When thinking about how to increase customer retention, having good customer service is one of the best things you can do. Creating a fast and easy line of communication between you and your customers is key for building loyalty and a good reputation. Over the past year, we have seen the expectation for exceptional customer service increase and become much more important to customers when they are deciding where to spend their money. In fact, 68 percent of customers have said they would reduce their loyalty if they have a bad customer service experience. So, why have expectations risen so much over the past year?
Why Are Expectations Rising?
Customer service has always been important, but now it seems to be more important than ever. The main reason is a digital transformation that has been accelerated by COVID-19.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a shift from in-store purchasing to online purchasing. When I am thinking about buying something I typically look online first and only decide to buy in-store if it is convenient or there is an added incentive. Especially with the rise we have seen in mobile commerce, only 33 percent of consumers say they are likely to continue shopping in-store in the next two years.
Since doing everything online has become the norm, we are used to everything happening instantaneously, and consumers expect the same when it comes to customer service. Consumers don’t want to call a support line and be on hold for an hour before they get to speak to someone. They want to be able to use a chatbot to get their problem solved quickly and efficiently. And if they have to wait for more than a couple of minutes for a response, you’ll probably lose them.
Impact from COVID-19
Retailers have had this digital transformation and its impact on customer service on their radar for a while, but COVID-19 really accelerated that timeline. When we went into lockdown, consumers didn’t even have the option to go to a store if they wanted to. Therefore, brands had to quickly figure out how they could give quality customer service from behind a computer.
How to Meet Expectations
It is one thing to talk about how consumer expectations are rising, but it’s another to actually do something to meet them. Here are some ways you can improve your customer service experiences.
Promptly responding to customer inquiries is one of the best ways you can make your customer service experience go from mediocre to outstanding. The faster you respond to an inquiry, the more likely you are to keep the customer happy. However, not all problems can be solved quickly. If that is the case, it is best to clearly communicate to the customer what they should expect and how long it will take. It is also important that you make your customer service system as direct as possible. As a customer, nothing is more frustrating than having to repeat your problem multiple times to multiple people. If you can help customers by only having them talk to one person that is best.
Using a mobile app or mobile-friendly chatbot is a great way to improve your customer experiences. Consumers almost always have a mobile device with them, so making customer support available through an app is a simple way to delight your customers. Creating a mobile experience will let you help them quickly, and also embraces the digital transformation that consumers are embracing.
Offering personalized support is another way to meet the rising customer expectations. If you are able to tailor support to fit each customer’s needs like you would be able to in a store, you will make their experience faster and more direct. Finding a way to scale personalization efforts is key for building loyal customer relationships. So it might be time to ditch the scripts and let customer support interact more naturally with customers.
With the recent rise in customer expectations, having a good product doesn’t cut it anymore. You have to have a good product paired with a good customer experience, which includes in-person and digital experiences. Meeting and exceeding customer service expectations will help you build loyal customers that are more likely to return and recommend your brand to friends and family.