14 September 2020

Online Customer Service: How To Survive In The Digital World | Aaron Henriques

Have you ever heard the term “Digital Darwinism?” If not, it refers to the process of businesses needing to adapt to meet changing customer demands – demands which now centre around digital technology. As the term would suggest, businesses need to evolve and cater to customer preferences if they are to stand a chance in this new digital world.

The ability to provide excellent online customer service is one of the many factors which contribute to digital adaptation. This article will explore ways through which businesses can ensure their online customer service meets growing expectations and that their online customers’ needs are not being neglected.

Are you neglecting your online customer service? Let’s find out.


Provide multiple options for communication and cater to your customers’ preferences

In a survey, 89% of consumers said they want choices for how they communicate with businesses. Luckily, thanks to technology, it’s possible to offer multiple methods of communication including phone, email, social media and live chat support. Different people will have different preferences for how they contact a business, so it’s a good idea to offer a variety of options so each customer can choose their preference.

For example, 61% of consumers under the age of 24 hate making phone calls to businesses. In fact, they actively go out of their way to avoid doing so, preferring to use live chat or social media. A business who only offers phone and email customer service, then, may lose a lot of young people from their customer base.


Ensure you respond to enquiries quickly

One of the consequences of the new digital climate is that brands are now expected to be available for contact 24/7. Gone are the days where it was acceptable to reply to an email 2 days later, or to let your customer wait on hold for half an hour. 52% of consumers have even admitted to abandoning a purchase because they couldn’t get answers quickly enough. That’s over half of your customers who may decide to not go through with a purchase because you weren’t available to instantly answer their burning questions.

This essentially comes down to respecting your customers’ time. The longer they have to wait to hear back from you, the more frustrated they’ll become and the more time they’ll have to explore alternatives from your competitors. Tools such as proactive live chat allow you to engage in instant, real-time communication with your customers – right there and then – at the time they’re on your website and looking for answers.


Utilise online proactive customer service

When was the last time you walked into a department store and couldn’t find an assistant available to help you? Probably never. Department store assistants will proactively approach customers and ask if they need help – this is known as proactive customer service. You see, humans often don’t like to ask for help, but will gladly accept it when its offered. The ability to approach a customer and provide assistance before they get frustrated is one of the best ways to ensure they have a great experience with your business.

Live chat software is one way of offering this kind of service online. With this tool, you’re able to proactively pop up to your website visitors and ask them if they need help – just like how a department store assistant would in a physical store. This allows you to clear up any questions or concerns your website visitor may have and help them to feel positive about your business.

Another way of offering proactive service is by searching your brand on social media. Find customers who are tweeting or posting questions or frustrations about your business, and proactively reply to them. They didn’t specifically ask for help, but you’re proactively offering it to them anyway.


Think about the entire customer experience

Excellent customer service doesn’t stop at communication between business and customer. Businesses renowned for their excellent service, such as Amazon and Netflix, go above beyond to ensure everything about the customers’ experience with their brand is perfect. Technology has the power to make the entire customer experience much more obstacle-free. Even the British Government has imposed a Digital Transformation Strategy which aims to be met by 2020, to help provide a more efficient, accurate and responsive service to citizens.

Businesses who haven’t utilised technology are missing out on customer touchpoints which competitors are able to harness. A customer might want to visit a business’ website, find them on social media or engage in live chat. An inability to do so will cause blips in the customer experience and frequently lead to unsatisfied or frustrated customers.


Realise that online customer service doesn’t equal robotic service

Many businesses are recognising the importance of offering online customer service, however, many of them also seem to be confusing this with robotic service. Online customer service does not mean you need to be providing chatbots or sending unpersonalised automated emails. In a study by PwC, 4,000 US consumers were surveyed, of which 8 in 10 stated that they would prefer human interaction over technology. 

Your customers are probably human. This means they want to be treated like a human! Empathy is highly valued by customers and this is something that only another human can provide. Technology simply gives us a way of automating repetitive, labourious tasks – freeing us up to do what we do best, which is human to human interaction! It also enables us to give this service more quickly, more efficiently and in a way that customers prefer.


Is your business ready to adapt to meet changing customer demands? Or will it succumb to Digital Darwinism?

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