How can we improve customer service? Have you found yourself asking this question? Is improving customer service one of your goals for 2019?
With the start of a New Year, you’re no doubt quite busy setting organizational goals for 2019, and more than likely, one of those goals will be focused on increasing revenue. Revenue is often tied to customer service, so there’s no time like the present to understand how you can improve customer service in your organization.
One of the best ways to improve your customer service is to take the time and improve your internal communications, and in this blog, we’ll show you seven great tips on how you can improve customer service through better internal communication.
Tip 1. Prepare Your Staff on How to Respond to Difficult Situations
Ask any frontline staff member and they will tell you that the most stressful part of their day is when a customer’s concern is escalated into a stressful or potentially explosive situation. It’s imperative to prepare your staff on how to be able to respond to difficult situations and train them on:
- How to better recognize hostile situation and customer issues,
- How to utilize verbal, vocal, and non-verbal communication techniques,
- How to understand the role the rep plays in this situation and build rapport for positive communication.
By implementing a better internal communication tool, like Microsoft Teams, you can have the ability to document what employees should do in specific situations, and, more importantly, each scenario that your employees are likely to come across can have its own tab or place where they can go to get instant information on how to handle that situation. An internal communication tool also provides a space where employees can document their own experiences and what worked for them when handling a potentially tricky situation, thus adding to the collaborative workspace you’re looking for, and making it easier to train new employees.
Tip 2. Make it Simple for Your Staff to Stay In Touch!
Twenty years ago, the technology simply wasn’t in place to enable work from home or remote working capabilities. So, the majority of your employees worked from your physical office, with your sales team often on the road. But, as we advanced in our technological capabilities, we also advanced the ability to let our employees work from wherever it was comfortable for them – home offices and satellite offices gave way to working from a local coffee shop or library using your laptop, or even just your smartphone.
This shift to a more geographically-diverse team also led to a shift in how customer service was handled and placed a major emphasis on ensuring proper and effective communication and collaboration between team members. If you want to improve customer service in your organization, regardless of where your team members are located, you need to make it simple for them to stay in touch with each other, collaborate with each other on important documents, and stay up-to-date on the latest customer updates and interactions, no matter what device you’re using.
A collaboration tool, like Microsoft Teams, has the capability of keeping everyone on the same page. Microsoft Teams is being heralded as the ultimate hub for teamwork in Office 365, enabling staff and consultants to communicate with team members through voice and chat capabilities, and seamlessly manage document collaboration in real time without having to leave the platform.
Tip 3. Make Sure Your Staff is Engaged
A recent HR survey done by Morneau Shepell says that improving employee engagement is considered to be one of the paramount priorities for 2019, with 67% of the respondents putting it as the highest priority of the top HR trends. And with a recent Gallup poll showing 85% of employees classifying themselves as either “not engaged”, or “actively disengaged”, it’s no wonder why employee engagement is such a major buzz-word these days.
But actively disengaged employees have more impact on a company than just their financial drain (which, at $3,400 for every $10,000 of their salary, is quite significant). Disengaged employees can also negatively impact the overall customer experience. So, in order to improve customer service, you need to make sure that your staff is engaged!
Googling “how to engage your employees” reveals suggestions like providing feedback on performance, thanking employees for a job well done, creating a productive work environment, and operating an open and transparent organization. A collaboration tool, like Microsoft Teams, can offer a platform that can do all these things, and can be one way to re-engage with those disenchanted employees.
Tip 4. Train Your Staff on How to Make a Good First Impression
You don't get a second chance to make a first impression – in fact, studies show that you have about eight seconds to make that positive first impression. So, whether it's for an event, a business development meeting, you need to make those eight seconds count! A good smile, handshake, eye contact and body language can help when meeting someone face-to-face, but what if your first impression is online? What can you do to leave a lasting impression with those who are following you on social media, or reaching out to you for the first time via email? Here are a few things worth considering:
- Your prospects are on social media. So, having a social media strategy is essential for driving B2B sales.
