There are a number of reasons a consumer will choose one of your competitors over you:
Better, more reliable website
More professional-looking marketing materials
Higher quality products
More reliable service
Shared values or vision
Clearer and more consistent branding
More timely and trustworthy customer service
Did you catch the specifics of that last one? Customers not only choose companies with excellent customer service, but they also choose companies with fast customer service.
According to research by MarketSplash, which creates guides on entrepreneurship, digital marketing, design, and ecommerce, 50% of consumers will purchase from the company that’s quickest to respond to them.
In other words, if you snooze, you lose.
So how can you improve your customer service response time? How can you answer questions quicker? You have a few options:
1. Staff adequately. Budgets are tight, but if you’re not investing in the people who have direct contact with customers, clients, subscribers, and donors, then you’re not prioritizing your customer relationships. People don’t like being put on hold for 20 minutes, waiting to have their problems resolved. They’ll simply look elsewhere and take their wallets with them.
2. Train adequately. What’s worse than finally getting to talk to a real, live person? Being put on hold again while the customer service rep seeks answers from someone else. Regularly train your customer service reps on new and upcoming promotions, products, services, and issues. Then, empower them to solve common problems.
3. Automate. Staffing customer service representatives 24/7 isn’t feasible for most companies. Unfortunately, 43% of customers try to contact customers after hours. While you may not be able to give a thoughtful, real-time response until folks are back in the office, you can acknowledge your customers’ inquiries and provide an estimated response time with automated e-mail and text messages. Getting requests and questions by phone? Include your office hours and the estimated response time in your recording so callers know what to expect.
4. Encourage self-help. Do customers tend to ask the same questions? Are particular issues or problems recurring? Address them in your FAQs. Be as specific as you can and make your FAQs—or whatever you call it—easy to find and access on your website. Be sure to tout it prominently on your website, reference it in your marketing materials, and address it in your recorded telephone messages.
While these solutions won’t solve every problem—there’s always that one, random question that catches you off-guard—but they will improve the speed in which you solve problems for customers, and they will let your customers know that you have their best interests in mind.