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How to Provide Excellent Customer Service in 2023

How to Provide Excellent Customer Service in 2023

Even though there is an increasing demand for excellent customer service among today’s consumers – who have come to expect quick and painless experiences – companies that provide speedy assistance and attentive care are in short supply. Customer rage has been on the rise for a while now, and recently, Forbes highlighted a customer experience survey which indicated that 2022 was even worse for customer service than 2021. This raises two questions: what is causing this frustrating decline in service quality and how can companies do better in 2023? 

One possible cause of the decline that is often debated is our reliance on technology. Adding new tech to your customer service process can certainly present challenges. The main issue arises when you try to replace humans with tech instead of incorporating it as a tool that will help your existing customer service employees do their job more efficiently. 

When used properly, customer service technology is a real asset. Currently, service representatives spend almost 90% of their time on the job repeating the answers to the same questions and helping customers with the same issues, according to HubSpot. This is partially because modern consumers use a wide variety of channels to communicate with companies, and they expect you to be present and able to offer support across all of them. Whether someone asks you a question in person, on the phone, via email, on your website, or on social media, you need to meet them wherever they are with consistent courtesy and knowledge.

Today, one bad experience with your company can lead to the customer leaving a negative review online that has the potential to be seen by millions of people. HubSpot also reports that 83% of consumers are likely to trust their peers' opinions, so every piece of feedback must be acknowledged and addressed if you want to remain in good public standing. That is why creating a game plan for responding is crucial. 

Providing customers with options like being able to chat with representatives on your website and Facebook goes a long way. This is where technology like chatbots can come in handy. Setting automatic responses to let customers know their message has been received, or even to provide them with some helpful resources that answer frequently asked questions, benefits everyone. Your service representatives save some time and customers hear from your company immediately. This is particularly useful during off hours. As you’re likely aware, questions tend to keep rolling in even after service representatives have clocked out.

In fact, some customers prefer self-service options, like being able to look through helpful documents sent by a bot so that they can answer their own questions. Think about it – the simple act of referring to a printed user manual is a form of self-service, which shows how common it is. These days, you likely frequent the ATM, and maybe even use an app, for some of your banking. Plus, we’re willing to bet you’ve gone through the self-checkout at a grocery store. 

However, this brings us back to the issue. If it weren’t for the human bankers and clerks standing by to help when the tech fails or can’t address a specific issue sufficiently, society would be in a heap of trouble. Questions often reach a level of complexity that the average bot is not cut out for. In those situations, messaging with a real person via a chat or email thread can be just as frustrating as trying to reason with automation. Even in our modern world with all its bells and whistles, sometimes you simply must pick up the phone. You should also consider your demographic. Can you effectively serve older generations with new tech alone?

Realistically, there is no gadget or software that can fully replace your team of employees. Because of that, it’s extra important to train every individual on how to provide the excellent customer service that only they can deliver. Have your team implement the following tips to ensure you are offering your customers the best service possible this year and beyond. 

Respond Quickly

As we already mentioned, consumers now expect you to be “on” all the time, and chat features can assist you in accomplishing this. Direct mail and email have their place, but they aren’t going to cut it when it comes to providing immediate assistance to a customer with a problem, especially if their request is time sensitive. Regardless of the channel, get back to people a.s.a.p.; certainly within 24 hours. If you can’t offer them a solution right away, just respond to let your customer know you hear them and to give them an estimate of how long it will be before you address their issue.

Reduce Their Pain

Going to your company for assistance shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. Remove as much friction from your processes as possible. A great place to start is by simplifying your chain of communication. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” is a cliché for a reason. The more people a customer must go through to get solutions, the more complicated, painful, and extremely time consuming the process will be for everyone. 

Be Proactive

It should always be your goal to keep promises and meet deadlines. However, if a problem should arise (as they do), reach out to your customers to let them know and reassure them that you are working to solve the problem. Think about how nice it is to hear from your cable or internet provider about an upcoming outage in advance, versus going dark unexpectedly with no explanation. Another good example of a company being proactive is when you receive notice that shipping has been delayed on something you’ve ordered. We can likely all agree that it feels good to be in the know, even when it comes to bad news.

Thank Them

Your customers don’t have to give your company their business. They likely considered other options before settling on you. Therefore, it’s crucial to acknowledge that and show your appreciation. It seems straightforward, but sincere gratitude can really set you apart from the crowd. Every interaction with every customer should include a “thank you,” whether it’s in person, over the phone, or within a digital message. Send a good, old-fashioned, paper card and you’ll really knock their socks off! 

In the end, building person-to-person relationships is more gratifying for all involved parties than just going through the motions to get through the business day. Really listen to your customers’ needs and requests. As always, do your best to stay respectful and emphatic, even in emotion-fueled situations. Finally, don’t forget to follow up with customers to ensure you’ve done all you can for them. The world’s a better place when people come together to solve problems in an understanding manner, and that remains true inside every workplace.

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