Consumer expectations about the customer experience (CX), including customer service interactions, have never been higher. That trend is driven largely by another experience: the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers grew accustomed to brands stepping up their game to deliver exceptional, highly personalized, and frictionless experiences across digital channels during a time when the primary (and often only) way to engage with customers was via the internet, apps, and phones.
But apparently, those efforts haven’t been good enough for many consumers. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) research shows that consumer satisfaction has declined precipitously since 2019. In fact, customer satisfaction in 2022 is at its lowest level since 2005!
Customers can be … well … tough. And businesses only have a limited opportunity to make a great impression. In a 2018 PwC survey of 15,000 consumers worldwide, 32% of respondents said they’d stop doing business with a brand they love after only one bad experience. Fast-forward to 2022, and research from Invoca found that more than three-quarters (76%) of consumers are prepared to stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience. Yikes.
On the flip side, our research also shows that 63% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service to get better customer service. And in a global study from Microsoft, 96% of consumers across age groups said customer service played a role in their choice of and loyalty to a brand.
So, it’s well worth it for your business to redouble its efforts to deliver an outstanding CX in the year ahead. Customer service is a great place to focus that investment because it provides countless opportunities for your business to exceed customers’ expectations. With that in mind, here are 15 quick customer service tips for enhancing your customer service operations in 2023:
It can be challenging, and generally ineffective, to try to link revenue growth or other financial metrics to customer service response and interactions. However, some useful metrics to gauge the effectiveness and bottom-line impacts of your customer service function include:
To pinpoint where and how your customer service experience is flying high, or falling short, you can use metrics like the number of complaints, escalation rate, average wait time, and call abandonment rates to measure how many complaints your customer service personnel are handling each day, how long customers are waiting for a response (or who give up on waiting), and how many are being passed along to other departments for resolution.
Whatever KPIs you choose, make sure they align with the human experience you want to provide to your customers. Key metrics like customer satisfaction, net promoter score, and contact quality can help ensure you keep the human experience in focus, and not just costs, as you measure contact center performance. (Learn more about the purpose and value of these and other contact center metrics here.)
Customer service reps can’t be expected to deliver efficient or personalized service if they go into every call with limited details about who they are talking to and why.
Fortunately, there are plenty of powerful tools and technology integrations available to give your agents the context they need — from purchase history to previous help requests — so they can be more effective at helping customers who reach out by phone, via chat, or other channels.
Also, by using technology to automate tasks and streamline workflows for customer service, agents will have more time to focus on engaging in meaningful interactions with customers — and by extension, helping your business get to know them better.
Asking your customers to provide feedback after a customer service experience is a valuable strategy for tracking the performance of your customer service team. But you have to make the process easy, and quick, or you’re not likely to get a response.
Keep customer satisfaction survey questions short and simple. Open-ended questions like, “How can we do better?” might prove too broad, and busy people are likely to skip over them. Instead, try using yes-or-no questions like, “Did the customer service agent make you feel like a valued customer?” or “Was your issue resolved quickly?”
Also, if the customer agrees to complete a survey, make sure to send it promptly, while their customer service experience is still fresh in their mind.
Active listening — which involves listening attentively to the speaker, analyzing what’s being said, determining intent, and responding thoughtfully, including with follow-up questions — is a must for your customer service personnel. When agents apply active listening techniques, they can build a rapport with customers, infuse empathy into the conversation, and most of all, keeps the focus squarely on the customer so they feel heard, understood, and valued. Agents can also deliver more efficient service.
Developing this vital skill will likely require some training or coaching, including reviewing call recordings and transcripts to identify where agents are excelling at active listening, and where they can improve. (Here again, technology can help empower customer service teams to deliver their best performance.)
A customer typically calls customer service because they have a problem or are frustrated with a product or service. They are unhappy. And it’s important for your customer service team to acknowledge those feelings and express their understanding, even if they can’t fix the issue right then and there.
Active listening helps here (see Tip #4), as does empathy itself. Encourage agents to see things from the customer’s perspective — even if that person is initially irate or rude. Using positive language can help dial down a customer’s temperature and put the agent in control of the conversation.
Here’s an example: Instead of telling an angry customer to “Please calm down,” the agent could respond with, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. I am glad I have an opportunity to help you solve this issue.”
If your business makes a mistake, own it. For example, if a customer reports they received the wrong product, the customer service agency should be quick to apologize on behalf of the company and explain how the business will work with the customer to make it right.
