When you’re aiming for customer-centricity in your company, your primary focus should be to maintain, improve, and deliver an amazing customer experience. The first place to start is with customer communication. If you don’t optimize your communication methods, you can’t help your customers.
Optimizing your communication in each channel will eventually build the foundation for developing an omnichannel strategy. An omnichannel strategy takes all of your multichannel departments and links them together, so you can help your customer with more comprehensive support.
But with a solid omnichannel approach, how can you make sure that each of your channels is operating at peak efficiency? And what advice is most useful to your goal of better customer satisfaction and customer retention?
Here are the most common channels your customer support should be communicating through, along with a tip for each that will help you improve your customer communication. Following these tips will help you deliver a better customer experience by strengthening your omnichannel strategy and interconnecting all of your support channels.
When looking for improvements in your customer communication through email, there’s one solid rule you should follow: Keep your messaging clear and simple.
Your aim with email customer support is to help your customer with clear and concise messaging, and to do it quickly and effectively. According to a recent IKO System report, the highest response rates (at 19%) were emails with 200-250 words, medium-sized emails had a response rate of 13%, and short emails with fewer than 50 words had a surprisingly high result at 17%.
If you find your answer requires a longer explanation, ask the customer for permission to send another email, or link to resources on your site that can help.
Chatbots and virtual assistants
Chatbots are now solidly considered a standard customer channel of communication. Customers love the immediacy of chatbots and live chat. Thirty-seven percent of customers report using an online virtual agent or chatbot in the last 12 months, and nearly that many (32%) have used a chatbot on a smartphone.
The improvement in your chat channel should be centered around the speed at which your chat agent or chatbot can resolve a customer issue. A good practice to reduce your response time is to automate some customer service responses using prewritten scripts, or use chatbots to intercept tickets and gather details upfront for a live agent. This will help by providing details to an agent ahead of their interaction with the customer, cutting time on the call that would otherwise be used to research an issue.
But as chatbots and AI are still learning (and far from perfect), the experience transferring to a live agent must be flawless. Digital containment will never be 100%, and, at some point, the customer may need to speak to a human. But when this process is labor intensive and repetitive for the customer, your brand’s loyalty takes a dive.
Prime your chatbots with an embedded call scheduler (like Xfinity does in this example) to put customers in control, retain context from their conversation, and deliver a seamless transition into an efficient voice interaction.
With all of the advances in technology and modes of communication, phones are still an essential channel in customer support. More than half of consumers still use the phone to contact customer support.
Your priority improvement to enhance customer communication via phone should focus on first contact resolution (FCR). This helps to get the customer what they want as quickly as possible. According to VHT and the Service Quality Measurement Group, there is a 1% improvement in customer relationships for every 1% improvement in first call resolution.
How do you improve FCR?
Collect information up front and carry it over from digital channels to voice interactions. Allow customers to provide more information via SMS while they wait for their callback. And most importantly, don’t make them wait on hold! A frustrated customer will take at least 60 seconds on average to vent and complain at the top of the call.
Texts and notifications
According to a recent report from SimpleTexting.com, 60.8% of consumers want the ability to use SMS text with companies for support issues.
Communicating with the customer via text can be improved by using short, concise texts with positive messages—save conflict resolution issues for phone and email. Another improvement to help with communication is to allow agents to pin a conversation to themselves so they can make sure to have context of a customer’s issue if they ever text back again.
Also, using emojis in texts to show empathy and increase likeability with your customer is a good way to improve customer engagement. According to a data report by Intercom, messages that contained an emoji are 4x more likely to get responses than those that didn’t.
Also, strive for personalization when communicating with your customer base by text. Personalized messages (using the customer’s name, history, or other data) when sending a text are very effective in getting responses. Consumers are more than twice as likely to give personalized messages attention (as opposed to non-personalized), and 52% actually expect personalization.
One best practice for improvement is to take public conversations private. Sparring with your customer (even if they’re wrong) leaves a bad impression on the other customers in the channel. And respond to issues quickly—ReviewTrackers reports that 53% of consumers want an answer to their negative complaints within seven days.
But the best improvement? Make it easy to get in touch with your contact center.
Customers often go online to complain simply because they couldn’t find the answer they needed. And yet so many brands bury their phone number where no customer can find it.
When a customer posts about a poor experience, offer them a chance to schedule a callback online! It’s an immediate step for them to get in touch with someone without having to dial a phone number, wait on hold, and listen to frustrating hold music.
Use Mindful to improve your customer communication channels.
Customers want you to reach them in their preferred channel. They don’t want to be bounced around from agent to agent looking for answers, and they certainly do not want to be put on hold. Sixty-six percent of customers say those two factors are the most frustrating pain points in their experience with support.
Mindful will help you depreciate the high cost of call center processes by giving agents more background on customers, taking customers off hold and letting them schedule their complaints on their time, and even assist in transitioning resolution from chatbot to agent to text to follow up—all within one solution.
Mindful facilitates this by servicing the transition between chat and agent (and chat-to-text-to-agent as well). With Mindful, your processes are automated and ready to run almost immediately, helping you to reduce bottom-line costs in your call center by giving the chatbots more autonomy in handling customers.
Almost 90% of consumers use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company, and 92% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase from the company after a positive customer service experience. But in order to achieve that high level of customer service, communication in your customers’ preferred channel is key—86% of consumers think your company is responsible for maintaining and reaching out on all of your available channels.
Once you’ve gained insights into improving your multichannel customer support, you can move on to your next priority—omnichannel support. Linking all of those support channels together to help your customers’ journey will increase your customers’ satisfaction and lead to growth.