Gone are the days when customer support meant staffing a phone line between 9AM and 5PM. Today, people communicate by using social media, email, chat, phone, and SMS, and it is how they expect to communicate to businesses as well.
Companies that invest in these channels quickly see a new problem. What good is supporting Web chat if those conversations aren't creating higher customer satisfaction because they are slow to respond or providing lower-quality responses? Those companies quickly discover that with additional channels comes increased fragmentation.
The good news is that tools can be connected, data can be synced, and communication can be automated to ensure that customers have a great experience, no matter which channel they use to reach out to your brand. Technology can fix the problems that technology has introduced.
Here are ideas for maximizing your investment in multiple support channels. Your customers will thank you for it on their next satisfaction survey.
1. Automate Ubiquitous Sharing of Data
How frustrating to work with customer support on the phone and have to repeat yourself each time you talk to a more specific rep! Or to not get the answer you need via email and have to start all over when you call the support line.
Another example: you start a chat session with customer support about a laptop you ordered, and the rep you're speaking with immediately pulls up your customer record. He sees your repair and service history, so you don't have to find your serial number or receipt. The rep knows it based on your name and email address then quickly recommends a course of action tailored to your situation.
Those examples illustrate the same concept. Customers benefit when all members of the support team (from in-store reps to a support responsible for text chat) have a full view of the customer. A full view is crucial for providing the right service and reducing customer frustration.
2. Bridging Support with Other Departments
Your support reps may need to see events that happen with other departments. For example:
- When tickets are open and closed with engineering resources (e.g., in Jira, Basecamp)
- When billing details are updated (e.g., in Stripe, custom-built billing system)
- A history of the customer's past purchases and interactions (e.g., in Salesforce, Dynamics, SAP)
Because different departments use different tools, bridging software eliminates dropped balls and double entry.
Talk to your IT or operations department about integrating your business applications and custom tools to share this information. Alternatively, an integration platform like Azuqua (my company) can quickly set up integration between tools without the need for code.
3. Smart Notifications
When a customer communicates an issue, your company gets to work with solving it. It's crucial to communicate a status change to a customer issue.
Unfortunately, support reps can't check in with their colleagues for updates every second. But bots can constantly monitor for a status change for them.
One way to do this is triggering an alert whenever an outside resource completes a task. For example, when a customer complains about a bug on the website, tie your customer's support ticket with the project task that your engineers are using (perhaps in Jira).
When the task is closed by the engineers, automate an instant message to your rep, who can then notify the customer with no delay.
In this case, streamlining customer communication means taking out unnecessary manual communication. That results in less work and eliminates human error and promotes faster time to resolution.
4. Communicating Feedback Internally
Getting a handle of your customer satisfaction is key to improving your organization.
Setting up a connection between customer feedback and your CRM is one way to ensure your teams act on customer feedback. With the right API integration or out-of-the box connectivity solution, you can pull survey results automatically into your CRM.
For example, connecting your CRM with Twitter or SurveyMonkey will provide you with a consistent source of feedback. An integration platform can provide turnkey connections like that, and many IT departments can create this, too.
In addition to improving the customer support team, survey data is useful for everyone else's metrics. It helps in:
- Increasing upsell success. Customer support needs to know when to upsell your customers but shouldn't do so when there's negative sentiment. Sharing this information with the CSMs ensures that a mistimed upsell attempt never happens.
- Reducing churn. Low satisfaction customers may need remedial attention from customer success. By updating your customer success tool with survey results, your CSMs will know who is most at risk for churn.
- Improving sales communication. Having survey data synced into the CRM gives feedback to the sales team. That prevents future overpromising and gives your sales team the context for any future conversations with the customer.
- Better planning of engineering resources. Getting customer feedback informs planning and allocation of development resources.
* * *
Streamlining customer communication is all about automating predictable actions and improving data flow.
A central CRM should be the first thing an organization should pursue so that everyone at your company can see your customers' information. Setting up smart notifications also helps by eliminating error and improving time to resolution. Lastly, updating your CRM with customer feedback from social media or survey results lets your customer communication be heard across your company.
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