Of course, your business will still need to verify whether you did indeed make a mistake, but it’s best to assume from the outset that the customer is raising a flag about a legitimate problem.
Customer service work can be emotionally and physically taxing at times. Agents often feel stressed — a side effect of having to absorb a lot of negative energy throughout the day. Monotonous work can get them down, as can challenging shift hours.
Take the pulse of your customer service reps regularly to make sure they’re feeling supported and appreciated. You can do that by checking in with them one-to-one or conducting anonymous surveys. Also, be sure to:
Much of the advice in Tip #7 applies here as well. Treating your team members well by investing in them and providing timely feedback and rewards goes a long way toward creating a positive organizational culture. But you also need to encourage your agents to keep raising the bar on their performance. Much of that will come down to leadership being clear about what “excellence” looks like, and then demonstrating it through their own actions.
In a recent CX survey, 54% of U.S. respondents said they expect all experiences with a company — including customer service — to be personalized.
One way to help agents deliver a personalized approach to each customer conversation is by giving them access to real-time screen pops that reveal caller details, including intent, based on the calling webpage, pre-call search keywords, and more. The result? Your customers feel like they’re getting VIP treatment.
What business today doesn’t need a best-in-class technology stack to support their critical business functions? And, as we’ve established, customer service is a critical function today.
Adobe Experience Manager, HubSpot, and Salesforce Sales Cloud are just three examples of the many CX solutions out there that can help customer service teams take their vital work to the next level — in turn helping your customers feel satisfied, and your business look good. Most leading solutions integrate with other tools, like Invoca’s conversation intelligence platform, that help improve the customer service experience and enhance the level of customer care the company provides.
This message was delivered in Tip 9, but it’s worth repeating: If you want your customers to feel like VIPs when they contact your customer service center, then you need to equip your agents with the tools to provide a rapid, efficient, and personalized response.
Invoca’s intelligent call routing makes this quick and seamless. The solution connects the caller to the right place every time, even across multiple call centers or local branches.
As noted earlier (way back in Tip #2!), your customer service agents need insight into why a customer is calling if they’re going to be successful at delivering a standout experience. In short, they need context.
Invoca provides that context. The solution uses website tags to capture privacy-friendly online data points and provides unique phone numbers to customers who are online and active on your site. So, that means intent data — such as what the customer has purchased from you — can be automatically passed to the agent designated to receive a customer’s call.
Here’s an example of intent data in action: Say that a customer wants to cancel a service. They are on your website page for “cancel my service.” They make a call to the number displayed in the header. With Invoca, you can use the website page they placed the call from to dynamically route this caller directly to a retention specialist on your customer service team who is able to prevent the customer from churning.
If you want your customer service team to deliver top-notch customer care and support, you’ll need to provide details on what they’re doing right, and where they need to improve. However, manually scoring calls to get that information is a drag, and there’s just no way you can evaluate every inbound call.
Fortunately, automated quality assurance can do all that heavy work for you. Using AI and automation, Invoca’s QA solution provides access to customer service call recordings, transcripts, and call scores immediately upon completion of calls — delivering real-time analytics that will allow you to coach your team on specific issues while they’re still fresh.
Invoca’s call tracking software can provide visibility into where on your website CX calls are coming from, so you can correct issues quickly. Perhaps a page has the wrong price listed for a product, or an image of a product won’t load. Or maybe a “Buy Now” button isn’t working. Fix those issues fast, so your customer service team doesn’t have to field calls about them, which gives them more time to focus on solving bigger problems for customers.
Phone calls are an especially important part of the customer experience, and 68% of people say it’s their favorite way to interact with businesses. That’s a good thing for your company, because phone interactions let you hear the voice of the customer (i.e., what people are saying about your business) loud and clear — provided you have the right tools for listening.
You can use Invoca solutions for CX to capture voice of the customer (VoC) insights from customer service calls. With Invoca’s Signal AI, for example, you can use AI to automatically detect certain words or phrases that you’ve deemed important to track. And to detect new customer issues and trends, you can use Invoca’s Signal Discovery. This feature uses unsupervised machine learning to discover macro and micro trends unfolding in your customers’ phone conversations with your customer service team.
Also, because Invoca provides access to call recordings and transcripts — and the analytics to go along with them — you can identify patterns of common customer experience issues, so your customer service team will be better prepared to address them head-on in 2023, and beyond.
Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you create better digital-to-call experiences for your customers? Check out these resources: