Trying to improve customer service without collecting data on the success of your tactics is a wasted effort.
Many ideas for customer service improvements sound great on paper, but turn out to be meaningless to your customers. It’s even more problematic to stick blindly to with same old strategies when commerce is changing so rapidly.
Rather than investing time and money in every trendy customer service strategy, focus on ones that will allow you to continuously collect data and consistently improve the shopping experience.
Improve Complaint Resolution
Customer retention is vitally important, and the easiest way to chase your customers away is to make resolving their complaints a hassle. That’s why helping customers who are already dissatisfied should be your top priority.
Shoppers who already have a problem want a quick and easy resolution, so start improving your customer service by tracking the experiences of dissatisfied customers, particularly those issues that occur most frequently.
You’re probably already measuring the number of complaints about various aspects of customer experience, so revisit the metrics you’re using to make sure the data you gather is specific and actionable.
You also need to pay close attention to the service your company provides during the complaint resolution process. Because customers who have complaints already have reasons to be disloyal to your brand, you need to offer them rapid, complete conflict-resolution service to regain their confidence.
Track how long each resolution takes and make it a priority to reduce wait times for solutions. Offer immediate solutions as much as possible through live chat on your website and employee empowerment in stores.
Collect data on how many complaints have to be referred to other departments or have to be escalated to higher authority. These issues require additional wait time for customers and can frustrate them, so create a plan to eliminate referrals and escalations through employee empowerment and seamless communication between departments.
To proactively address these issues, create policies and training programs that anticipate customer issues and establish easy resolution procedures for each problem, focusing first on the most common problems. Use data on resolution times and escalations to gauge how your dissatisfied customers are being treated and continue working to resolve these issues.
Provide your associates a list of the most frequent issues, as well as a plan to help them resolve each immediately without escalating the issue or passing it to another department; a single-point resolution system is often the easiest way to coordinate these efforts.
After resolving an issue, you can also offer your customer a survey about the complaint resolution process to ensure that you’re improving his or her perception of your business with great service.
A Harvard Business Review study in 2010 found that customer service interactions are 4 times more likely to lead to a customer abandoning your business than to earning customer loyalty by the end of your interaction, so you can by no means take it as a given.
Offer Proactive Service
Forbes reports that your customers want proactive service, and providing it has the added benefit of creating happier employees who have more meaningful interactions with your customers. Train your sales associates on the importance of reaching out to each customer in your store, and teach them how to create an engaging atmosphere for your customers.
To measure the level of service in these personal interactions, use data gathering strategies like surveys and customer intercepts to directly ask your customers about the quality of their experience with your brand. You can ask questions specifically about whether or not your employees offered proactive service and if associates anticipated their needs.
Another great way to measure proactive service is to use mystery shoppers. Mystery shoppers will blend in with your other customers, so you can find out if they are being approached by your sales associates, and about the quality of those interactions. You can also ask mystery shoppers to give managers feedback right away, so that they can reward or correct employee behavior immediately.
Create an Omnichannel Experience
To engage modern shoppers, you need to provide interactive displays that entice your customers to make purchases and provide tools to connect with your customers online, like mobile apps and active social media accounts. You can create a better customer experience by offering a seamless omnichannel experience across all platforms and communication, in which customers can personalize the flow of information.
Measure the impact of your approach through customer surveys with questions about how customers use various channels to interact with your brand and what is working well. Don’t forget to ask them open-ended questions about what would improve the experience, to get their unfiltered feedback.
You can also collect data about how your customers are using your mobile app during shopping and brand interactions to find out what features best help your customers.
Other mobile tools, such as beacons, can help you engage customers through interactive shopping experiences and allow you to gather real-time information about how your customers are engaging with products and displays in your stores. This can help you figure out what your customers like and how to better engage them in the future.
Perceptions of your brand online can also be important indicators of customer service experience. Actively track mentions of your brand online and on social media to see what your customers are candidly saying to their friends about your business. Measure your customers’ engagement with your website and social accounts to determine if they are being used effectively. Online data can provide you with a wealth of information you may not find elsewhere.
All of these strategies can also be used in combination with online user profiles to create unique offers and shopping experiences for your customers. With user profiles, you can offer tailored discounts and rewards that help draw individual customers back into your stores. Measure their effectiveness with redemption rates and the frequency of each customer’s online and in-store purchases.
A customer service strategy is only effective if you can prove that it’s actually helping your customers. Instead of wasting time on strategies that seem effective at first, but don’t offer any ongoing benefit, invest time and energy into strategies that offer ongoing measurements of your customers’ experiences so that you can continually adapt your strategies to meet customer needs.