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Guest Blog: Instant Customer Service – Just Add Text Message

This week we feature an article by Ford Blakely about text messaging which can provide that instant, convenient and low-friction customer experience that delivers delight. I like the idea of the convenience of texting but as Ford points out, you must have a strategy in place for your team to answer texts correctly. – Shep Hyken

Let’s face it, customer service is the lifeline of any company. Of course, getting new customers is just as important, but it’s useless if your customer service experience is suboptimal.

According to Forbes, Businesses are losing $62 billion per year through poor customer service.

Bad customer service doesn’t just impact your revenue now, but can dramatically affect it in the future as study shows 86% of consumers said they’ve stopped doing business with a company after a bad customer experience.

This bad experience will also snowball into losing potential new customers due to 60% of consumers say that they will post a negative review online if they experience poor customer service. That’s 3 times more than positive reviews. When customers are angry, they tell the world about it.

Reasons for bad customer service

There are many reasons businesses have poor customer service, and they can vary by industry, but in my opinion, there are four common themes that cause bad customer service.

Not enough training: Good customer service starts with the employees. If your staff is not knowledgeable about the product or are not properly trained on how to speak to it the right way, it creates customer frustration and you lose credibility as a provider of the product. Another aspect of training is understanding human emotions. Customer service agents often have to deal with already angry customers and different types of issues, so having knowledge about how to properly respond to those scenarios is extremely important to customer service and your brand as a whole.

Not knowing your customers: There’s nothing more frustrating than having to repeat the same answer over and over again. Study shows that 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives. Customer service agents need to have customer data available at their fingertips, and this includes support history and other customer preferences you may have in your database. Also, listen to your customers when they tell you their problems instead of going to a templated answer. If you are going to give the same answer to every customer, you might as well replace it with robots. Remember that personal is memorable.

Too slow: There are few things more annoying than having to wait on hold when you need your question answered right away. Whether it’s holding on the phone or waiting to get an email response back, they often take longer than we want. Research from Harris Interactive found that 75% of consumers believe that it takes too long to reach a live customer service agent. This means that there are potential process or technical issues within the customer service department that can’t support customers in a timely manner. No matter what the issue is, it is important to have customer support in as many channels as possible.

No multi-channel support: This goes back to knowing your customers and what they like. Not all customers like to communicate the same way, especially when there are multiple ways to engage. Customer service channels like phone, email, live chat and even social media have been popular ways businesses are multiple channels to support customer needs. There’s one that is missing. Text Messaging.

How text messaging creates instant customer service

Text messaging is starting to become a popular channel for businesses to support customers as texting as consumer trends show that 81% of Americans text regularly and over 6 billion text messages are sent every day.

This trend seems to cross over to consumer-to-business communication as 89% of consumers want to use messaging to communicate with businesses. (Source)

This is not a surprise to me because as a consumer myself, I really don’t like talking on the phone unless it’s absolutely necessary. The speed and convenience of text messaging in our daily lives can and should be translated into a business environment.

Enabling text messaging as a customer communication channel helps solve some of the issues that cause poor customers service.

Texting provides faster service: Texting by nature is fast and convenient. When businesses interact with customers by text message, it reduces calls being on hold as customer service agents can have two-way conversations multiple customers simultaneously in real time, reducing the backup of customers waiting to get a hold of you.

Texting is personal:  Texting provides another level of personalized service that supports the overall customer experience. Businesses that use texting for customer support usually leverages a secure business-level text messaging software that is able to store customer profile information as well as past conversation history. When properly used, customer service agents can quickly pull up customer data and pick up where the conversation left off previously which helps to provide a more personalized and speedier service.

Texting is low friction: If you make it hard for customers to contact you, they will become frustrated and possibly leave you for your competitor. According to Harvard Business Review, the number 1 factor in customer loyalty is reduction of customer effort. The versatility of text messaging allows anyone to send and receive messages practically anywhere, anytime. It removes the need for internet access or email logins. It’s really instant customer service. For businesses, a study from McKinsey customer experience survey showed that when companies provide a low effort experience throughout the entire customer journey saw 10-15% increases in revenue and a 20% in customer satisfaction.

The takeaway

Although the idea of text messaging is great, make sure that you have a strategy in place, so your staff knows how to interact with customers via text messaging.

Also, be sure to set goals and measure performance to create accountability and have knowledge of how it’s doing compared to other customer service channels.

Practically all consumer experiences today are instant or on-demand. Why not customer service? As I outlined in this article, text messaging provides that instant, convenient and low-friction customer experience that delivers delight, which often translates into more revenue, happier customers, and most importantly lifelong loyal customers.

Ford Blakely is the founder and CEO of Zingle. As a frustrated consumer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Ford sought to figure out a quicker way to order his latte in the morning. He did – and in 2009 Zingle was born as the first two-way, business-and-customer communication platform.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Ten Customer Service And CX Predictions For 2018

 

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