- Have a seamless and professional appointment scheduling mechanism.
- Share success stories amongst team members. Success breed success like no other.
Tip 5. Strengthen Your Staff’s Customer Service Skills
Employees in a customer service role must be well-trained in several key areas. The most successful employees in customer service share some specific personality traits, like empathy, patience, adaptability, and (let’s be honest) thick skin! In addition, they need to have finely-honed skills, like crystal-clear communication capabilities, a solid work ethic, and extensive knowledge of the product or service offering of the organization they’re working for.
If customer service seems to be lagging in your organization, a good way to improve it is to look at your staff’s customer service skills. Are they up to snuff? Do you have employees that have the right combination of skills and traits? Even the best customer service agents can do with a little pep-talk.
It may seem odd to consider a collaboration tool, like Microsoft Teams, for training purposes, but it is a great way to share content with team members. In this particular situation, you could create a “Customer Service Skills” group in Microsoft Teams, which could serve as a base of operation to share best practices, tips & tricks, and important training documents with your team members who are front and centre with your customers.
Tip 6. Improve Your Customer Interactions
Gaining new customers is key to a company’s initial success, but keeping those customers is equally important. A bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship. It all comes down to improving your customer’s interactions and customer experiences. Do you know what the number one customer complaint is? It might not surprise you, in this world of instant gratification, that the number one customer complaint is a lengthy wait.
A survey in 2016 found that 60% of customers feel that waiting on hold for just one minute is too long – any longer than that, and 6 out of 10 people will hang up. Having real-time communication channels via social media, or a customer service management solution that can help to reduce the time your customers spend on hold can have a huge positive impact for your business. Or, why not ask bots for some help?
There are a number of bots available that are easy to configure and ready to implement right away. One unique feature of Microsoft Teams is the full support for Microsoft Bot Framework. The use of AI bots is trending and Microsoft Bot Framework is a good way to get started. This could be a simple, cost effective way for you to improve your customer experience immediately.
Tip 7. Ensure Clear Communication At All Times with Self-Service Portals
Spelling out payment terms, cancellation policies, and other customer service details can help ward off customer service issues. Consider, we are in the world of instant gratification. People don’t want to wait on the phone to talk to someone about their latest bill, or the warranty information on the product they’ve just purchased. They want answers, and they want answers now. And self-service portals are a way to provide those answers.
According to Forrester Research, self-direct portals are on the rise. Their research claims self-serve usage is at 80% of customers across all industries and forum usage is at 60% of customers and increasing. This tells us that customers are looking for an omni channel approach to gathering data and being serviced. A dedicated self-serve model comes with some benefits. You can:
- Decrease the number of escalated issues that your team has to deal with.
- Help your customers no matter their time requirements: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Increase transparency between transaction and better communication between parties.
By implementing a self-service portal, this can lead to happier, more loyal customers.
This blog post is co-authored by ProServeIT and Change Connect. We publish a monthly blog specifically written for small businesses. Some of the topics we have discussed include security, CRM, Cloud computing, Business Intelligence (BI), Data Security, Training, Artificial Intelligence, and Internet of Things Technology. Click here to view our other co-authored blogs for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses.
As a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner, ProServeIT has been helping SMBs increase efficiency for over fifteen years. We’re constantly looking for ways to help our customers get the most out of their technology investments, and we love to introduce our small business clients to new tools that can help them be more productive. Interested in implementing Microsoft Teams or Office 365 for your SMB? Talk to us to arrange a complementary demonstration of these, or other tools, that might be right for you!
About Change Connect
Change Connect specializes in helping clients to work more efficiently and effectively in pursuit of their revenue goals. We offer customized solutions for small to midsized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation, which includes implementing strategic Sales and Marketing plans. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re a start-up looking to expand or an established company looking to move from a plateau to record growth, Change Connect is your partner in transformation. Change Connect – Making Sales Scalable.