In today’s oversaturated market, businesses go far and beyond trying to stand out and differentiate themselves from their competitors. However, in their efforts to bring the most interesting and unique product to the market, a lot of companies happen to neglect the most important factor for their success-the relationship with their customers. In an era ruled by social media and online communications, it’s become convenient to assume that online marketing will grant loyal, paying customers.
In reality, however, in order to master the art of customer retention and to truly connect with both your prospect and returning clients, you need to go the extra mile in ensuring that your company is considered as trustworthy and responsive to their claims.
We’ve asked 9 professionals, experienced in the field of Customer Service and Customer Relations, to pinpoint the most common customer engagement mistakes and to give us some tips on how they can be avoided. Read along to find out whether your business is guilty of any of these malpractices and learn how to avoid them:
1. Relying on scripts and canned responses to communicate with your clients
"The most common mistake – particularly in online customer service – are cut & paste emails and scripted telephone responses. Success depends on conveying that you genuinely care about a customer – and not just trying to 'deal' with them." - Shaun Belding, CEO, The Belding Group of Companies and Customer Experience Consultant;
Talkative Tip: This really is one of the practices customers easily notice and can’t tolerate. Relying solely on scripted and generic emails will only widen the gap between you and your customers, who will then be less likely to ask for help with the issues they’re experiencing and would rather express their dissatisfaction via social media channels. The best practice is to maintain a good balance between pre-scripted responses and a customised greeting, which can boost your customer satisfaction score.
2. Failing to optimise inbound calls for customer support:
"It's all too easy for businesses to forget that while smartphones can put their info at a customer's fingertips, those customers still want to be able to hop on a quick phone call with them. Making your phone number clear and easy to find on your ads or website will make it easy for potential customers to get in touch (and hopefully turn into a loyal, repeat customer!)"- Sarah Gulbrandsen, VP of Client Operations, RingPartner;
Talkative Tip: Inbound calls are an invaluable asset for every eCommerce business, especially with the increased number of mobile web searchers who like the convenience of searching for and contacting a company only by using their smartphones. Even though real-time online communication such as web chat and web calling is becoming more and more popular, the majority of customers still prefer to have their queries answered via a phone call. Try increasing the volume of inbound calls your business receives by incorporating a 'Click to Call' button on your website, for a seamless, simplified user experience.
3. Focusing on technology trends at the expense of high quality customer service:
"Most customers are looking for the basics - quality products that are in stock and available when they want them, secure payment options, on-time deliveries, and dependable customer service post-purchase. Focus on the basics first, then look at implementing technologies that truly add value to the customer experience." Joe Keenan, Executive Editor, Total Retail at NAPCO Media;
Talkative Tip: Customers care more about the simplicity and quality of their online experience, rather than whether you’ve incorporated the newest technology for tracking leads and statistics to your website. When introducing new features, always ask yourself if they’re going to benefit the customer or are you just trying to outdo your competitors, while they're focused on providing good customer service.
4. Disempowering the customers by treating them as sales numbers:
"Sometimes organisations make the mistake of falling into the trap of looking at customers as numbers and metrics. At Salesforce, trust and customer success are our core values. We aim to build relationships of trust and camaraderie with our customers—whether that means doing our due diligence on who they are before we meet them, offering quick and high quality responses to their questions, or giving them useful and authentic content so they can successfully grow their businesses. At the end of the day, engagement should be centred on helping customers with what they need at that moment while also helping them keep them focused on their growth." - Marie Rosecrans, Senior Vice President of Salesforce SMB;
Talkative Tip: What makes a company stand out over its competitors is the extent to which it engages with its customers, going the extra mile to understand their goals and contribute to their success. Looking at customers only as revenue sources will prevent you from building lasting relationships based on brand loyalty and will harm your business’ reputation. It’s important to develop a good communication structure with your clients, not only to have a better understanding of their pain points but to prove that you want to be involved in their success and further development.
