digital consumers reported that good customer service from a company would increase the likelihood of staying loyal to that brand.
Thanks to the versatility of online commerce, digital customer service can occur via your website, email, and social media, allowing your customers to choose the platform they’re most comfortable with to connect with you. While these options have powerful benefits, business owners need to be on the ball to monitor and provide customer service on multiple channels.
Enhancing customer awareness and engagement
Customer awareness has two sides. The first is how aware your potential and current customers are of your company, brand, and offerings. The second piece is how aware those customers are of their needs, wants, and priorities. Identifying your audience and their needs will allow you to create more customer engagement. Get to know why they would be interested in your service/product by defining your niche and your buyer persona and planning your customer journey. The more you know about your audience, the more you will know about customer engagement.
Differentiate your business
For the most part, modern consumers have many options when choosing which business to spend their money on. Instead of being confined to what’s available in your town or city, the world is now a global marketplace. This makes it even more important for business owners to have clear messages, intentions, and ways to differentiate their businesses. Create a business plan cover page to help you define your business.
Become an expert on your target market needs
- Define your niche – One of the most significant benefits of this global marketplace is that you can hone in on a very defined niche for your business and still have millions of potential customers in your audience pool. Specify who your business is for and use savvy online marketing techniques to reach customers looking for a business like yours.
- Create your buyer persona – Business owners often scoff at the need for buyer personas at the outset of a marketing journey. It can feel obvious and unnecessary to define precisely who your ideal customer is, and often, business owners feel they intuitively already know this. Going through the exercise of creating buyer personas helps to isolate specifics about your ideal customers and helps you target your marketing towards them.
Plan your customer journey
A customer journey encompasses the entire customer experience from not knowing anything about your company or your brand to where they find out about you, how they learn about you, how long it takes them to become a customer when they become a repeat customer, and if they share your brand with friends and family.
Build up your online presence
To create a strong digital brand, you’ll need to build up your online presence. Start by building up the crucial platforms if you want to be in the digital world. You could start by creating the social media that your audience uses the most and a website, as it would be your digital presence worldwide, but you will also need marketing strategies to attract your customers.
You’ll need to develop channels like networking events, blogs, search engine optimization, and a podcast or video series to drive people to your platforms.
Websites are not a “build it, and they will come” endeavor. Focus on ways to drive traffic to your site so that you can show off your excellent digital customer service. If you haven’t created a website yet, now is a good time. You could do it yourself using tools like Wix, Shopify, or WordPress, which can assist you without requiring you to understand code. Or you might pay a specialist to do it, as a website is your face to the digital world.
Online channels for customer interaction
Digital company customer service encompasses many different angles. Customer psychology has evolved immensely over the years, lending insight to business owners about how different types of people – i.e. Introverts or extroverts – prefer to interact with brands. Understanding your customer personality and consumer behavior will increase the likelihood of retaining customers who differ from one another, giving you a wider customer base.
Create an email strategy
Email marketing can get a bad rap, with spam emails and overly saturated marketing content being delivered to your inbox at an annoyingly frequent rate. The trick to email marketing is that it’s not being done well if it’s noticeable. Great email marketing provides high value for customers and potential customers in each email, creating incentives for customers to sign up for and remain on email marketing lists.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what you would value and appreciate right from the beginning. What does your buyer persona look for to subscribe to your company’s email in the first place? What do they see as value-added content in follow-up emails? On the flip side, what kind of emails would cause them to feel annoyed and unsubscribe? Taking time to map this out plan your email content, and schedule accordingly will give you a leg up in creating a successful email marketing campaign.
A great email marketing campaign begins with a successful email structure. The header, topic line, body, and footer should all be included. Additionally, create an email signature to enhance brand awareness and how you present to your customers. Finally, select a polite and kind tone in all your correspondence to provide better customer service.
When planning your email outreach campaign, using the best email outreach software to create personalized email sequences is recommended, as it will take you a lot of time to do it yourself. This software is a guide to making your job easier.
Social media tips for your customer service success
One of the biggest pitfalls business owners often find themselves in on social media is mishandling negative comments on customer service posts. Deleting negative posts or not responding at all creates a disingenuous public face that current digital customers are too savvy to believe.
