Customer experience is becoming the primary differentiator between companies, with over 80 percent of consumers willing to spend more for better customer service. These simple office changes can help keep your business competitive by upping its customer service game.
1. Train for Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal interaction is an important factor in consumer decision-making. In a recent McKinsey study, after a pleasant experience during an important request, over 85 percent of consumers increased commitment through higher spending; unpleasant interactions drove over 70 percent of customers to reduce their commitment or abandon the company entirely.
Experts emphasize the importance of listening to customers, speaking to them genuinely and empathizing with their concerns. Train customer-facing employees on active listening, thoughtful question-forming and appropriate responses to different scenarios. Try using recorded call dialogues or role-playing exercises to help them practice these skills. Additionally, call recording and live call monitoring allow managers to provide employees with relevant feedback to improve their customer service skills.
Don’t let technical training fall by the wayside, however. Knowledge of company information, products and policies help employees develop the best resolutions to customer requests. Representatives that are both skilled and personable can help build a satisfied and loyal customer base.
2. Improve Call Efficiency
Interactive Voice Menus (IVR) help get callers to the correct department quickly. To optimize a caller’s experience, keep these IVR tips in mind:
- The simpler, the better. Aim for a maximum of five main menu items.
- Accuracy is key. Test the menu to make sure each option takes the caller where it should.
- Avoid lengthy introductions. Nearly all Fortune 500 companies keep their introductory message under 8 seconds. Avoid promotional introductions, prompts for customers to “listen carefully because menu options have changed” or directions to address common questions online. Make operating hours and location addresses a menu option rather than listing them up-front. In short, get right to the point. Callers don’t want to have to wait.
- Always give callers the option of reaching a live agent. Not every call will fit within your IVR system, no matter how well designed. Always offer a live representative option to avoid frustrating callers.
Call analytics provide great insights into how quickly employees answer calls, missed call rates and other figures that can drive call improvement. Some systems even alert managers when a caller has been on hold for too long or there are too few agents available. Many VoIP solutions offer detailed analytics and alert capabilities in their standard packages.
Tip: Cut down on missed calls with burstable SIP VoIP trunks, which allow calls to come through even when all purchased lines are in use.
3. Collect and Address Customer Feedback
How do you know if your customers are satisfied? Ask them! Consider using online or email surveys, posting social media polls, including comment boxes on your website or implementing automatic post-call surveys through your VoIP provider (a popular choice for VoIP call centers). Add an incentive to encourage responses, and develop a plan for reviewing patterns in the feedback that could indicate areas that need improvement.
In cases of bad reviews, 11 percent of customer churn can be avoided by directly contacting the customer. Read and address customer reviews on Yelp, Google and industry-specific review sites. An apology and an offer to work with the customer directly could change their negative view of the company and prevent abandonment. Additionally, publicly replying to reviews tells potential customers that your company invests in a quality customer experience.
Tip: Reply to both negative and positive customer reviews. This gives your brand an authentic image and prevents replies to negative comments from appearing formulaic.
4. Implement Multi-Channel Support
While voice is still the preferred customer service medium, other channels like chat, social media and email are becoming increasingly popular. To truly build a customer-centric model, research which channels your customers use and integrate them into your customer service model.
Tip: Omnichannel reach is only effective when well-executed; a neglected website chat box or unanswered social media messages could actually deter customers. Only invest in channels your company is committed to maintaining.
5. Toll-Free and Vanity Numbers
Toll-free and vanity numbers make it easier for customers to remember and use company contact information. 21 in 25 people will remember a vanity number supported by visual aids or letters in an ad, and those ads receive 30% more responses than ads with regular phone numbers. Considering the amount of traction they gain for businesses, VoIP toll-free and vanity numbers are quite affordable. Ask your current or prospective provider about their toll-free and vanity number pricing.
Stay Competitive with the Best Tools
As customer service becomes a key differentiating factor, the right customer service channels, tools and methods can help set businesses apart. VoIP is a popular option for optimizing calling strategies – and since the technology functions over a VoIP PBX, it’s a much cheaper option than landline service, which requires a physical, on-site PBX router.
4Voice’s business VoIP solutions can help efficiently and affordably improve customer experience. Find out more in our infographic!