Give Your Customers What They Want, When They Want It
We're living in an age when I can order a smoothie in my living room with the press of a button, and it's delivered in 15 minutes. This is what your customers expect from you. They are looking for choices. They want the ability to interact with you when and how they choose.
Convenience and choice are key in the digital age. Take a look at the options currently available to your customers. Can your customers book appointments online or by text? Can they order groceries through their smart speakers to be delivered to their doorsteps?
Your customers expect online convenience from brick-and-mortar retailers. Is your business ready to meet their needs?
1) Be available
Just like I wanted that smoothie when I wanted it, your customers want you, or someone representing your business, available to them 24/7. They want information and customer service on demand. They want someone on the other end, whether it's through social media, review sites, chatbots, or your own website. It doesn't matter what platform you're using -- as long as they're interacting with you.
But really, these online customers just want the same thing customers in your brick-and-mortar store want. They want to know they're being heard.
This can be an enormous task, but finding solutions doesn't have to be out of reach for smaller businesses. As the price of technology comes down, some businesses are implementing AI chatbots on their websites, or hiring a customer service partner for 24/7 coverage. They're creating apps with automated services and reminder notices, anything they can do to make the buying process easy for customers, and to let customers feel you are always there for them.
2) Combine service and convenience
Even though the digital age can make it seem like customer service is losing the personal touch, that's not the case at all. Yes, new technologies and trends are sweeping the customer service scene, but the basics remain the same. Tried-and-true methods are valid, no matter how your customers choose to reach you. Getting on board with digital trends is just another way to put great customer service to work by listening to your customers and delivering what they want.
I like to think of customer service as an omni-channel approach. Being able to order food from your phone doesn't mean you won't go out to a restaurant again. You want to go to a restaurant and receive great service, but you also want the ability to make a reservation or view the menu online.
Combining digital convenience and in-store customer service gives customers the best of both worlds. When people go to a retail store, they still want to speak with someone who looks presentable, greets them politely, and makes eye contact. Make the in-store experience as pleasant and convenient as the online experience, and make the online experience as friendly as the in-store experience. That's the way you win customers for life.
3) Be proactive
Waiting too long to respond to customer service trends is one of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make. They continue business as usual until they see a negative impact, and then they make a change. But by then it's too late.
Great customer service means anticipating your customers' desires, knowing your customer and providing what they want before they ask for it. Stay on top of trends and what's going to affect your industry. This can be difficult for businesses to do, but it's money and time well spent. You don't have to be the first, but you definitely don't want to be the last.
4) Make it easy
The goal of any customer service strategy should be to make it easy and pleasant for customers to work with you. In this age of digital convenience, it's easier than ever for customers to go somewhere else, so give them a reason to stay.
But most of all, know your customers. Know your industry. Expand your offerings, both in products and services, to meet and exceed customer expectations, and be willing to change with the times. If you're doing nothing, you won't evolve. Taking action to give your customers the choices they want will help your business grow and thrive.
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