As your business adjusts, don’t forget about customer service

As your business adjusts, don’t forget about customer service
July 25, 2023  |  BY

Business leaders can’t sit still for long these days. They have to constantly assess the potential benefits of new technologies, sales strategies, marketing tactics, and brand awareness campaigns. Getting comfortable can mean falling behind.

That same mindset should also apply to customer service and support. The problem, however, is that executives often look at customer care as their last priority; to many it’s a nice-to-do rather than a must-do.

But that can be a costly mistake: When customers don’t get the service they expect, you’re bound to lose them – probably forever. And their negative online reviews can persuade potential customers to never even give you a chance.

We urge all of our retail clients to make customers one of their top priorities. Because as much as you implement leading technology, it won’t mean a thing if you can’t get a substantial return on investment.

Which is all to say, it’s critical that you pay attention to the factors that can affect customer service.

Begin by understanding the current state of supply chains. The pandemic undoubtedly affected the flow of parts and materials, and kept many enterprises in a state of uncertainty. In turn, we saw a vast increase in frustrated customers. But it looks as if the supply chain has recovered, which will reignite the ability to manufacture as needed. There will be less mystery and more predictability.

The trickle down effect here is that customer service personnel will get a handle once again on their jobs. In turn, analysts predict an increase in sales. To get ready for the coming rise in online orders and physical store shopping, get your customer service people reacquainted with customer FAQs and policies.

The gears of the supply chain may be running smooth again, yet retail (and other industries) is still faced with a lack of workers. Fewer employees can hinder the quality of the customer experience.

As the dominoes tumble, companies may end up requiring non-customer service personnel to handle customer issues. As such, they’ll need to use software that’s entirely new to them – software that takes extensive time and training to learn and master.

Get ahead of the curve so these workers can provide the best customer experience possible. To do so, assess how you can provide sufficient training in a reduced amount of time. How can you make training quicker, less cumbersome, and more practical right out of the gate?

At the same time, consider how you can implement self-service mechanisms for your customers. Just as consumers are becoming comfortable with self-checkout at grocery and other stores, they’re expecting the same do-it-yourself options for service and support.

Work with customer service leaders and managers to plan, build, and rollout self-service channels. Doing so can lessen the burden on a limited workforce while improving the overall customer experience.

That said, organizations must now cover all of their bases and anticipate customer service needs. They must be more proactive instead of being entirely reactive. To this end, we’re seeing a surge in the use of technology and customer data that identifies exactly when a customer might need extra assistance or guidance. In what’s essentially customer mind reading, in-app messaging allows you to advise customers even before they ask for help.

To accurately anticipate customer needs, evaluate each position on their shopping journey, and identify where they typically get confused or abandon their carts. Then implement a proactive customer service policy that can meet customers where they are in the shopping process.

No discussion of customer service is complete without delving into Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is changing every facet of the business landscape, including how organizations deliver better customer experiences.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that AI in this context is not meant to be a wholesale replacement of customer service workers and/or processes. Rather, AI is simply a tool that can foster greater effectiveness.

For example, AI can help customer service teams by automating the tagging and routing of support interactions; assessing which best practices should take priority; increasing automation; and simplifying complex customer data, turning an endless amount of numbers into practical and actionable information.

We all know that people are a company’s most valuable asset. Yet this sentiment traditionally applies only to employees. Leaders need to add customers to that concept, which means giving them the tools required to create memorable experiences. So give customers reasons to be loyal. Because if you don’t, they’ll go elsewhere in a click.