When was the last time you picked up the phone and called a company to get help? It’s probably been a while. Most companies today do everything they can to prevent you from calling them, making e-mail or “contact us” forms easier options. And let’s be honest, the idea of having to call a company, only to wait on hold and then ask a stranger for help, is not something most of us want to do on a regular basis. So to get help today, you end up having to press "send" and play the waiting game, having no idea exactly when you will get an answer to your question.
What a waste of time that can be...
Customer service as it was 15 years ago doesn’t really exist anymore. Today’s customer service isn’t as old-school as picking up the phone and dialing in (or even sending an email now). The search for easy, simple, and always-available is everywhere for today's online user.
Customers and companies want the same thing from customer service
Customers want an easy, quick, and delightful customer service experience, and so do companies. According to Maria Lebed, 80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer service, but in reality, only 8% of customers believe they’ve received outstanding service. There is a huge gap in customers’ expectations and what companies actually deliver.
One of the major problem areas that companies struggle with is also one of the most basic: knowing exactly what their customers' needs are. The principles of customer service have not changed in the last 15 years, but the needs of customers, particularly online customers, are dynamic. Their wants, needs, and expectations change over time, especially across generations. Millennials have the upper hand when it comes to technology because they have grown up with mobile phones in their pockets, iPads as ubiquitous as TVs, and laptops at home and school. Millennials are the technology leaders of the future and most importantly, leaders of the digital transformation that we are currently in.
According to a study done by Accenture in 2013:
48% of U.S. consumers use third-party online sources, such as official review sites;
25% of U.S. consumers read customer reviews and comments from social media sites.
Gone are the days where you have to deal with a customer service representative on the phone.
The same study also found that:
91% of people are frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason;
90% of people are frustrated for being put on hold for a long time;
89% of people are frustrated for having to repeat the same issue to multiple representatives.
With customer service available online, the pain of waiting on the phone is no longer an issue. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any pain points to online customer service. Far from it.
Key takeaway: For any business, particularly online businesses, your customer service principles may stay the same, but your customer success strategy needs to be as dynamic as the rapidly changing needs of your customers.
Customer service failures can have big online rippling effects
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said: “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.”
This is what happens when we live in a digital world. Social media connects each of us to billions of people around the world. From a customer service point of view, this can either do wonders for your PR or be detrimental to your business.
A perfect example of negative PR via social media is when United Airlines broke the guitar of Dave Carroll, a Canadian singer. He tried to save his guitar at his layover in Chicago by speaking with United flight attendants, but they blew him off. He tried to contact United’s corporate offices to file a claim, but he didn’t contact them within 24 hours so they couldn’t compensate him. Carroll had a terrible time working with United to rectify the situation. So, Carroll wrote a song and produced a music video about his experiences.
Check out the video if you haven’t seen it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo.
Within one day of uploading the video, Carroll received 150,000 YouTube views. Within four days, United Airlines stock prices fell 10%, costing shareholders $180 million.
As a result of this negative social publicity, the media gave United a lot of heat for their poor customer service. After many months and a few new songs by Carroll, United finally rectified the situation as best they could, but they lost loyal customers and have been working their way back up ever since.
Key takeaway: In today’s social media world, customer service failures can have significant impacts on your business that go much farther and wider than the few customers directly affected. Your business needs to be able to respond promptly to customer requests, particularly when a customer is having a problem.
Social media: your personal customer service tool
Social media acts as a digital concierge service for consumers. We want to check out a restaurant that we’ve never been to so we look online for other consumers’ reviews. We are trying to use an online platform and something just isn’t working so we Tweet asking for tips. Social media users these days expect quick responses.
According to the Accenture study:
53% of customers reaching out via social media expect a response within an hour;
32% of customers actually expect a response within half an hour.
What is most shocking is that:
57% expect the same response time on nights and weekends as they do for normal business hours.
So, where do we go from here if so many consumers are expecting live help during the times that we want to relax and take a break? Here is where a self-service support platform, like AnswerDash’s, would be extremely useful. No more wasting your precious hours on the weekends, or spending your valuable money on representatives to waste their weekends for you. AnswerDash enables your website visitors to get answers under their own steam in a self-sufficient fashion.
Key takeaway: Customer service expectations are nothing like they used to be. The new age of digital transformation and social media as a digital concierge service takes the pressure off live phone call support and places greater focus on the speed and reliance of technology. Is your business ready for the upgrade?