The business world is known for being complex, draining and difficult to navigate, but thought leaders agree that when it comes to building lasting success, it’s the basics that really matter, and companies across industries are elevating their brands by investing more time and energy in their customers.
From understanding how their consumers prefer to shop and communicate to rethinking how employees are trained, here are some of the ways the most successful entrepreneurs are increasing both their profits and customer satisfaction ratings – without spending a truckload of money…
Plan Your Interactions to Understand Customers Better
With so many communication avenues to cover, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and overextend a company’s resources. One of the first steps every business owner should take is creating a customer experience plan based on the service experience they want to create and the feedback they receive from existing customers. Online, this translates to delivering a sound digital customer experience, which in turn is dependent on the capabilities of the company from six key customer viewpoints:
- Service convenience
- Purchase convenience
- Simplicity & ease of use
- Channel flexibility
You can move up levels of the digital experience maturity spectrum by enhancing each of these capabilities:
Your CX plan should take into account market research, competitive intelligence, and customer feedback. All this data can be collected in a number of ways including in-store or online surveys, social media promotions and telemarketing. By providing multiple points of contact, business owners can keep track of where their customers are the most active, also known as their customer touchpoints.
Customer touchpoints vary from company to company based on their target audience. Tech companies tend to focus their energies on virtual communications such as having larger teams dedicated to responding to customer’s social media and other digital interactions. Businesses where customers prefer to go to a location or talk to a live representative focus on strengthening their in-store customer service and customer helpline teams so that visits and calls are handled efficiently and exceed expectations.
Having a better understanding of customers is beneficial beyond just knowing how to disperse a company’s workforce to provide the best customer service where it counts. The data collected can also be used to improve marketing plans and even product design concepts. Once the customer touchpoints are identified, they make up the building blocks for entrepreneurs wanting to improve the overall experience for each customer that contacts their company through advanced virtual service tools and enhanced employee training.
Build Strong Fundamentals for Your Customer Service Team
Most lean startups and companies today are taking a closer look at the service techniques they provide and striving to make their teams better by making them understand the importance and the basics of customer interaction.
Using their main customer touchpoints, entrepreneurs can look at where their effort needs to be distributed and reorganize their training programs. This way new employees are being trained where it makes the most impact, existing employees can have more in-depth training into their positions, and entrepreneurs will see a boost in customer satisfaction rates without having to invest a ton of extra money in marketing or technology.
Training and retraining existing employees also takes pressure off the company – the Customer Service team isn’t struggling with their workload, Human Resources isn’t constantly hiring new employees on a mad dash to beat the turnover rate, and new hires have a better sense of company loyalty when they are properly prepared for their job. There are a few critical skills to focus on when you’re hiring and training employees for customer service:
One step entrepreneurs are taking to inculcate these skills and abilities in their staff is to is to take advantage of e-learning platforms and online self-learning methods (comprising of ebooks, slide decks, webinars, and other resources) by creating an ongoing virtual training program for their employees to supplement their initial training. This way when they need a refresher course or cross-training for a new department, they can log in to the company’s e-learning platform (usually from work or home) without any scrambling to get something scheduled or having to wait for enough employees to sign up.
There are many different e-learning platforms available, so it is important for entrepreneurs to do plenty of research to ensure that the platform they choose meets all of their training needs at a competitive price.
Embrace Virtual Assistance in the Real World
For those who are looking to virtualize their customer service departments, chatbots can be an inexpensive and easy-to-use option. Chatbots are AI-based programs that communicate with companies and customers through interactive IM-like boxes. They have been gaining in popularity as start-up companies look for ways to save money on customer support teams without sacrificing customer service. Chatbots are designed to be available 24/7 for customers that may need assistance after regular business hours. This means that customers can always receive help, regardless of holiday or weekend emergencies.
Chatbot technology seems to be moving at light speed. In the past few years alone, there have been crazy amounts of progress. Here’s a graphic showing the evolution of chatbots and their maturity levels in providing a seamless and friction-less customer experience:
The customer-focused benefits of chatbots include:
- Ability to handle hundreds of customer inquiries simultaneously, including answering FAQs and collecting feedback.
- Specialization – some companies may only need a bot that identifies and reports system errors while others might need one to interact with website visitors after working hours.
- Saving money on expanding customer service teams – chatbots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to learn from communication patterns and operator requests, even increasing their own productivity in the process.
Over to You
When it comes to formulating a consistent strategy to enhance customer experience, the options can seem endless and it’s easy to get discouraged. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online for startups, small businesses, and even solo entrepreneurs to take their company to the next level and take on big brand competitors. The unswerving core of your strategy should be to focus on your customer at all times, and deliver better service, come what may. This will keep your business on the path of steady growth. Good luck!