The best way to handle customer service over social media is to craft a message that politely replies to any comments from customers with concerns about your product, shipping, or any other issues. This message should be friendly and acknowledge that you’re sorry they are feeling frustrated or having issues. Direct them to DM or email you with more details so you can help them to resolve it.
Live chat and chat box
Live chat on your website or social media can be a great option if you can monitor it and respond in a timely way to concerns. You could also use a free AI support chatbot from any chatbot agency to help you with your customer service. Chatbots use artificial intelligence to have real-time customer discussions, establish brand credibility, and increase engagement. Chatbots are always accessible to assist online visitors, even if you or your staff members aren’t.
If you sell a product or products that could require a more visual aid for assistance in troubleshooting or assembly, a video chat can be a great interactive way to boost your customer service. You can run an app or a plug-in that allows you to connect directly with your customers live on video, allowing you to walk them through any troubleshooting steps or questions they may have about your product. Done well, video chat can be highly personalized and effective to make your customers feel well cared for.
Self-service and help centers
A self-service source help center is like your website’s pervasive FAQ section. Building enough content to create a self-service library may take some time. If you notice a pattern in your customers’ questions or concerns with your product, it can be very helpful to create a self-service library and promote its use through social media or email.
Doing this not only helps your customers resolve their issues when they have the time to do so, but it also creates less demand for your time in responding to and communicating with customers about common issues.
Setting up ratings and reviews on your website
Most websites have plug-ins or integrations available to show user reviews from places like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other sources on your website. Doing this is a great way to build trust in your brand and directly link websites, and visitors, to past customers and their experiences. Below are a few more ideas to get you brainstorming the ways you can incorporate reviews.
- Include reviews in Google Rich Snippets
- Add a rating to each blog post
- Include user reviews and ratings
- Use the Google Places review style format
- Mobile style ratings and reviews
- Include Yelp review content
- Incorporate Facebook reviews
- Use the Google Product Review feature
Doing this is a great way to build trust in your brand, reputation, and company and gives website visitors a direct link to past customers and their experiences.
What are chatbots, and why are they helpful for digital customer service according to the experts?
Chatbots are software applications that are programmed to conduct conversations with humans by recognizing their intent, speech, and query context with the help of technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and semantic search. In customer service, the purpose of chatbots, also known as virtual assistants, is to automate customer support to provide superior experiences to digital-first customers. Top 3 reasons why chatbots are important to power digital customer service:
Instant and accurate resolutions: Customers turn to digital channels to avoid long hold and wait times involved with agent assistance. With centralized knowledge base integration, chatbots are able to retrieve relevant information from the knowledge pool and deliver accurate resolutions to customers instantly.
Enable customer self-service: 90% of global customers expect brands to provide an online self-service portal. Unlike agents, chatbots do not need rest and can work flawlessly 24/7. This ensures round-the-clock customer support and increases customer satisfaction with self-service. Accordingly, to Microsoft 2017.
Provides omnichannel customer experiences: Chatbots enable seamless transitions between channels. Chatbots detect the issues they cannot resolve and easily escalate that to a live agent while preserving customer information. This enables an agent on live chat to take the issue from where the customer left, thus enabling integrated experiences across channels.
Written by the expert: Knowmax
Communication skills for customer success
Modern customer service skills take some planning and implementation to create the best experience for loyal customers. Owning a business is the very definition of wearing many hats, and taking some time to put on your marketing hat and create a defined customer service plan will be well worth your time in the long run.
Clearly defined approaches to enhance the client experience
- Make a vision for the ideal customer experience – Create a written plan for what you think the ideal customer experience is based on. If your business is tailored toward customers outside of your own personal demographic and buyer persona, it’s important to do this to make sure you’re marketing to your audience in a targeted way.
- Make a personal relationship with your clients – Our traditional view of brands is faceless businesses and corporations, so when a business owner takes the time to interact personally with customers, it goes a long way toward creating a connection that will help to foster long-term customer loyalty.
- Real-time client feedback gathering – With the time, effort, and energy you put into growing your business, it can be difficult not to become defensive when you receive feedback. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ask your customers for real-time feedback. By doing this, you are mentally prepared to receive feedback, and your customers feel valued and heard by being asked for their thoughts and comments.
