Customer Experience News & Trends

Customer satisfaction has sunk: 10 ways to crank it back up

Send the right message

Customer EmailEmail isn’t antiquated, and it isn’t a new service tool. In fact, more than 50% of execs in a Robert Half Technology survey think real-time messaging tools such as IM will surpass email’s use in five years.

But remember, the television didn’t kill the radio, and it’s unlikely that any one communication tool is going to kill another.

So always consider email a valuable source for service — a touch point that customers want to use. However, customers’ expectations have changed in recent years. Because responses are so quick in social media and live chat, customers often expect that speed when answering their emails.

Set the standard

Because many people handle email — and most exchanges can’t be fully scripted — you want to establish some standards so customers will get consistent email experiences and answers.

These are from Matt Iorlano, the associate director of customer service and quality assurance at Berklee College of Music in Boston, whose team deals mostly in email from an online student body:

  • Respond to a message within 30 minutes. That’s the accepted time frame for social media these days, but Iorlano has found that customers using email expect it, too.
  • Offer a welcoming introduction and encouraging closing — much like a phone conversation: “Hello, Mr. Customer. Thank you for contacting me.” “Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do. You can also reach me at …”
  • Stay script-free. Write casually, friendly and professionally.
  • Avoid acronyms, inter-office terminology and any other language or phrases customers may not be familiar with.
  • Snip URLs. Instead of adding long URLs into messages, snip them at tinyurl.com or bitly.com, and paste them into email copy.

Become more credible

While brevity is important to getting email messages read, adding some information to build credibility through a medium where customer and company rep never see or hear each other is important.

Delivery Success, a provider of HTML templates, added two testimonials to the bottom of its marketing email. The result: A whopping 247% more clicks to the company site were generated. The key was they established trust without forcing recipients to read much more than what they wanted to know, according to Anne Holland’s WhichTestWon.com.

Get social right

social media mistakesSocial media is a podium on top of the world. It certainly gives companies a chance to show off their good stuff. Unfortunately, more often customers use it to shine a negative light on companies.

Customers are more likely to use social media to air complaints, rather than solve problems, the CFI study found. But companies can use it for damage control. Serious damage control: 95% of customers who air grievances on social media sites and had their issues responded to by a company appreciated the personal contact.

Follow social best practices

Social media may be new, but there are some set expectations in place already. Make sure reps:

  • Respond quickly. Just 61% of customers said they got a response within 24 hours of a social media inquiry, according to research from Jacqueline Anderson, director of product development for social media and text analytics at J.D. Power & Associates. If you can’t deliver immediate responses in social media, post online the hours when someone is available for immediate response and what customers should do for fast answers when that option isn’t available.
  • Use the right language. Use words that reflect concern and courtesy — perhaps implement a policy that requires every interaction to include formalities such as “please,” “thank you” and “I understand …”
  • Bring reps to life. Let customers know they’re chatting or tweeting with a real person by having reps use their real initials or first name and last initial in conversations. Even better, include a photo with posts and responses.
  • Focus on resolution. As much as we focus on response time in social media, it’s equally important to focus on getting issues fixed. For one bank, that means agents work through customer issues until the customer confirms it has been resolved.
  • Ensure cohesion. Regularly check everything you have online to ensure it all looks the same and provides the same information.

Add a personal touch

Customers often find it easy to complain in social media because it’s not like facing a real person, when they’d likely be more gentle and courteous. While the intent to be more personal in social media may not be to simmer anger, that could be a nice side effect.

At Bright House Networks, customer service pros who handle social media inquiries keep an eye out for ways to wow customers on a personal level. And this one has worked: If reps see that customers have dogs (customers often post photos of them on social sites), they sometimes send a puppy treat to their homes as a surprise.

In many cases, those customers post in social media about their surprise and delight – and new-found loyalty to Bright House, according to Brian Weber, director of public engagement of eCare at Bright House.

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