Mahatma Gandhi once remarked, “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so”.
This quote captures the essence of customer service aptly.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the support extended to customers before and after they buy your product and/or use your services. Customer service holds prime importance if you want to both retain your customers and grow your business.
With the rising competition, customer service strives to go beyond just providing answers; it is about creating an overall fulfilling experience for your customer and keeping the promise you make to them as a brand.
Today, customer service has extended itself beyond the walls of traditional telephone support and is not about being available 24×7 via email, web, text messages, and social media. In fact, ‘self-service support’ is the new hip thing.
Customer service and the tech industry
Every industry is always driven by a customer base that is passionate about everything that industry has to offer. The tech industry is all about what is new and cool in the tech world–be it new gadgets or new technology.
Being a customer-oriented industry, customer service holds prime importance. Companies in the tech industry cannot afford grumbled customers who have been made to hold their calls for over an hour without any solution. Fast and to the point solution (via any) medium is the answer. After all, the tech industry is the only industry that is driven equally by customer service and competitive prices.
Customer service has evolved from phone calls to customer care representatives. Today, as a part of customer service, tech companies are relying on online forums, detailed & self-sufficient FAQ pages, and automated chatbots. Customers more than often find what they are looking for via these platforms.
In the words of Bill Gates, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Recent surveys prove that 30% of consumers say not being able to reach a real human is the most frustrating part of a bad customer service experience. On the contrary, 77% of consumers report having used a self-service support portal.
So, it is safe to concur that the efficiency of the whole experience lies in how well it is executed and merged with the mission and vision of the whole business. At the end of the day, customer experience and satisfaction dictate the success of your business.
Mentioned below are some tried and tested customer service mantras to master the art of customer service in the tech industry.
1. Keep the customer’s information secure
Tech companies are expected to be on their toes while handling the personal data of the customer. Online engagement leaves a large amount of sensitive data that can be misused without the proper safeguards. Mismanagement of sensitive customer data will lose you customers, reputation, and can even put you out of business. Make sure your website has an SSL certificate to ensure the integrity of the data.
2. Hone your customer service skills
Having a great customer service team with the right skills can make all the difference.
- Empathy, patience, consistency, and adaptability – Every customer is different, therefore, the approach to handle each one of them should also be different. Remember, good customer service is a continuous learning process.
- Knowledge – Customers rely on you for the knowledge of the product. The tech industry is dynamic and it is important to be informed enough to respond to most inquiries. Know where to turn if the questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and connect the customer further to the concerned person.
3. Improve your customer interaction skills
In the words of Stephen R. Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. Here is where customer interaction skills become important. Some tips to ensure that customer service is well received:
- Practice active listening – Always clarify and rephrase the customers’ inquiries to ensure you understood them. Be genuine in your concern and tone.
- Follow-up after a problem is solved – Sending an e-mail or a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re on their side. Feedback helps you identify your weak customer service spots.
4. Make it easy for them to reach you
One of the most important aspects of building a brand is making sure you clearly communicate the various ways in which a customer can reach out to you. One way to do this is to create a custom domain name that directs people to your ‘Contact Us’ page. Advertise this domain name in all your communication such as email, chat, social media messaging, etc to reinforce.
Another way to ensure that your users remember the domain name is make it relevant. Instead of using a generic link, go with something along the lines of business.tech/contact. Here are a few benefits of this domain name:
- It is keyword rich making it relevant and meaningful
- It communicates what page it leads to
- It is memorable
- It introduces new prospects to your business and by using a new domain extension such as .TECH, it also communicates what industry you belong to.
5. Implement a full-proof customer service strategy
Customer interaction skills coupled with a great customer service strategy can work wonders. Here’s how to achieve it.
- Personalization – Always address the customer by their name to give the whole experience a personalized touch. This makes you and your company look more approachable and the customers feel that they have access to real people and not bots to solve all their technical queries related to their products.
- Be available 24/7 – Fast and immediate response is the best way to provide a great customer service experience. Have a dedicated customer support team or department that works 24/7 – especially if you have a large customer base. If you do not do it, somebody else will do it.
- Cater to their needs – Make sure you are meeting your customers’ technical needs fully. Consider assigning reps to a certain group of identified customers so they can build a relationship.
6. Offer Omnichannel support
Based on 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report by Microsoft, 66% of consumers have used at least 3 different communication channels to contact customer service. In the tech age, having just one or two channels of communication isn’t enough. Customer service needs to spread its roots to cover all the potential channels like email, phone, live chat, social media support and where required, even an in-person visit/interaction. According to Incite Group, over 50% of companies report their most critical customer experience issue as being “providing a seamless experience across multiple channels”.
7. Respond on social media
One of the main reasons why customers reach voluntarily out to you on social media is to get a quick response. 80% of customers expect companies to respond to their social media posts within 24 hours. In fact both in the United States and worldwide, 18% of customers expect a response from a company’s social media within one hour.
Faster response rates boost customer satisfaction and have the potential to increase customer advocacy and revenue.
8. Provide self-help options
Tech-savvy customers prefer helping themselves than having to go through the whole customer support process. Recent statistics show that 77% of consumers report having used a self-service support portal and only 12% could not find the information in the self- service portal.
Self-help features work best with an FAQ section. Make sure to answer the most common queries or complaints in the form of detailed articles or step-by-step tutorials.
Chatbot, another technological advancement is picking up and 30% of US consumers rate chatbot interactions as “very effective” in dealing with customer service issues. Used diligently, chatbots can reduce customer service costs drastically and improve the overall customer service experience.
9. Personalize auto-replies
Auto-replies are a great way to ensure your customers in real-time that their query has been received. However, make the classic “We received your support request” a little more engaging and interesting by adding something like “Hi XXX, thanks for getting in touch. We will take care of it.” Software these days allows you to use your customer’s first name in the automated replies.
However, make sure that your employees follow up with the customer before the deadline promised by the auto-reply to solve those critical technical issues. The trick here is to use the software to ‘under-promise’, and have a human employee ‘over-deliver’.
Customer Service in Tech: In conclusion
Remember, it is always best to keep everything simple and as transparent as possible when crafting a customer service strategy for a tech company. Automation and human touch should act as co-dependent functions. FAQ pages and online forums should be exhaustive, and capable of answering most of the queries. Aptly put in the words of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”