It’s no secret that outstanding customer support is, and will always be, important for both consumers and any company out there. In a fast-paced and customer-centric environment, though, the rules for proper customer service are bound to continue changing.
How to make sure your business keeps up with these changes, and leverages proper customer service tactics on top of that?
To answer the question, we’ve asked experts to share their insights on the best tactics to boost customer service in 2021. Here they come.
Best customer service tactics to use in 2021
1. Be proactive about customer support.
Modern customers expect outstanding support – and unfortunately, they will rarely praise your customer service reps for offering it. On the other hand, when something goes wrong, unsatisfied customers are very likely to tell other people about it. Since it can take up to 12 positive reviews for a potential customer to ignore only 1 negative review, it might be a good idea to proactively look for negative opinions – on social media, for example.
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 96% of dissatisfied customers won’t complain, but will talk about their negative experience with their friends. This means that consumers may also disclose their negative experience on the web, through social media or other means. You as a business need to stay vigilant of online mentions and your brand perception- keep track of them with dedicated software. This will make it easier for you to address any possible shortcomings and improve the customer experience for the future.Kinga Edwards, Brainy Bees
2. Think twice before you implement chatbots.
A chatbot is a piece of software that runs automated tasks, stimulating an actual conversation with a human being. When it comes to customer support chatbots, in particular, they usually use pre-determined answers triggered by certain keywords to respond to basic customer questions via a live chat. As a result, chatbots are perfectly capable of providing real-time, on-demand support to your customers. What’s not to like?
Providing real-time, 24/7 customer support with self-help tools can definitely help with boosting customer service. Setting up a tool relieves human agents of routine, repetitive, and common requests, so they could work on more complex projects.Wojciech Jasnos, RocketLink
On top of that, the right tool ensures that a business is always available, which is something that customers surely appreciate. Businesses seem to love chatbots, too, as their adoption has been growing strongly recently. It makes perfect sense to me, too, as I think that customer support automation is not a buzzword but a real need to meet customers where they are and when they need.
If you’re looking to improve customer service, look no further than two of the most significant service trends of the year—artificial intelligence and hyper-convenience. Early research shows that both the AI and the Convenience Revolution are inextricably linked, and companies that want to provide top-tier customer support recognize this.Maciej Biegajewski, Marketing Manager LiveWebinar
This tech tandem fuels self-service in the form of IVRs and chatbots interacting with the customer but will empower the support agent more. If the agent knows how to use the “machine” effectively, it can provide the rep with the right answer for the customer. What’s more, AI can also give the agent applicable data about the customer’s purchase history, past support calls and buying behaviors, delivering unlimited convenience.
This year, more brands will discover ways to create a smoother CX and this is excellent news for customers!
Not everyone seems to be sharing the “chatbot enthusiasm”, though. And rightly so – even the most advanced AI-powered solutions won’t be able to make things right like an experienced support agent can via live chat or over the phone, especially since your customers also expect a certain level of personalisation (not a cold email) on top of getting an instant answer.
My top tactic for boosting customer service in 2021 is getting rid of chatbots. Others love them, but I think that they’re a complete waste of time. The problem that most business owners don’t see is that customers come from different backgrounds and they will have different questions. All of them are in different stages of the sales cycle. Solving all of their needs with a single chatbot and a script is just a poor solution.Adam Hempenstall, CEO and Founder at Better Proposals
Instead, hire dedicated customer support reps that have deep expertise about your product. They can do much more within 5 minutes than a single chatbot can do in days. While chatbots are a solution if you want 24/7 coverage, it’s now possible to hire customer support reps from all over the world to cover a variety of different time zones. In the end, communication is often the factor that makes the difference between a bounce and someone who becomes a paid user.
What should you do, then? Don’t be afraid to leverage chatbots in order to simplify and automate responses to less demanding customer queries, but, at the same time, don’t just give up on your customer support agents. Your team should always be responsible for handling more complex conversations, especially when the customer is upset or confused. And, speaking of…
3. Make your responses “personal”.
In the age where seemingly everything is automated, many consumers appreciate a personal touch. A prompt response to queries can keep a potential customer interested, but a personal response can help you convert curiosity into sales.
Whether you hire a dedicated customer service representative or do things yourself, never leave a customer waiting. Answer questions before they disengage. Express a genuine desire to address their concerns.Natalie Luneva, SaaS growth consultant
If high volume causes time constraints, automated responses may become necessary. Make them feel as human as possible. However, it’s best to keep human interactions human, building lasting trust with our clients and customers.
The ability to get personal and tailor the offered support to your customers also requires knowing them in the first place. To start with, 72% of consumers say that when contacting customer service, they expect the agent to “know who they are, what they have purchased and have insights into their previous engagements.” Let’s face it, though: when running any business, you should always strive to be at least somewhat familiar with who your customers are. Offering an omnichannel customer support will help you with that. Your agents should be able to access information about the previous interactions with a customer, making sure they will get a seamless experience, no matter which channel they choose to contact you through.
