This sponsored post is produced in association with Desk.com.
Promoting your product without investing in customer service is as good as volunteering to handicap the growth of your business. Today, a customer can crack his whip of expectations any moment, and businesses that respond the fastest and most efficiently are the ones that will succeed.
The history of the help desk has evolved significantly over time as more people realized investing in customer service is as crucial as product design itself. According to the recent Customers 2020 report, experts predict the customer experience will soon overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
We’re all on the hunt for that one cost-effective customer service tool that empowers agents and enchants customers. However, what we really need is a systematic and sustainable strategy to lead us to a viable solution. Here are a few key steps you can make to fix your customer service roadmap.
1. Create a multi-channel system
Although technology has paved the way for a plethora of communication channels, you need to maintain the consistency in quality of service across each one. Small businesses have accelerated their implementation of select, new communication channels. However, only a handful of them have succeeded in tying them into a complete system of customer care.
To craft a fully optimized multi-channel customer support strategy — and make it click — you’ll need the following components:
- Unified tools and processes — to capture all service requests by a customer in one place to give support agents a broader customer perspective. For instance, a tool that streamlines every single customer interaction captured in a ticket — including tweets, emails, and posts on Facebook
- Cross-channel communication — to manage a seamless flow of customer data from one channel to another
- A strategy for monitoring volume and engagement — to plan how proactive your response will be across various channels
- At least one live support channel — to provide instant, hands-on advice through calls and online chats
You may also need to assign support agents to each channel based on specific skill sets. For instance, phone agents should be good natural conversationalists to put the customers at ease. On the other hand, chat agents should ideally have strong multi-tasking skills since they usually handle multiple requests at a time. For boosting response efficiency further, you can optimize the content for your customer service reps’ knowledge base to better assist customer issues. You can even develop dedicated teams to tackle specific requests.
2. Tier your support
Technical support is often subdivided into tiers to help companies take a more systematic approach to problem solving. As your company expands, the more complex customers’ demands and expectations can become. You need to delegate responsibilities to your support team in a way that helps them divide and conquer support requests without disruption.
For instance, in a three-tiered technical support model, individuals in charge of the third line of support are trained to tackle the most complex technical problems that the rest of your support team may not have the expertise to handle. You can lay out the groundwork for escalation rules based on the customer’s problem, location, purchase history, etc. Once you have the right filters in place, you can automatically assign cases, escalate time-sensitive ones, and identify high-priority customers.
3. Prepare for new markets
Thriving locally is good, but surviving globally is a whole new ball game. As a global brand, your communications must transcend all barriers to put your customer base on an even turf of service experience. Once you start taking your business overseas, you also need to factor in meeting customer service demands across different time zones. Therefore, you may have to look into stretching the operation hours for customer support or hire local support agents in those regions.
You need to get your hands on a multilingual customer support solution and focus on localizing the content in your knowledge base to cater to the needs of international customers. “Creating a personalized dialogue with the customer has become critical,” says Leyla Seka, a senior vice president and general manager of Desk.com. “This makes it easy for the agent to interact in a localized way.”
The easiest way to connect with your consumers is to hire support reps that are fluent in the local language and familiar with the culture. In order to further improve case routing and accelerate resolution, you’ll want to prepare for 24-hour case triaging of service requests.
4. Consider outsourcing support
The first tier of support operations is like the infantry unit of your customer service ecosystem: They can easily be trained and set on task. And if they’re easy to train, they can easily be outsourced to a third party, especially when your company has a global presence.
However, you need to put considerable effort in developing their support training material to make them worthy representatives of your brand. As Virgin’s iconic founder Richard Branson once said: “Setting customer expectations at a level that is aligned with consistently deliverable levels of customer service requires that your whole staff, from product development to marketing, works in harmony with your brand image.”
You should also configure workflows to facilitate seamless access to customer information and routing cases. When you’re devising an outsourcing plan, make sure you include SLA enforcement and KPI reporting as well.
5. Integrate your systems
Identifying the key systems powering your business to integrate with support is one of the top priorities for business owners who have their service priorities in check. Ideally, all system integrations you make should have cross-platform compatibility and shouldn’t create an accessibility issue for team members working with different devices.
There are two ways you can integrate systems:
- Via data — to visualize one system within another. For instance, allowing your agents to examine shipping data through your support solution so they can instantly and precisely answer delivery-related queries.
- Via action — when one system triggers an action in another system. For example, if an agent discovers a bug in a product, it can be automatically logged in a project tracking platform like Jira for immediate resolution while keeping everyone up to date.
6. Expect fast and furious growth
Meteoric success in a short span of time can be a double-edged sword for business owners without a clear vision of scaling up. You need to decide whether you will extend your support to numerous brands and products as you continue to grow. You’ll also need to consider how much scope there is for customization in your service solution and whether it can integrate with intricate back office and ERP systems if required.
To maintain your service quality through the rapid growth stage, you need to make sure you can support the case volumes and API transactions necessary.
As the golden age of the empowered consumer dawns, you need to cultivate a customer service strategy that keeps you ten steps ahead of them. Once you learn to channel your resources efficiently, you’ll attain near psychic levels of expertise in customer problem identification and resolution.
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