Great customer service focuses on delivering a holistic, genuine experience, regardless of the different touch points that customers or potential customers engage with businesses.
When you meet people face to face, for instance, and they inquire about your service or product, you take every measure possible to give them only the utmost levels of customer service.
And this means great communication not only to pitch your marketing message, but to effectively allay concerns and persuade purchase decision. But are you extending your efforts to guarantee great customer service to your engagements over the phone?
The Mobile Purchase Path
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are already dominating ecommerce, and the industry is still on the rise. Kissmetrics published a report last year citing numbers from 2013 and the first half of 2014, stating that about 78% of consumers who search on mobile phones and 64% on tablets ended up purchasing through a local store they found online.
Compare that to consumers using PCs and laptops at 61%, and you might be surprised to find out that the mobile purchase path is much more traveled nowadays.
It’s easy to see why: searching for places to shop in when you’re on the go is simply convenient and empowering. For businesses, it’s a race not only to make their phone numbers clickable and addresses visible, but also to lead search rankings and land clientele.
Obviously, mobile is key to the modern consumer journey, but many businesses are still missing a crucial piece – there’s a ton of buzz around mobile marketing but not enough about great customer service over the phone.
Extending the Customer Experience
Great customer service experts will tell you that as a technical term, they’d much rather prefer using “customer experience” for several reasons, the foremost of which is that the holistic verbiage is much more meaningful especially now in our modern times, where discovery, marketing, sales, and repeat business all happen in one “experience.” Multiple touch points, sure, but a single experience.
What this means is that great customer service maintains its levels of quality throughout the entire experience, and not just at certain touch points. You can’t have great customer experience face to face but suck over the phone. That’s not good for the brand.
And it’s not just for the sake of branding too.
Lead Generation and Nurturing
In today’s age of digital marketing, businesses may sometimes overlook the straightforward value of over-the-phone communications: ensure great customer service over the phone and you instantly have a lead generation and nurturing channel.
Lead data capture and effective lead nurturing are important concepts in currently trending industries like online inbound marketing and social media. With all the hype over these cutting-edge channels, however, you shouldn’t lose sight of direct communication over the phone.
Depending on your interactions with your potential customers over the phone, you can generated leads, nurture prospects, or even create opportunities for word-of-mouth referrals.
But then the big question is HOW?
You’re not an expert in great customer service and your communication skills might not be geared towards the nuances of guaranteeing smooth, seamless experiences over the phone. Fear not: it all starts with something anyone can do.
If you truly believe in the value you bring your customers, your efforts across the entire consumer journey will reflect the sincerity of your service or product. In the same way your customers can “hear” you smiling over the phone despite not seeing you, they can and will appreciate sincere service and genuine value.
The very values you espouse as an entrepreneur will be communicated by how genuine you are in your approach.
Well okay, that sounds nice. Be genuine. Easy enough for a first step; but what’s next? What about all the technical bits that dictate service quality?
Tips and Tricks to Expert Over-the-Phone Customer Service
Let’s run through some of the easiest tweaks you can apply to your over-the-phone conversations with people that can turn your engagements into great customer service experiences. Remember, be genuine first and foremost. After that, you can:
Personalize and brand – try calling your operator or cable provider. The first and last thing you hear are scripted greetings personalized to your name and branded for greater recall.
It’s a simple and effective trick you can adopt for your own efforts. Brand your calls and personalize your approach, making each engagement over the phone memorable and increasing recall for your business.
Set and meet expectations – lots of businesses are about meeting expectations, and that’s rightfully so, but what many businesses don’t understand is if they don’t set customer expectations in the first place, then they’ll need to meet varying expectations from different customers and leads.
This is a highly nuanced facet of great customer service over the phone that service representatives are trained to always observe: always set your customers’ expectations. Take a look at when you can realistically deliver the product or when you can guarantee a meeting, let them know the concrete details, and then meet these set expectations.
Also set their expectations if there may be factors that may be unsettling. Let them know that there may be possibilities that are less than desirable – this transparency is valuable to establish trust, and it also does away with unpleasant surprises because they’re already expecting it.
Always confirm and verify – chances are you’ll be dealing with lots of sensitive and personal information over the phone. Great customer service extends to every aspect of the experience – including data handling.
Corporations of every size all have strict compliance standards when it comes handling data for a reason, and the least you can add to your over-the-phone skill set is to ensure that all the information you get and receive is accurate. This means confirming and verifying each piece of vital information.
Don’t hesitate to repeat complicated details to be doubly sure, and don’t hesitate to ask your customers if they remember complicated details you give them by asking them to repeat it. Insist on them writing it down, making sure you do your part in terms of great customer service through efficient data handling.
Follow up – not only will following up with leads and customers get you extra brownie points for being proactively concerned with their satisfaction, you also get that many more chances to upsell or cross-sell where and when applicable.
Some businesses can underestimate the value of following up, but this fundamental to great customer service. Some entrepreneurs get too busy to follow up – if this sounds like you, you can leverage some useful tools like schedulers with alarms to ensure you follow up with each lead and customer especially if they ask for it specifically.
Try these four simple tweaks and you’ll notice a vast improvement in how satisfied your leads and customers are with your over-the-phone engagements. You don’t need to be an expert to provide great customer service. Just remember that the entire experience counts, despite the multiple, often disparate touch points in your consumers’ purchase paths.