How to improve our customer experience (CX)? Understand who your customers are, what their needs are, how you address these needs, and what you can do better going forward. To do so, you should conduct research that helps define some similar characteristics, specifically which business sectors they’re coming from predominantly.Michal Kulis, SMSAPI
Based on this information you can begin to gather feedback from customers related to our product, and how it specifically helped businesses in their sector. With this information, we were able to tailor and differentiate our customer service approach towards customers in these sectors.
One concrete step we took was to bring on talent with experience in each of these sectors who better understood businesses’ needs. These colleagues helped us to better understand the type of support such customers need. By creating a customized approach to each of these business types we’ve received highly positive feedback, especially when compared to our previous one size fits all approach.
4. Listen to customer feedback.
There’s no better way to get to know your customers than to actually listen to them. As a matter of fact, brands are viewed more favourably by 77% of consumers if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. In fact, many customers seem to think that companies should take action on the feedback they are provided – and yet, not many businesses are willing to do so. LiveAgent enables you to gather customer feedback through a feedback & suggestions forum.
Customer feedback is an essential aspect of every business as it helps companies understand their customers. In 2021, listening to your customers will be more critical than ever to make sure you’re providing outstanding customer service. Because only if you know what your customers expect, you can meet these expectations.Martina Balazova, Kontentino
Some useful methods of gathering feedback from customers are:
– Owned Facebook groups where customers (and prospects) can swap ideas, enjoy valuable content and provide feedback on product updates and product documentation,
– In-app polls and surveys are great ways for software startups to gather customer feedback as they are quick and straightforward,
– Monitoring on-site (and in-app) activities is another option to understand what your website visitors prefer (make sure you’re able to segment your customers),
– Asking for quick feedback based on your customers’ behaviour via live chat or email is another excellent method to learn more about your customers’ expectations and opinions.
Keep in mind that any feedback, whether negative or positive, helps you improve your customer experience.
The thing is to systematically respond to your customers’ suggestions/comments about your software. In this way, you systematically add the functionalities requested by your customers if the demand has been expressed on a recurring basis. If a feature releases cannot be added, your customers receive personalized support in order to solve their problem alternatively.Shankar Shethe, Growth Mentor
5. Consider having a distributed team on board.
Gone are the days when customer support was offered during strict business hours, with customer service reps sitting side by side in an office. With both customer expectations and remote work being on the rise, many support teams end up being distributed. And it doesn’t have to be a bad thing – quite the contrary.
To boost customer service in 2021, I recommend building a distributed team that is spread across different locations. Especially since building and managing a distributed team has become easier than ever given the adoption of inexpensive collaboration & productivity tools and increased desire for workplace flexibility.David Cacik, CloudTalk
Why so? A distributed team has many benefits. I believe the most valuable of them all is the ability to tap into a global pool of talent. This, in turn, helps you offer multilingual support to an international customer base, 24/7/365 delivery of customer support through staggered coverage across time zones, and often lower headcount costs on top of that.
Talented, motivated, and high performing customer support professionals will no longer be limited to the confines of traditional office spaces. The technology that enables effective collaboration and service delivery is here, and has been for a while. It’s no longer just about the “digital nomad” lifestyle. Companies themselves are realizing the cost, retention, and productivity advantages of a workforce that has no geographical barriers in terms of available talent.Jaime Ricasata, Head of Customer Success at CandyBar
6. Make good use of the available technology.
While on the subject of productivity & collaboration tools – dedicated customer support software can definitely help every CS team, not only a distributed one, as much as video marketing tools or online marketing resources can help your social media department. And there’s much more to technology than that. Actually, with tech tools (such as easy to use email builder) becoming increasingly more advanced, it might be high time to start making good use of them.
In an era of being absolutely surrounded, almost covered with so many tools for customer support, it’s basically a sin not to use one. Such tools can automate so many tasks and keep your agents happier and more motivated on top of that, since having quick access to customer data can save them a lot of hassle.Julien Roy, Sparkbay
My set of tactics for boosting customer service in 2021 would definitely include the use of dedicated tools: testing out what solutions work and which ones just do not cut it for your needs, but also using turnover prediction software for the sake of productivity in your team.
Of course, tools do not solve customer service problems but can support dealing with them and minimize their impact in the long run.
I believe that one of the most important things right now when it comes to customer service is scaling your processes so that you can scale your time, without lowering your quality. This means that—like with other similar activities—customer service has to be scalable in a way that maintains the quality of the service and at the same time allows the customer support team to be more efficient and productive.Matt Kukucka, Head of Marketing at Post Affiliate Pro
One of the best ways to do that is through the use of technology, especially AI (e.g., sentiment analysis, auto-tagging and topic classification). Companies can train their own models and thus understand their customers better. Then, they can use those tags, topics or lists to build systems that will allow them to scale their time, while serving their customers properly. For example, they can create content based on the topics that interest their customers or based on common problems their customers face, create automated webinars or topic-specific FAQ pages.
Find out what customer service tactics work best for you
As per usual, there’s no single best recipe for success that can work wonders for every support team. It’s important to listen to the expert advice, but still keep the specificity of your business in mind when applying the tips in practice.
About the Author
Kinga Edwards – Creative Owner at Brainy Bees & City Leader at SaaStock. Passionate about content marketing and out-of-the-box PR, looking for insights everywhere and all the time.