The internet has created an "instant gratification" mindset in our society, particularly when it comes to obtaining information. But, while general facts and figures are often available through basic Google searches, company-specific information isn't so easy to come by.
Customers want to make an informed decision before they do business with you. Quite often, this means they'll come directly to your team to obtain information.
Is your team prepared when customers come to them with questions?
The longer they wait for answers, the more likely they are to go to one of your competitors. In fact,90% of customers say they want an immediate response — as in, faster than 10 minutes — when they have a customer service question.
Even more problematic is when someone from your team provides inaccurate information. That customer could be in for a nasty surprise later which is sure to lead to negative reviews and lost revenue.
The good news is today's tech makes it easier than ever to counteract both of these problems. With instant and accurate information, you can improve customer acquisition and retention, and create a delightful service experience.
In this post, we'll review four handy tips you can use to provide immediate and effective solutions to customers seeking help from your business.
4 Tips for Providing Instant and Accurate Customer Support
1. Support your staff with a knowledge management platform.
As important as it is to receive information quickly, that information won't do your customers much good if it's inaccurate.
Unfortunately, customer support reps all too often provide inaccurate information or ineffective solutions. In fact, thinkJar reports that 44% of customers have received wrong answers from company representatives. This is probably why 64% of consumers don't fully trust information that they receive from businesses, even when it's coming directly from someone who's working for the company.
Giving out bad information is a recipe for disaster as it can undermine trust and lose sales opportunities for your business. Brands can counteract this by ensuring customer-facing representatives always have access to accurate information — and the easiest way to achieve that is through a fully integrated knowledge management software like the one shown below.
Knowledge management portals create a central hub, accessible to employees across departments, where pertinent and timely information is made available. Users can look up information by topic, service action, or other parameters to quickly find what they need. This gives both your service reps and your customers confidence in the quality of the information they're reading because it's coming from a credible source.
In acase study from KMS Lighthouse, global logistics brand DHL increased its customer satisfaction scores by 15% after adopting a knowledge management system for its team. The company reduced training time for new agents by 50% which greatly enhanced the onboarding process. The use of this integrated system further helped reduce call duration and hold times, while also improving the rate at which inquiries were resolved during the first call.
Having a knowledge base is like having a cheat sheet for your support team. Even if they're confident in a solution, this platform allows reps to confirm their troubleshooting steps so they can always provide accurate information to your customers.
2. Program chatbots to handle basic inquiries.
For basic or routine questions, your easiest option is to turn the work over to a chatbot. AI chatbots can be programmed to respond to a variety of inquiries — and the use of this tech is becoming fairly common and widely accepted. After all, "smart speakers" like the Amazon Echo Dot are really little more than a fancy type of chatbot.
A report from Chatbots Magazine reveals 27% of Americans have used chatbots to complete a purchase. The article also notes that banks and other businesses have the potential to automate as much as 90% of customer interactions by the year 2022.
Unlike human support staff, a chatbot is readily available anytime someone visits your website. Because company information is programmed into the AI, it will consistently provide accurate information to your customers.
Additionally, by taking on more mundane inquiries, chatbots reduce strain on your service team. This allows sales reps, customer support staff, and others to focus more on complex inquiries that require a more personalized approach.
For best results, a chatbot should transition seamlessly to a human rep when needed. This helps customers resolve problems in a single interaction, and gives them confidence that their inquiry is being taken seriously. If you only provide a chatbot, customers will eventually crave human-to-human interaction and will seek out another business that provides a more hybrid experience.
3. Track interactions with customer service software.
While resolving every customer inquiry during the first interaction is an admirable goal, it isn't always possible — particularly when it comes to sales and marketing calls. Research from Marketing Donut reveals that 80% of "non-routine" sales require five follow-up calls before a sale is finalized.
Despite this, many sales and support reps are reluctant to follow up more than once, even if they have important information that could help influence a buying decision.
For many businesses, making additional sales calls after a purchase can also play a big role in securing a recurring source of revenue. Of course, such calls run the risk of getting annoying and alienating a customer — particularly if you're calling to provide information they already know.
This is where customer service software comes into play. Customer relationship management (CRMs) programs create a tracking system that allows your team to log each interaction with individual customers. This includes information such as who spoke to the customer, when the conversation took place, what information was shared, and if any follow-up actions were deemed necessary.
After a customer is onboarded, these tools can also identify which products they're using so your team can fully understand their needs. This allows your service team to proactively reach out to provide valuable information — like when you're rolling out a new software update.
Tracking these interactions can also make it easier to identify patterns or issues with your customer service program. For example, if you see that interactions with a particular customer often require additional follow-up, this could mean that they aren't using your knowledge base properly. You can then ping your customer success team to reach out to the customer and help them understand how to use these self-service resources.
4. Create time-based email alerts.
When you're looking up information for a customer's question, you're on a strict time limit — even if you don't realize it. In fact, 50% of buyers choose the vendor that's first to respond.
Customers who haven't done business with you are likely undergoing a similar process with your competitors. A timely response does more than just help them make an informed decision. It shows your team's commitment to high-quality service.
Unfortunately, an influx of service requests can overwhelm even the most dedicated support professionals, causing certain messages to slip through the cracks. This is bad enough when dealing with a potential sale, but it can be even more devastating when a customer is seeking a solution for a problem.
In fact, Dimensional Research found that 39% of customers will actively avoid a company for two years after a bad service experience. A similar proportion of customers will also tell others to avoid your business, meaning a slow or inaccurate response could lose you several customers and not just the one you were working with.
One simple way to avoid this is by using your CRM to create automated time-based email alerts. This sends an alert that a significant amount of time has passed since you've received the customer's inquiry, and you have limited time left to send a response.
This setup is often used in conjunction with auto-reply features. When customers send an email, an automated response lets them know that their message will be looked at, while also providing an expected timeframe for a solution (typically "within the next business day"). Needless to say, fulfilling this promise of sending a timely response is vital for maintaining consumer trust.
Providing a Fast and Accurate Response
When you can provide customers with accurate information in a timely manner, you demonstrate your commitment to their experience. You show them that you value their time and you want to help them make an informed decision. This sets a positive tone for your entire interaction — and could be the catalyst that helps you earn their business.
By using today's tech to streamline customer service, your team will operate in a more efficient manner and help more people understand what you have to offer. In the long run, this is one of the most important ways to grow your brand.