Did you know that almost every business has the same first customer? It’s a fact. Although few entrepreneurs realize it, their first customer is their first employee, and this truth alone should make business leaders look at both sides of the customer service coin: External and internal customer service.
And before I get into apps and strategies to keep both your internal and external customers relate with your devotion to serving them, I want to make one more important point: Not only are employees your first customers, they are, ultimately, your most important.
The customers who buy your products or engage your services will never be well satisfied if the people who produce and deliver your products or services are not themselves well satisfied. I say this to emphasize that among the tips I’m detailing here, those customers with an internal focus must be given the same consideration as the ones with an external focus.
Social media channels
Books and countless articles have been written on how to leverage social media for customer service, and I would bet that many of us have expressed our anger in tweets and on the Facebook pages of companies we do business with. Twitter has proved its value in this area, but it’s a good idea to separate your customer service Twitter account from your marketing account.
The boom in customer service via social media reflects how fundamental communicating through social media has become in our society. Virtually every demographic is talking to friends, family members, and companies through their social media channels. This also means that your employees are hooked on social media, so why not harness the trend rather than fight it?
At this point, who doesn’t know how to use the Facebook interface and tools? You can harness that shared knowledge and experience with Workplace by Facebook. There are two plans offered: free and paid. The free plan includes all the Facebook communication features (live video streaming, voice and video calls, and chat) and most of the service’s productivity features, including media and file storage, teams and groups, desktop notification, and secure collaboration between companies. Included in the paid plan are enterprise tools that include pre-built integrations, APIs for custom integrations and bots, and more administrative/monitoring tools.
Bringing social media into the core functions of your company—both internally and externally—will give your customer service a boost because it’s human nature to prefer working within systems and environments with which we are already familiar, and platforms like Facebook and Twitter supply that familiarity.
Dedicated help services come in a variety of forms today, and businesses can pick and choose the elements that work best for their products and services. Many of us are becoming increasingly familiar with and accustomed to using online chat and knowledge bases to get our questions answered. However, it’s critical that these tools are used properly, or they can create more customer angst than satisfaction.
A friend just related how he took the time to carefully detail his problem in one of those pop-up chat boxes, only to be greeted with the following message: Company X usually responds within three hours. And not too much better than that disquieting message is the chat feature that chat is “currently offline.” However, despite misapplications of this technology, external chat apps are being widely adopted today by all kinds of consumer and B2B brands.
Also worth considering is a “knowledge base,” which is like a turbocharged FAQ service and typically comes in three basic forms:
- Those created by the company,
- Those created by users, and
- Those that contain information from both the company and users.
Surveys show that younger users prefer to find answers to their problems on their own, so a knowledge base feature may be the first place they turn to when they’re looking for answers. If these younger users maintain that preference as they mature and you establish a solid knowledge base, you’re making a solid customer service investment in your future.
But let’s not overlook the internal customer service side of applications like these, and if you look at the areas where employees have the most urgent questions and problems, it’s usually related to tech. In fact, anyone who has worked for an SMB knows that dealing with tech support causes more catty remarks than any other single situation. Therefore, applying the lessons we’ve learned and the strategies we’ve developed for external customer service should also be applied internally.
For example, a cloud-based app like SysAid with its help desk software leverages the features and systems that today’s computer users are accustomed to using. These include much of what I’ve mentioned in the external customer service category, including chat and knowledge base technology.
Whenever you can put systems in place that allow members of your team to successfully troubleshoot their IT problems, it’s the classic win-win. Users hate having to make appointments with IT personnel, and it takes a burden off your tech support team at the same time. In other words, employee or “internal customer” satisfaction goes up on all fronts.
One common goal today is to create an organization that is “customer-centric” from top to bottom. It should be a core value of a company’s culture, and all the tools and strategies I’ve mentioned can and should be used to achieve that goal.
However, as customer service expert Shep Hyken points out, your company needs to be “employee-centric” before it can truly be customer-centric. With that thought in mind, I encourage you as you create your to-do list of customer service apps to deliver the highest levels of customer service to your employees: your internal customers. This strategy will provide the foundation for delivering world-class customer service to your “paying customers.”
This article was written by Megan Totka:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, which helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions, and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and also contributes to a number of publications on the web.
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