Customer service is incredibly important to any business. So important, even, that by 2020, it’s projected that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
So it’s safe to say that customer service is important. But how do you ensure your brand delivers happiness like some of the industry’s leading lights such as Zappo’s and Buffer? Well, behind any shining, successful customer service team is a strong customer service philosophy and customer service strategy.
A strong customer service philosophy is not something you can create overnight or simply add on top of your business, like the icing on a cake. Instead, a customer service philosophy is a mindset that has to come from the core of the company.
By implementing a philosophy that puts the customer first, you’ll empower your team to do their greatest work and keep your customers front of mind at all times.
Here’s how and why it is important to have a customer service philosophy through unified support for your business.
Why unified customer service as a philosophy is essential
Customer service no longer exists on any single channel. The days of only offering phone or email support are long gone. Now, support must take place in a unified way.
Over 90 percent of customers expect access to self-service channels. But they also expect personalized attention when they need it. This means you need a customer service philosophy that encompasses seamless self-service support and amazing, personalized two-way support when your customers require it.
The importance of self-service support
In the age of social media, the majority of people online have experienced outstanding customer service in one form or another – or have at least enjoyed the story of another close friend or social media acquaintance receiving great support. It seems almost every day there’s a new viral customer support story going around online.
This may make it seem like the best way to keep your customers happy is to ensure there’s always someone on-hand ready to deliver happiness when needed by your customers. However, this isn’t necessarily the number one way to keep your customers delighted as 67% of customers today prefer, and expect, self-service tools over talking to your team.
Alongside traditional support channel such as email and social media, customers crave self-help content and it feels like the ideal scenario is for a brand to be able to solve any customer service issues without the customer needing to reach out. Jamie Edwards explains more in a recent post on brand loyalty:
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that customers value brief moments of extraordinary delight over quick and easy help. But there is a harsh reality facing customer-centric businesses: any interaction with your support team is 4x more likely to drive customer disloyalty versus actually improving their experience. They [customers] expect quick answers and zero obligation to talk with a human unless absolutely necessary. Case in point, customer service tools must support this growing trend; there’s no longer an alternative.”
When a customer seeks additional support beyond your self-service content, they’re often seeking a personalized experience to help them solve their specific issue. Therefore, personalized, two-way support (such as email or social media) needs to be a key aspect of a good customer service philosophy.
When it comes to personalized support, you should think carefully about:
- The tone in which you address customers. This includes everything from the salutations you open up with, to the detail you go into with your answers (do you over-communicate or keep it short?)
- The response times you want to aim for. Customers expect lightning fast responses across all channels nowadays, and though sub-60-minute responses aren’t always possible, think about how you can ensure a great experience for customers.
3 ways to create a customer service philosophy
1. Put your customer first
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business and providing great omni-channel support can be key to customer retention, happiness and advocacy. When it comes to your customer service philosophy, it needs to put customer experience first.
For example, when you’re thinking about developing a customer service philosophy, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about how you’d like to experience support:
- Do you want to compose an email and explain your issue? Not always, so offer the chance for users to live chat or easily share a screenshot of their issue.
- Do you like to feel ignored and wonder whether the company is listening? Probably not. Not all issues can be solved instantly, but in most cases a quick message to let the customer know you’re looking into it can help.
2. Focus on consistent experience
Every interaction with your brand should feel consistent. Especially when it comes to customer service. Whether a customer is using self-service channel, such as an FAQ or Help page, or speaking with a customer service rep, it’s important to ensure the brand interaction feels familiar.
The voice and tone you use across all forms of support is one way to enhance support and craft a consistent experience for customers.
The products you use for support can also play a key part in creating a consistent customer service experience, as Jes Kirkwood explains in a recent post on customer service strategy:
“Choosing a vendor that unifies your support channels will immediately boost your customer retention and prevent future churn. Plus, your customers will thank you for providing a consistent support experience. And your support staff will thank you for centralizing your customers’ account information. Now that’s a win-win-win!
You can also save a lot of operating costs when you design your customer service philosophy increasing around customer loyalty and reducing churn, because a mere 2% increase in customer retention is equal to a 10% decrease in the cost of customer acquisition.”
A few ways you can look to deliver consistency:
- Ensure the tone of your communication is aligned across channels
- Keep your branding and design feel consistent, Visiting an FAQ page or self-service support page shouldn’t feel like a completely new site and experience.
3. Implement from the top down
As we mentioned earlier, a philosophy for customer service is a mindset that must be at the core of the company, and customer service as a philosophy should also live throughout every department:
- Design and engineering: How can we make the UX and UI as user friendly as possible and answer common questions throughout the product
- Marketing: How can we answer key support questions in the copy across our website and in any additional communications such as blogs and social media posts
- Leadership: How is our support philosophy reflected in the company mission and values
When the whole company is onboard and aligned with a vision it’s easier to keep everyone working towards a common goal and performing to the best of their abilities. Think about how every team can ensure your philosophy is implemented and the responsibilities that fall on each area of your business to ensure the philosophy is lived up to. Derek Sivers explains:
“You can’t micro-manage the details of every possible scenario, so make sure everyone in the company knows that whenever they have to make decision about what is the right thing to do, always do what’s best for the customer, what would make them the happiest, and don’t worry about the company. The customer is more important than the company.”