Your business can either thrive or barely survive based on your customer responsiveness in this fast-moving digital world.
How long does it take your team members to respond to a question from a customer or potential customer?
Simple answer: The longer it takes, the worse it is for your business.
Customer responsiveness is all about how quickly your business can respond to a query on any platform (social media, email and otherwise). On the flip side, it’s also about how quickly you can resolve an issue.
About 32 percent of customers expect a response from social media customer support within 30 minutes of reaching out, according to a survey, while 42 percent of consumers anticipate a response within 60 minutes.
Successful customer responsiveness leads to more sales and repeat customers who can ultimately become loyal brand ambassadors. Repeat customers are actually accountable for about 40 percent of an average business’s annual revenue. You definitely want your customers to come back.
The following are eight ways you can improve the customer responsiveness of your business.
Audit your current customer responsiveness
It’s important to assess the current state of your customer responsiveness and identify any areas in need of improvement.
You may want to test it yourself by sending an email from an anonymous account, asking an acquaintance to directly message on different social media platforms, etc.
The key is that you repeatedly test and document what is working to your expectations and what’s not.
You can’t fully improve or fix your customer responsiveness until you understand and identify the problems that need to be fixed.
Determine a customer response system
Every business is different, but it’s important to not only prioritize customer responsiveness but have a system for your team to address it.
For example, perhaps you know that most questions come through email, occasionally through your Facebook page inbox and very sparingly through your brand’s Twitter account (whether direct message or otherwise). You should then ensure that your team has time daily to respond to emails. For Facebook and Twitter, you confirm that your team receives notifications whenever there is a mention or message that needs to be addressed.
The more platforms your company is on (including Yelp and Google My Business), the more complex your customer responsiveness system may need to be. But it’s worth putting in the time and effort to think through what works best to achieve your improvement goals.
When it comes to emails specifically, it can be especially challenging when managing multiple coworking locations. CityCentral suggests the following to help your team manage emails more efficiently:
- Set up a designated email account for your team: Having a separate email account for the team ensures that all team members have access to important emails and can respond promptly.
- Establish email protocols: Clearly define how your team will handle different types of emails. Assign team members to certain requests/questions.
- Create an email schedule: Set specific times during the day to check and respond to emails. This can help team members stay focused on their work and avoid getting distracted by constant email notifications.
- Use email management tools: There are many tools available that can help you manage your emails more efficiently. For example, you can use filters to sort incoming messages and prioritize them based on urgency.
- Hold each other accountable: If you have noticed that an email has not been responded to in a set amount of time, reach out to the team member whom the email was addressed or assigned to ensure they saw it and will be responding soon.
Keep in mind that the regular updating and maintenance of your knowledge base is critical to best serving your customers and keeping your team members all on the same page.
Embrace social media
Social media isn’t just a place where customers and potential customers can send your business direct messages. It’s also a place where queries can come in various types, depending on the platform.
On Facebook, for instance, a user can send you a direct message, comment on your post, tag you in another post or comment thread and even just mention you while not tagging you at all. While privacy settings may restrict what you can respond to or even see, it’s worth paying attention. Otherwise, you’re likely to miss something.
Instagram, Twitter, YouTube—there are so many ways users could be engaging with you and asking you specific questions. For example, only 3 percent of Twitter users tag a brand to ask for help, while about 37 percent of tweets mentioning brands are customer-service related.
Of course, regular searches for your brand name (and common misspellings) on various platforms can help identify the posts where you’re not tagged.
We recommend using a social media management tool in order to pool the monitoring all into one place. Some businesses might also outsource social media in order to stay on top of all the dynamics.
Consider tech-based solutions
Customer responsiveness and service have long been considered a manpowered service, where you have to hire more and more employees to do it right as a business. But there are a number of technology-based solutions out there that could work for your brand.
These solutions can include chat software where automated responses handle the most common and basic customer questions. Find out more about chatbots.
Invest in a quality customer service team
Chatbots can’t do it all. It’s imperative to hire and invest in a responsive customer service team, even if that’s only one person.
No matter the size, you must have the right people with the right skills working for you and representing your brand. Regular training to continue to develop and improve those skills also is necessary.
- Knowledge, where a customer-service representative understands your products and/or services well enough to address the questions that pop up.
- Excellent communication, where a representative engages with any type of customer or potential customer in a positive, supportive way.
- Patience, where a representative does not get flustered or short with the customer or potential customer no matter what.
Explore CRM programs
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. In the simplest terms, a CRM program uses your data to build a relationship with your customers.
The right CRM program will help give you useful insights about your customers and their needs, as well as streamline customer service between different teams within your business (such as sales and customer service) so that your customer gets a consistent experience with your brand.
They’ll also often track pending and completed tasks by customer, so that you have an idea of what’s been done and what might still need to be done.
Get personal in your messaging
The further you can get from generic answers and messaging, the better. About 96 percent of marketers say that personalized messages and replies improve the brand-customer relationship.
To be more personal, use:
- The customer’s name
- A more informal, conversational and friendly tone
- The customer’s native language
Strive for 24/7 customer support
This can be especially challenging for small businesses, especially if the only employee is you. (There is such a thing as work-life balance that every business owner should embrace to some degree.)
Options to be more responsive 24/7 include outsourcing your customer service, providing an easy-to-find and easy-to-understand FAQ section on your website and/or using live chatbot features that can then kick up more complex questions to a human.
In fact, chatbots have come a long way. About 41 percent of customers now expect live chat on your website.
Dive deeper into conversational marketing and the value of engaging customers in real time.
Ultimately, customers want to feel important. Take the time to understand what your business is doing well and what can be improved to offer the best possible customer responsiveness. The more you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes, the better.