Customer service needs to be a huge part in your overall reputation management plan. After all, findings from Microsoft’s 2019 report on the state of customer service showed 58 percent of consumers believed customer service to be “very important” in their choice of, or loyalty to, a brand.
With the three starting points below, you provide better service to customers and use the same experience as a selling point for the brand.
- A Multi-Channel Presence
- Be Knowledgeable about Your Customers
- Listen and Act on Feedback
Customer Service Reputation Management Starting Point 1: a Multi-Channel Presence
For their customer service needs, consumers used three or more different channels in 2018. This means that people aren’t just sticking to one form of communication when it comes to solving their issues or getting answers, and you need to meet their needs across multiple platforms.
A popular customer service option is self-service. The report showed 66 percent of consumers start their customer service experience with self-service methods before they pick up the phone or type out a message and 88 percent expect a brand to have some sort of self-service portal readily available. Unfortunately, 43 percent don’t get adequate help through the portal due to the lack of information available.
The Microsoft report also revealed other popular forms of customer support channels, which include:
- Phone or other voice channels (39 percent)
- Email (20 percent)
- Live chat (16 percent)
Creating these customer service channels ensures that you make your brand accessible to all, which makes it easier (and more likely) for any consumer to reach out for any questions or issues.
The Growing Popularity of Social Media for Customer Service
Your personal Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feed might be full of family photos, funny memes, or the latest update from your favorite celebrity. However, for a brand, these platforms are being used as yet another customer service portal.
Research from Sprout Social showed 88 percent of social marketers are aware of the customer service presence on social media, but the idea of “supporting customers” is ranked seventh out of the top eight goals for social marketers.
The same research showed 45 percent of consumers reached out to a company via social media for support. This puts the onus on marketers to wear multiple hats for the job. While they have to market the brand to new customers effectively, they also need to be ready to field questions and complaints from current customers.
Part of a strong customer support strategy on social media is the response. Microsoft’s research showed that 37 percent of those who reach out to businesses on social media expect a response sometime that day, and there’s a benefit to doing it. Statista revealed that responding to issues or questions on social media made brands more favorable to an average of 59 percent of global consumers.
Keeping a close eye on your various social media feeds at the same time can be difficult, but you can thankfully use online solutions like Hootsuite to ensure that all of your social media channels are easily monitored on one dashboard.
Customer Service Reputation Management Starting Point 2: Be Knowledgeable about Your Customers
The Microsoft report revealed that while 39 percent believe the process of engaging with customer service and getting answers to their questions is getting easier, another 35 percent feel that the experience is still the same.
The takeaway from this: there’s plenty of room to improve, and that starts with those directly involved with customer support. More training can help your social media team to be more knowledgeable of customer issues.
Knowing the full scope of the customer issue and, more importantly, having an idea of how to solve the problem makes the overall experience easier for both sides.
On the customer end, it easily removes the top point of frustration among consumers, which is the agent or representative’s lack of knowledge or inability to solve the issue at hand. Strangely enough, the idea of a lengthy call doesn’t seem to bother consumers. In fact, the report showed that the deciding factor in a great customer experience according to consumers is “getting my issue resolved in a single interaction (no matter the length of time).”
However, that doesn’t mean each call should take a few hours. By providing a definitive solution to each customer problem, you create happier and loyal customers that will praise your customer service efforts.
After helping a customer, make sure that they return the favor to you as well, specifically in the form of valuable feedback.
Customer Service Reputation Management Starting Point 3: Act on Customer Feedback
The way that people perceive the customer support side of your brand can define your reputation.
The Microsoft report showed 61 percent of consumers stopped using a business because of a poor experience with customer service.
That bad experience is something people won’t forget, and they will tell others about through online reviews. Those reviews are so powerful that they convinced 94 percent of consumers to avoid a business.
However, you can use customer service feedback (whether it’s positive or negative) to gain actionable insights, and the Microsoft report showed 90 percent of consumers want organizations to offer a chance to provide feedback. Sadly, only 39 percent of consumers say that they are “occasionally” asked to give feedback. Simply asking customers to tell you about their experience goes a long way, and it can lead to valuable feedback that you can use to continually improve the service you provide.
Depending on the channel used for customer service there are multiple ways to get reviews from your customers. Just make the process easy and hassle-free, and people will be more than happy to tell you about their customer service experience.
When you do get feedback, make sure that you take time to respond as well. If customers are willing to take time out of their day to share their thoughts, make sure that you reciprocate with a response. People want to know that they’re not just shouting into the void, so to speak. They want to be heard by you, and learning how to respond to their feedback shows that you value their feedback and investment as a customer.
Responding also helps you attract even more customers. Even if you have negative reviews, responding to them makes it more likely that 45 percent of consumers will visit your business.
A major factor in reputation management for any brand is engagement, and constantly responding reviews is a great way to show your eagerness to engage with any and all customers.
A Customer Service Reputation Management Plan for the Long Run
The need for customer support or service is yet another signal that the relationship between a brand and customer isn’t over after the initial purchase. People want to know that their purchases were a worthwhile investment, which means that if something goes wrong they want to talk to you about it.
The way you respond, whether it’s via phone, email, or in-person can forge your reputation and be a deciding factor in whether that customer is just a one-time visitor or a loyal promoter of the brand.