24 – 48 hours for an email reply is unacceptable customer service today. I don’t care who you are, you should never send an auto-reply telling a customer to just sit and wait.
More and more of the interaction with our customers today is taking place online. If you still think online doesn’t matter, you either just came out of a cave (I don’t mean to offend, but it should be known by now) or remember that I previously pointed out the role of technology in the customer experience since:
- 53% purchased in-store after conducting online research
- 44% bought online after looking in-store
- 40% compared prices before making a purchase
More customer transactions taking place online means more customer service instances in the digital world. How are we keeping up? Not that well. The guys over at Zendesk have put together this great infographic on the need for better digital customer service experience. While more business is being done online, customer satisfaction with online customer service continues to decrease.
Pardon the interruption, but I need to point something out in this infographic. Just in case you just browsed past this and it didn’t really sink in, did you see the rate of customers who think customer service is EXTREMELY important?
The more a customer shops online, the more that customer considers customer service EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
Do you know your customers? How often are they shopping online outside of doing business with you? The more they do, the more they’ll demand better service from those online retailers…and from you.
Next, let’s review how those customers prefer to interact with customer service. How do you stack up compared to the needs and wants of your customers?
Stop thinking customer service is a call center.
Too many of us think that customer service is the call center. Phone customer service is overly emphasized in today’s customer service management practices. We hear too much about call centers, call center practices, call center agents, and call center metrics.
Not enough organizations are taking advantage of the fact that customers don’t REALLY want to talk on the phone. Sure, many use it. But many more are willing to and look for the opportunity to interact with customer service through other channels.
Almost 60% of customers prefer to interact with customer service over email. Imagine if our email service standards were better than the typical 24-48 hours, that even more customers would be willing to use that channel. The same goes for live chat. Our team has a goal of an under 10 minute response, typically it’s much less than that. If by 20 minutes we haven’t responded with an answer we reply with effective status updates and let them know where we are in the process and when to expect an answer or a resolution.
The need for proactive customer service
We need to turn customer service from a defensive practice (receiving calls, emails, chats about questions and problems) into an offensive customer experience. We can do much more on being pre-emptive to customer question, wants, and needs. Make status tracking more prominent, automatically email or text shipping updates. I shouldn’t have to look it up manually each time. Text me where my item is each step of the way.
We can do much better improving our information and documentation online to really answer customer questions, not just do what’s good for SEO. What questions do your customers typically ask about your product or service? Those answers should be part of the product or service description and can be included as part of installation or post-purchase documentation.
What’s your take? What other area of the digital customer service experience can we improve?