OREANDA-NEWS. August 24, 2015. Social media for service is a growing trend, but is accompanied by two myths. First, lots of customers want to use social media as a primary service channel. Secondly, unless you are very careful, there is a high potential for social media disasters, such as the much-discussed United Breaks Guitars video. Neither of these myths are true IF your basic service channels work well and meet basic customer expectations. Extra expenses and disasters occur when companies skimp on the basics. Below are eight quick tips to assure you are doing the basics well. I’ll also give more tips during my two sessions on Tuesday and Thursday at Dreamforce.

What do customers want and expect from your service system?

The following are the findings of CCMC’s last decade of research, including six waves of the National Rage Study, research projectable on the US population done in conjunction with Arizona State University’s Center for Service Leadership.

Customers expect the following performance in terms of service system accessibility:

1.     Provide all basic answers on your website – I really don’t want to call for basic stuff

2.     Answer the phone in a reasonable period of time, usually 60 seconds — or have virtual queue

3.     Don’t confuse me with complex phone trees

4.     Respond to Chat requests within 60 seconds

5.     Respond to emails within 4 hours or at least tell me that you got it and when you will respond

6.     Respond to social media requests for help within 2 hours or at least tell me that you got it and when you will respond

When these basic standards are not met, customers go ballistic and go social. THEN you have the embarrassing explosion.

Ten tips for doing the basics well

1. Make finding answers on your website easy

80-90 percent of callers have first gone to the website to find the answer, especially millennials. If they find the answer via an effective search or use of the website map, they will not have to call.

o   Tip 1: Analyze your failed searches to identify where you are providing inadequate information on the website.

o   Tip 2: Make sure that the answers to your top ten phone calls are easily found on the website and the website map.

2. Making phone access simple

Answer the phone in a reasonable time period or use a “Virtual Queue.” Waits on the queue of more than 90 second breed significant dissatisfaction.

o   Tip 3:  In most environments, you can keep customers in queue for up to 60 seconds with no discernable degradation of satisfaction if you fully answer the issue when you finally answer.

o    Tip 4:  Virtual queue technology, where you tell the customer that the queue is 6 minutes and you’ll call them back in 6 minutes, almost completely dissipates the dissatisfaction from the wait.

o   Tip 5: DO NOT use a message that says, “ For faster service go to your website.” Almost all customers who are calling have been to the website and did not find what they wanted – such a message is a source of customer rage.

Simplify phone trees and IVRs – Customers are frustrated by complex phone trees using confusing terminology. Never have more than four selections in any level of a menu and always have the option to get to a human.

o   Tip 6: Reduce confusion and opt-outs by at least 20 percent by printing the menu wherever you print the 800-number.

Construct voicemail messages that do not cause frustration. Most voicemail messages say, “I’m out of the office and will be sporadically checking email and voicemail and will get back to you as soon as possible (ASAP).”  This message is actually a source of customer dissatisfaction because what does ASAP really mean? Is it later today, tomorrow or next week? “As soon as possible,” by being indeterminate, is very frustrating to the customer.

o   Tip 7:  Create a voicemail message that gives a time certain when you will be replying and an alternative if the customer needs faster service.  

3. Acknowledge all chat requests within 60 seconds and start answering within 90 seconds.

o   Tip 8: Millennials chat because they do not want to wait hours for an email response and don’t want to call. Offering chat means you commit to rapid engagement. Once you have established rapport, you can buy time to research the issue and respond but you must reconnect every 2-3 minutes. Think how long staring at a static screen for 120 seconds feels like.

4. Acknowledge and respond to all email in a timely manner and give a definite standard for final reply

While most companies have a 24 hour response standard for emails, over half of customers now expect a reply within 4 business hours, e.g. I email you this morning and expect a reply this afternoon.

o   Tip 9:  Create a message that says, “I’ll check and respond to messages every two days or every Friday. If you need faster service, reach Jack on extension 145.” This gives the customer control of the situation in that they can say, “OK, a Friday reply is acceptable,” or “That is way too long, I need to use an alternative channel.” 

5. Respond to social media requests within 2 hours , tell me when you will reply or take me offline

o   Tip 10: Customers will give you two shots at replying to an issue via multiple channels and satisfying them, e.g. an email, and then a call or tweet. If you blow those two chances, THEN they will go angry social and you will have an explosion.

About the Author

John Goodman is Vice Chairman of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, jgoodman@customercaremc.com, Twitter jgoodman888.  His new book, Customer Experience 3.0 was published in May of 2014.  AMACOM also published his first book, Strategic Customer Service

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