Here’s the bad news: Research indicates that 80 percent of companies think they deliver “superior” customer service, but only 8 percent of customers agree that the same companies actually do.
While these figures are deeply disheartening to business leaders who struggle daily to increase customer satisfaction in their organization, the good news is that connecting with customers on an emotional level, which is a hallmark of the Digital Age, has never been easier. While the vast majority of entrepreneurs will agree that effective use of technology is key to achieving customer satisfaction, there remains a significant lack of knowledge about how to do it.
1. Use the subject line when emailing
Most written customer communication now takes place through email, and since your customers often receive dozens and sometimes hundreds of email messages each day, their inboxes are overflowing. If you want to stand a chance to be heard above the noise and not have your email correspondence go into the trash or, even worse the spam folder, you need to help your customers cut through the clutter and zero in on messages that require attention. Use calls to action in the subject lines of your messages, such as IMPORTANT, URGENT, and ACTION REQUIRED NOW. This allows the recipient to quickly prioritize the messages that are most critical, and also identify those which can wait.
2. Use video conferencing
Video conferencing is becoming more and more commonplace. A powerful tool for increasing customer satisfaction, it is also convenient and inexpensive in most cases. One of the biggest challenges we often encounter with customers is the inability to get together face-to-face to discuss issues and resolve problems. However, there’s no substitute for seeing one another even if it is on a screen rather than in person. Video conferencing lets you collaborate with and assist your customers no matter where you are, and many platforms provide a set of additional tools (often with incremental charges or premium subscriptions) for screen sharing, whiteboarding, and even application sharing.
3. Customization with Big Data
The democratization of information brought about by Big Data is providing insights into customer behavior that were considered unknowable until quite recently. As a result, Big Data analytics are changing how we conduct business and work with our customers because we have a better sense of how their perceptions, preferences and challenges affect the overall customer experience. By tapping into Big Data, companies of all sizes are presented with a real and lasting opportunity to see their customers as individuals, making it possible to anticipate their needs in advance and turn them into loyal fans who will not only continue buying goods and services, but also evangelize your company to the world.
4. Keep them in the loop with text messages (SMS)
Text messages have dramatically replaced voice calls as the most ubiquitous form of mobile communications. The average person receives dozens of text messages every day, and studies show that people are more likely to respond to texts than just about any other customer channel. Companies should use text messages to get the word out to their customers, and if you want to let a customer know about something right away, text messages are always the best way to go. For example, you might want to confirm an appointment or let them know that a deadline is approaching: SMS ensures that the right people get the right message at the right time, and is a proven tool for increasing customer satisfaction.
5. Create an internet forum for information sharing
In the Information Age, it is crucial to provide customers with forums where they can communicate, engage and interact with your company in several ways. For example, Slack is an online instant messaging and collaboration system that enables you to centralize all of your notifications, from sales to tech support to marketing and customer care, into a single searchable place where teams can share, discuss, interact and take action. Other solutions include HipChat, Jostle and Ryver, all of which provide a similar experience that can easily be utilized with customers to consolidate communications, announcements, knowledge and information that would otherwise be sent via numerous disconnected platforms including email, text and phone calls.
6. Use social media
Advances in technology have given us social media tools that can be used to find your customers and make contact with them. Your customers expect you to be on social media, and studies show that companies are highly rewarded for providing great support experiences on social media. Customers need to know that you hear their opinions and questions, and social media should be considered no differently than online reviews posted on Yelp or phone calls to your customer service department. An effective strategy for monitoring social media, engaging with customers via Facebook and Twitter, and providing a reliable, consistent stream of outgoing information to customers via your own social media presence is critical to increasing satisfaction.
7. Easy payment options
If you run a company that collects payments from your customers for good and services sold to them in person or online, you no doubt know that customers increasingly prefer not to carry much in cash. Instead the want to use credit and debit cards, and new smartphone technology makes it easy to accept payment via credit card, debit card, PayPal and Apple Pay so there is no wasted paper and payments can be conveniently processed in the same day.
Keeping customers satisfied is vital. Technology and innovation is often the greatest determinant of that satisfaction, and companies are learning that there are many ways to achieve happier, more loyal customers through the use of tools and strategies in the Digital Age.