This is a guest post written by Skubana. Skubana acts as an operating system for e-commerce, automating every aspect of your online business after the checkout.
Customer service and customer experience are intricately linked, but to some sellers they can seem like one and the same - they’re not. Customer service is what leads to the customer experience that will build satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat customers. It’s all how you deal with your customers to provide them with everything they need to trust your business and make a purchase.
This is what drives a customer’s desire to interact with your business. All interactions a customer has with your business is part of their customer experience, whether it’s speaking to a member of your support team, subscribing to a newsletter, or simply browsing your website.
Forbes defines customer experience as “the perception the customer has of your brand.” McKinsey reports that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, All marketing efforts, UX design, and business planning should be crafted with CX (customer experience) in mind, and not just in maintaining it either - for your business to grow, CX has to improve along with it. Like any relationship, it’s important that your customer feels supported, understood, and cared for - it’s also important that things don’t get stagnant. New positive experiences are part of any good relationship that a customer can have with a business, and constant improvement is a necessary element of that.
How can customer service craft the perfect customer experience?
From your site layout to your pricing, the way you design your business impacts CX. Planning for the overall customer experience is necessary, but it’s also a generalization - you’re aiming for the experience that will cater to the needs of your average customer, and that’s great. Customer service, on the other hand, is your is your chance to really shine by getting personal - it’s the best opportunity a business owner has to directly interact with their customers as individuals, and address each of their individual needs.
Defined as “the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services,” customer service is a fundamental element of the customer journey from learning about a product, interacting with your business, making a purchase, and beyond.
Generally speaking, customer service is reserved for two situations - inquiries, and complaints. How you deal with both plays a crucial role in the customer experience of anyone interested in your products.
Dealing with inquiries
Customers these days expect things to happen quickly. If they make an inquiry, they want answers and they want them fast. 90% of Americans reportedly use customer service to decide whether they’ll do business with a company, and a Salesforce survey says 70% of customers report that technology makes it easy for them to take their business elsewhere if they don’t get what they want.
It’s a competitive world, and the e-commerce gives customers access to more choice than ever before, but that challenge is also an opportunity. It works both ways, with your business having more potential customers at your fingertips every single day - all you have to do is give them what they want. Ready for some more stats?
Happy customers are so likely to tell their friends about your business that every satisfied customer can equal nine new referrals to your business. Unsurprisingly, that works both ways too! Unhappy customers can cost you - so how do you make sure things go smoothly?
First off, it’s best not to keep customers waiting. The human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to 9 seconds between 2000 to 2013, and the longer a customer is left waiting for a response to a question, the more likely they are to leave your site and go elsewhere. Customer support teams can only do so much, so automation is the key to success here.
Automated customer support can answer a lot of regular customer inquiries, and for those customers who want to speak to a live agent, the fact that they’re receiving a response to say someone will be along as soon as possible can make all the difference between making a sale and shopping cart abandonment or a high bounce rate.
Dealing with complaints
This is even more sensitive than handling inquiries. Obviously nobody wants have a dissatisfied customer on principle alone, and beyond that, unhappy customers will leave at best and complain to other potential customers at worst. 78% of customers have left a transaction unfinished because of a poor customer service experience and a dissatisfied customer can cost your business twelve times what it makes from a single happy buyer, making customer service in the complaints department vitally important to any business.
However, a customer’s feelings aren’t set in stone - it’s impossible to please everybody, but handling a complaint correctly can calm things down and prevent a customer from packing up and leaving for another business. 92% of customers would consider going back to a company after a bad experience if they received a discount, an apology, or proof of better service.
We’ve written before about how to handle customers having negative experiences, and the key is reaction time and attention to detail. Here are the best steps to follow:
- Respond to the buyer as quickly as you can. Create a schedule and check reviews regularly.
- Apologize to the buyer for any inconveniences and be sincere, no matter how trivial the matter may seem to you.
- Offer to make amends – it’s cheaper to offer a free product replacement or a gift card than to lose that customer.
- Mention that you are taking steps to correct any issues causing the negative feedback.
The main thing is that your customer feels heard and understood. While many people complaining simply want to vent or are doing so out of anger, 48% of them just want results, and that’s still a very wide margin to work with.
Good service equals good customer experience
The way a customer perceives your company is everything, and every time a customer makes an inquiry or even makes a complaint is another golden opportunity to interact with them and give them what they’re looking for.
They can’t be kept waiting, and they can’t be given broad generalizations. They need service tailored to their specific needs to make them feel like their retailer actually understands what they want as an individual. The top two reasons businesses lose customers are the customers having a negative customer experience and the company taking too long to solve a problem, and those two scenarios are highly connected.