Dive into Exceptional Customer Service Without Drowning
1. What Is Good Customer Service: The Proof & Why Customers Want 24/7 Services.
2. Why should you care?: How 24/7 Customer Service Can Help Your Business.
3. How you can offer 24/7 Customer Service: Gap Analysis & Boosting Your ROI.
4. Customer Service Options: Outsourcing, Social Media & Live Chat.
1. Outsourced call answering
Full disclosure time – we’re a telephone answering service, so unsurprisingly we’re advocates of outsourcing your out of hours calls. But, we’re not going to pitch ourselves here – all this information applies to our competitors as it does to us.
If you want real people handling your calls, outsourcing your calls is the most cost-effective solution.
By diverting your out of hours calls to an answering service, they’ll be answered in a 24-hour centre. The range of services provided varies across telephone answering providers; from basic telephone answering services to more bespoke customer service solutions.
The reason it’s so cost-effective is that you only pay for the time spent answering calls. If you only get a handful of calls a night, you’ll only spend a few quid to have them answered, as opposed to the full night’s wages you’d have to pay for someone in-house. Even better, the operators will answer the call just as your own staff would, ensuring a seamless communication.
2. Tech and IVR
Another option many businesses turn to is an IVR system: Interactive Voice Response.
Essentially, this refers to those machines that tell you to “press one for customer service” or “say the name of the person you want to speak to after the beep”. The main problem with IVR is that people find them annoying. We’ve all been on enough phone calls to automated systems to know that hundreds of businesses up and down the country use them on a daily basis.
But, if you can’t afford to outsource your calls, an IVR system is still a better option than letting the calls go through to voicemail. Alternatively, if you’re using in-house staff to answer calls, IVR is a great way to qualify and route calls to the right people.
3. On-Call Staff
Using on-call staff can be an alternative way of managing 24/7 customer service enquiries.
It bridges the gap between having staff on shift at all times, and an option like a call answering service, where you only pay for the calls you use.
Having on-call staff is also useful if you’re in a highly technical industry, where callers will always require specific knowledge.
The problem with on-call staff is the difficulty in finding people who are willing to partake. If they do, you’ll most likely have to pay staff to go ‘on call’ even if they don’t end up managing any calls- increasing overheads compared to a call answering service.
Having on-call staff in conjunction with a telephone answering service provides a middle ground, where calls requiring technical knowledge are transferred after having been fully qualified by operators.
When it comes to providing 24/7 customer service, email has the advantage of giving you a bit more wiggle room for answering enquiries. With the phone, if you promise your customers 24/7 cover, you need someone ready at all times to answer the phone. Whereas, you can get away with a couple of hours gap between an email being sent and your company providing a response.
The challenge comes when making sure that the quality of service is maintained when multiple people from your business are managing the same email account. That is where a ticketing system comes in.
5. Ticketing Systems
With a ticketing system, every new customer enquiry will create a unique ticket. From that point on, every contact made between the customer and the business regarding that enquiry will be logged onto that ticket.
The importance of the ticketing system is to ensure a good customer experience. It keeps all the information from the enquiry in the same place so that there’s no need for the customer to repeatedly explain their issue every time they talk to a new agent.
6. Social Media
When it comes to customer service, the most up and coming channel is social media.
If your business appeals to younger people, then social media should definitely be part of your wider customer service strategy and should be considered as part of your 24/7 plan.
Social media customer service effectively works in two ways- people private messaging you directly or posting their query on their feed for everyone to see. This is an interesting development of 24/7 customer service as it makes having your social channels covered 24/7 essential. After all, you wouldn’t want someone posting an angry tweet about a late delivery and having it sit on your feed all night (or worse, all weekend) for your potential customers to see.
Which platforms should you choose?
The channel that best fits your business depends on what you offer
and what your audience uses.
What was once the place to be for the younger people of the internet, is now far more important to people past the age of 30. However, Facebook is as ubiquitous as Google, so regardless of what you’re selling – you should be on Facebook.
Twitter is a place lots of businesses, marketers, and influencers go to promote themselves, especially if you’re a B2B service. Twitter is also renowned for its trolling and negative attitudes, so be extra alert if you’re on Twitter. If someone’s going to completely lose it about your business in a public forum, it’s likely they’ll do it on Twitter.
Until recently, Instagram was the up and coming social network but since being bought by Facebook it has become much more mainstream.The visual nature of Instagram means it’s great for retailers and anyone selling desirable products.
Snapchat is the new kid on the block and has stolen Instagram’s crown as the chosen social media platform of Generation Z. With businesses still finding their feet on Snapchat, it’s yet to be seen how customer service interactions will play out on this platform. There are however some businesses using Snapchat as an effective troubleshooting tool, as customers can easily send pictures of any problems they’re having.
7. Live Chat
Live Chat came on the scene at around the same time as social media customer service, and it is used in much the same way. It is preferred by younger people and often generates enquiries of the quick and easy type rather than the complex questions that you’ll get over the phone.
If 62% of customers are more inclined to purchase products online when customer support is available via live chat, then what are you waiting for?
Well, it’s easier said than done- much like the telephone, you need someone there all the time to handle it, meaning it isn’t very cost effective to do in-house.
Fortunately, a number of organisations offer live chat services. The main benefit that live chat outsourcing has over call answering, is that a skilled live chat operator can manage up to 4 live chats at a time, while of course you can only take one phone call at a time.
Live chat can therefore handle: More enquiries, Faster, For less potentially less money than a call answering service.
Often the best solution is to outsource both live chat and call answering to the same provider. Keeping two of your customer service channels covered at all time.
And that’s it!
- In today’s 24 hr culture, people want their enquiries answered at a time convenient to them.
- There are lots of customer service channels to choose from, but you should opt for the one best suited to your audience.
- When you’re trying to manage 24/7 customer service, costs can quickly spin out of control.
- Outsourcing providers and the right technology can help you make good ROI.
Soon, 24/7 customer service won’t even be a choice for businesses, it will simply be the standard.