From answering customer queries, arranging appointments and demonstrations to aftersales, interaction with your customers is a key part of any business – and the variety of ways to do so has never been greater.
Offering your clients the best customer journey won’t just give you a glow, it can also prove to be a lucrative business decision, with recent studies showing that 86% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience.
Faced with so much choice, how do you decide the best tactics for your business?
It’s a fine balance between providing the level of service that modern day buyers have come to expect and making sure you can deliver on your promises. Modern customers have very high expectations and to be truly successful, your strategy must remain customer-centric which means being wholly available where and when they want to engage.
As you came to this blog today you will no doubt have noticed the smiling faces of r//evolution’s Director Adam and our Partner Growth Manager Steve pop up, inviting you to ask our team a question - just one of the many ways we encourage people to get in touch.
While it can be tempting to give customers as many options as possible, it’s not always practical or indeed necessary. Spending time thinking about the questions outlined below will help you to determine the right contact methods for your business, allowing you to work smarter and deliver a great service.
The important thing is to make sure that your decisions are sustainable and not based on assumptions but rather based on a detailed understanding of your customers’ expectations.
Who are my customers?
A great starting point for determining the best contact methods for your business is to go back to your buyer personas and use this as a foundation for interaction.
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated and therefore it’s vital to be in-tune with your audience’s needs and requirements.
The more you understand about your target customers the more you can make informed decisions such as which social media channels they most interact with, if they have time for live chat and phone calls or prefer email. If you are both UK-based but they deal mostly with international clients, they may wish to add you to their Skype contacts, or perhaps being able to get in touch ‘out of hours’, via text message or Facebook Messenger is important to them.
You’ll find that your buyer personas will each have different expectations and preferences and you’ll need to accommodate multiple approaches.
What are the capabilities and limitations?
Being able to offer a variety of contact options is one thing but being able to interact with them all is quite another. Most growing SMEs, and even larger corporations, have a finite resource for customer interactions, both sales and service driven. Findings from a recent report into the ‘state of the connected customer’ have found that 64% of consumers, and a whopping 80% of business buyers, expect interaction in real-time.
With this in mind, before you set up a new communication channel, think about how easily you will be able to respond to queries that come through it. You can do more damage by mis-managing a communication channel than by not providing it as an option. Remember it’s critical that once you set an expectation that you deliver on it consistently.
It is also important to think about the limitation of the various services; for instance, if you want customers to be able to interact quickly but frequently have to send PDFs or other documents to help address customer needs, do you need to make it clear that any messages through Facebook Messenger will likely require an email address for additional information? Can you offer to contact customers via phone when further data is required that is too sensitive for live chat?
Who is interacting?
Customers will have a wide range of requests, expectations, demands and questions regardless of the contact method that they have chosen to use. This can create challenges in managing business representatives who are engaging with customers across these platforms. Your customers will expect all of their queries to be handled efficiently and accurately on any and all of their chosen platforms.
Due to this variety, it is important to have robust internal processes in place, ensuring trained people within the business are able to address questions appropriately and responses are documented to ensure efficiency is maintained as the scale increases.
To find out more about the best contact methods for your business, or to discuss how to increase your client interaction, contact our team today or download our scaling up eBook.