Hitting a Customer Service Homerun

By Allison Howen, Associate Editor

Seventy-six percent of consumers will stop doing business with a brand after a bad customer service experience (Ovum, 2015). These "bad"¬ù experiences, however, aren't limited to brick-and-mortar stores.

Increasingly, consumers are demanding high levels of service across channels (Web, mobile and social), and do not hesitate to voice their dissatisfaction when their expectations are not met. Despite increased expectations and the growing number of channels available to share experiences (good and bad), brands can still win at customer service, but doing so requires more than just displaying contact information on a website. Rather, brands should consider the following three tips when strategizing a winning digital customer service plan.

1. Make mobile the MVP.

In today's always-connected world, a smartphone is rarely out of its owner's sights. This is why Ross Haskell, senior director of products at BoldChat by LogMeIn, suggests that brands make mobile the most valuable player (MVP) of their customer service initiatives.

"The single biggest trend is the ongoing move to the mobile Web,"¬ù said Haskell. "Smartphones and tablets are the center of an increasing number of users' digital experiences, so it is critical that brands embrace not only mobile websites and apps, but mobile engagement as well."

¬ù Brands can offer mobile customer support in a variety of ways, including by adding live chat to mobile websites and native applications. For example, TouchCommerce not only offers live chat for mobile sites, but also recently launched an API (read more at wsm.co/touchapi) that enables users to integrate live-chat capabilities into their native mobile apps. The API streamlines the customer service experience by enabling companies to assist customers without directing them to an outside website or call center. In addition to live chat via native apps or mobile sites, companies can leverage a very familiar mobile feature to better serve their customers - SMS messaging (a.k.a. text messaging).

BoldChat Enterprise, for example, offers this functionality, which Haskell notes is a fast, cost-effective and growing channel for inbound requests. Aside from texting, brands can also serve customers from another familiar channel - social.

2. Throw a social strike.

Ovum's 2015 research revealed that 14 percent of consumers leverage social media to reach businesses with customer support questions, which is up from 5 percent just two years ago. What's more, social presents a great opportunity for brands trying to separate themselves from the competition, as only 5 percent of customers say that social media has been a reliable channel for resolving issues on their first attempt. Although it can be difficult to cut through the social noise to serve customers in this channel, it is important brands respond to social customer service requests due to the fact that these conversations are public. By responding, companies demonstrate that they are listening, engaging and doing their best to meet their customers' needs.

3. Take a swing at self-service.

While traditional live chat is a common feature for many websites nowadays (discover three ways to spruce up live chat initiatives at wsm.co/livechatplus), brands can enhance their site's customer service offerings by adding a self-service option.

"Today's consumers are much more likely to use self-service than in the past," said Marina Kalika, director of product marketing at TouchCommerce. "This is especially the case for millennials as compared to older demographics. They are self-sufficient; they are efficient in using their time and resources; and they want to get the answers quickly."

One way to help customers serve themselves is by featuring frequently asked question (FAQ) sections on websites. Additionally, brands can integrate self-service solutions like TouchCommerce's TouchGuides, which present customers with automated guides to help them resolve common issues on their own.

Batting Order

By putting together an omnichannel customer service plan, brands can position themselves to hit a homerun whenever, and wherever, a customer service request arises.