5. Missing out on engagement opportunities by not utilising all communication channels:
"Avoiding exploration of all engagement channels to maximise lead generation opportunities is a business engagement limitation which can be resolved by diversifying the available contact options, including contact forms, live chat, co-browsing. Each of these aspects will encourage communication and reassurance, essential to create a successful impression and subsequent transaction." - Hardip Singh, CEO, Style Our Home;
Talkative Tip: The newest technological developments offer online businesses various ways for communicating directly with customers - over the phone, through web chat, via email etc. <a href "https://talkative.uk/what-is-webrtc">WebRTC-enabled communication enables the real-time interaction between agents and customers, allowing for various degree of engagement, which can have a positive impact on your company’s sales and brand’s reputation.
6. Struggling to provide customer support over social media channels:
"As digital technology continues to evolve, too many brands still struggle with social media engagement. If you claim to offer Twitter support, but your only replies are a link to fill out a form, or instructions for reaching out via phone or email, you’re missing the point, and your competitors will benefit. Companies that deliver best-in-class service support customers in their channel of choice and develop an access strategy for each of those channels." - Erica Marois, Community Strategist at ICMI;
Talkative Tip: As recent statistics show, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing, because of its high response rate and the provided efficient service. Your business can’t afford missing out on the opportunity to connect with customers on a more personal and informal level, especially if they’re already using the platform to share their opinions and communicate with others. By utilising social media platforms for customer service purposes your support agents can directly impact clients’ purchasing intent and be more involved in their shopping journey.
7. Lacking empathy in customer interactions:
"In my view the biggest mistake that people make with customer contact is lacking empathy. You should treat each customer contact as a personal interaction where your top priority is to understand what they want, once you understand their perspective it’s always easier to solve their issue." - Sam Gibson, Managing Director, Enjovia;
Talkative Tip: When communicating with customers, one thing is for sure: they will remember the interactions in which they were made to feel special. Even when the customer isn’t right, train your agents to show understanding and be respectful of their frustrations. Your business’ contact centre should aim to provide a positive and memorable experience while solving the clients’ issues, and, while not every problem can be resolved immediately, it isn’t difficult to approach every situation with empathy.
Learn more: Empathy is the Key to Great Customer Service
8. Failing to differentiate new from returning customers:
"A customer engagement mistake I see again and again is when former customers, those who have already had a relationship with a brand, are treated as new prospects who never had a relationship. It discounts the value of the relationship and makes the former customer feel unappreciated and forgotten. This means when someone asks their opinion about a brand, the former customer-turned-stranger might not recommend the brand. Treat your customers as the people they are, and don't dump them into buckets without knowing the real relationship they have with you." - Jeannie Walters, Customer Experience Investigator, 360Connect.
Talkative Tip: When building your customer engagement strategy, what should be prioritised is nurturing the relationships with already established customers, as this personal treatment resonates with customers’ willingness to advocate and endorse your brand. Your business strategy should be in pursuant with the type of customers your sales are coming from- are you generating revenue from 2000 different clients, or do you have a dozen high-value ones?
9. Failing to stimulate and optimize your employees’ performance:
"The largest mistake companies are making is to not focus on employees first. Employees deliver the customer experience, and if they are not happy, satisfied, engaged, empowered, etc., they will not be able to deliver the experience that your customers desire or deserve. Listen to employees. Understand their needs and their experience. Ensure they have the tools, resources, training, and support they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities - and to deliver that great customer experience." – Annette Franz, Founder/CEO at CX Journey Inc.
Talkative Tip: Your customer service agents are the ones directly communicating with your client- therefore, it is vital for them to have understood and adopted the company’s policy and ideology. Apart from ensuring that your agents’ working environment is bringing out their best performance, it is important for them to maintain good communication between one another. As studies have shown, by integrating WebRTC-enabled communications, the interactions between employees can be significantly improved and made much more seamless and simplified.
These professionals within the customer service and experience industry surely know the recipe for retaining loyal customers and satisfying their needs in any way possible. To find out what works for your business, however, you need to be aware of what your customers’ pain points are and work in collaboration with your employees to ensure that their issues are resolved through efficient and personalised communication.
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