Improve your communication skills
Your business needs to set up a tone and share it with the team on how they are going to approach their customers. This way, your customers would be happier and feel more understood by how you or your team make them feel welcome and supported.
- Practice active listening – Active listening involves asking questions, making good eye contact, and using verbal and nonverbal cues to let people know that you’re engaged with what they’re saying and absorbing the point that’s being communicated.
- Learn to empathize with your customers –Your first instinct might be to make a frustrated customer understand the issue from your perspective. While this can be helpful, it’s often better to de-escalate a situation by showing that you understand what’s causing the frustration and letting the customer know that you would be frustrated, too if you were in their shoes.
- Use positive language – The words we use greatly impact the overall tone of a conversation. Keeping your language positive and using friendly, solution-oriented words will help your overall customer service experience to feel less like a complaint being handled and more like a solution being found and be solution-focused.
- Know your products and services – Be knowledgeable about your products and services, shipping methods, and any areas where there could potentially be hiccups in the process so that you can directly address any concerns. This helps customers to feel confident in your brand and business.
Implement customer management CRM
Once you gain customers for your business, register their information into a CRM to get to know them better. It is essential to understand your customers, to provide them with what they require, how they need it, and when they require your service or product. Managing your customers may provide you with essential insights to help you expand your business. How you fill out your customer information will also depend on your business model.
As a result of customer management, you will have precious information and could create loyalty programs to satisfy your customers. Some examples include congratulating them on their birthday, providing special discounts, a membership, or Christmas gifts, and, as a result, they may suggest your business.
Synergizing customer service with digital marketing
One of the best ways to work your customer service program into your digital marketing plan is to use digital marketing platforms. This provides useful information for customer service in an easily consumable way that’s integrated with your marketing messaging. There are several ways to create a cohesive and valuable customer service program.
Create helpful content – A blog, social media, website, and newsletter are great ways to provide valuable content to your audience. Ensure your content is helpful and valuable so that it isn’t seen as annoying or spammy. What that looks like depends on your buyer personas and products, so take the time to plan out thoughtful content.
Set proper customer expectations – Whether it’s shipping and delivery times or accuracy in the colors in your product photos, your customers must know what to expect. Good communication about expectations and any changes goes a long way toward preventing concerns or complaints.
Referral marketing strategy – Referral marketing is done by encouraging your existing customers to refer their friends and family to purchase from you by offering your customer (or their referrals, or both) an incentive. This can be as simple as a discount or a gift.
Create a community – The most loved brands create a community around their products and the lifestyle they’re used to. This takes time and effort, but the reward is an engaged and loyal customer base that keeps coming back.
Create a customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs take many forms. Start with something simple and add on as time passes. Giving your customers an incentive to return and purchase from you again – even something relatively small, like points that add up to a discount – makes the difference between returning to your business or going with another option.
For time-savvy customer care when juggling numerous responsibilities, efficient customer service is essential, even when time is limited. You can implement several strategies to ensure effective customer service without compromising your schedule.
- First, prioritize clear communication by setting realistic response time expectations. Let your customers know when they can expect to hear back from you, managing their anticipations.
- Secondly, utilize automation tools such as chatbots and email templates to streamline common inquiries, as mentioned before. Automation can swiftly provide answers, ensuring your clients feel attended to even when you’re occupied. Additionally, consider outsourcing some aspects of customer service to professionals who can handle routine tasks, allowing you to focus on higher-priority responsibilities.
- Lastly, gather feedback to continuously improve your processes, identify pain points, and refine your approach. By adopting these strategies, you can maintain excellent customer service standards while effectively managing your demanding schedule as a home professional.
In conclusion, the implementation of a customer success plan holds immense value for your business. While establishing and sustaining this process requires considerable time, effort, and dedication, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial investment. The customer success plan proves its worth over time by nurturing loyal repeat customers. Moreover, digital customer service offers the advantage of dividing roles and responsibilities among a team, preventing the burden from falling solely on one individual. This approach ensures consistent delivery of exceptional service to your valued customers. Integrating a customer success plan into your business strategy is an indispensable step toward fostering growth and success.