Customer service has changed wildly in recent years, as people start to demand instant responses and convenience when dealing with companies. Naturally, it makes sense to be on call when these demands are made, as you risk losing a sale or dropping a repeat customer if you are unable to meet their needs. In a modern culture where it is all about speed, messaging apps have been adopted by businesses to enable them to meet the needs of their customers quickly. Enquiries that used to be handled by email and take hours to see a response are increasingly becoming replaced by instant messages between client and business.
This is something that we can see becoming essential for any business that has the resources to enable such a service. Messenger communications can provide a competitive advantage – if you sell a similar product to a competitor, but they are on hand around the clock to respond to enquiries, and you are not, then the likelihood is that the customer will go with the former. Whether this is a high priority or something that you would seek to implement over time, the following tips will ensure that you go about it in the right way.
1. Be in the Right Place
With analytics and tracking services, even smaller companies have the opportunity to know their customer like never before. If you are going for messaging as part of your customer service, then it is crucial to ensure that you are on the right apps. If your audience tends to use WhatsApp, make sure you have a contact number on there. If 90% of your customers are on Twitter, have a service agent ready and willing to respond to direct messages.
2. Keep Your Tone Consistent
Messaging functionality may be an extra cost, but this is offset through the opportunity to build personal relationships with your audience. You likely already have branding that dictates your message through sales, blog posts and other media, and instant messages from your brand need to reflect the same tone and goal. Social missteps can make for massive ripple effects, so all communications must be on message.
3. Design a Seamless Experience
Regardless of where the chat is initiated, you probably have an end goal in mind for the potential customer. This could be making a sale, gaining a Twitter follower or email subscriber or anything else that affects your bottom line. Ideally, you will, therefore, have full control over where they go at the end of the chat. This could be a signup page, product review or anything else. Seamless integration into your website, mobile site and app are therefore crucial, and any chats that take place on external services such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp should be branded as heavily as possible, and always end with a link to more information.
4. Push Towards Native Messaging
Following on from the tip above, the more control you have over the messaging environment, the better. External services are great for starting a dialogue, but you will want to get your customer onto your site as quickly as possible. Popular apps are great conversation starters, but third-party tools are not necessarily great for sales. Suggest early on that your own live chat or alternative messaging option may be a good idea.
5. Monitor Performance
If you are operating a messaging channel around the clock and for large customer numbers, the chances are you have an entire team conversing with clients. Without first-hand knowledge of every conversation, it is worth gaining an overview with performance indicators. In knowing what works and who is converting questions into sales, you can further specialise your chat offering to capitalise on anything that is going well. Response times, survey answers and more can all lead to regular improvements to your communication facilities.
6. Set and Meet Expectations
Your chat and messaging services do not need to be perfect – they merely need to be an improvement over what you had before. If you do not have the resources to operate around the clock, or cannot handle WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter enquiries all at once and to a high standard, don’t! Prioritise services and ensure performance targets are met. If a live chat system indicates that the support desk is open, users expect almost instant communication and disappointing them can wipe out a potential sale.
7. Publicise Your Customer Responsibility
Just as poor customer service can lose a sale, great support can gain one. It is worth the time and money to let people know that if they have any questions, they can reach you instantly through any available channel. This could be the edge that draws their attention away from the competition, but only if they know about it.
8. Streamline the Messaging Experience
Your customer service agents should see the same messages as those they are chatting to. Ensure that the software is in place that both sides of the conversation can use emojis and images if they are relevant to ease communication between all parties.
9. Consider Chatbots
If you do not have the resources for regular live chat, a chatbot can take some of the strain. Be clear that it is a bot – do not insult a customer’s intelligence by claiming it is a real person – and let the bot do the early legwork to qualify queries, provide information and direct people to the right department.
10. Do Not Rely Solely on Bots
If you have no customer service representatives at all, then chatbots are a bad idea. While they can oversee and resolve some queries from beginning to end, they are not a replacement for the human touch. You also would not want your brand image in the hands of a robot based on current technology. You would be better off waiting until resources are available to make the most of the potential of live interactions.