Online Customer Service & Support- The Short, How-To Marketing Guide
Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Within our first few blog posts, there has been a common theme of consumer-user orientation and CX when considering successful online marketing and IMCs. A substantial aspect of effective consumer-experience that we have yet to discuss, is that of online customer service and online support. Within this blog post, we will examine online customer service within the digital marketing ecosystem, and offer the best arsenal for succeeding on the online support battlefield.
Previously, we have stated consumers will pay for a better experience, but to begin, below we have highlighted the specific importance of a cohesively structured customer service model to consumers, and therefore overall marketing brand experience itself. Today, 97% of global consumers state customer service is essential to their choice of, and loyalty to, a given brand.
Strikingly, 82% of consumers have halted business activity with a brand because of negative customer service experiences, and 51% of customers will never do business with that company again, following just one negative experience with them.
The cost of this negative impact on profit margins is blatantly significant. According to research, U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion every year due to poor customer service operations. There is also further impact on the consumer-side, where people will tell an average of 15 people about negative customer service, and only 11 above positive experiences.
The facts above allow us to conclude that today, customer service is a distinguishing competitive factor among brands, with companies recognize this fact- currently 62% of companies view CX delivered by contact centers as a competitive differentiator. With that being said, what does good online customer service and support actually entail?
Above all, even over speediness of responses, lies empathy.
We have mentioned the need to become authentic, and as human-as-possible in online marketing campaign efforts, and part of this is displaying empathy among your user base. 65% of people feel an emotional connection to brands they choose to interact with, so when engaging in customer-service oriented conversation with users, it is important to reflect this level of emotion that consumers themselves have.
To reiterate, some research has concluded that while rapid correspondence can lead to six times higher engagement, empathetic responses (such as those that display courtesy and other 'people' factors) can result in engagement as nine times as high as standard, baseline support.
In fact, in the chart above, we can see that genuine, human service is, by far, the highest ranking factor for customer support.
Pro-Activity vs. Responsiveness
Yes, reply haste has a notable impact upon customer service and therefore a marked improved in customer satisfaction, but it is not enough to simply be reactive and responsive.
Rather, consumers today expect brands to be proactive: 77% of global consumers have a more amicable view of brands that offer proactive customer service alerts and notifications- the next generation of customer service.
Being proactive means identifying, and resolving a potential customer issue or query before it becomes a realized problem (for the user), which, research has shown, can increase retention rates 3-5%. But wouldn't consumers be bothered by being unwillingly contacted by a brand or business? In this case, no. Oppositely, studies show that 87% of adults who were surveyed are content when being contacted proactively by companies regarding customer service issues specifically.
Shifting from reactive to proactive customer service strategies is not just about tackling the issue before it becomes a problem. In order to stay proactive, we must constantly gather feedback from users, and listen to what they are saying online. For example, studies have shown that 37% of all tweets (positive and negative) are customer-service related.
While being proactive can improve the state of customer support and service, there is also a growing percentage that has a preference for self-service customer support options- 51% to be precise. 91% of customers also said they would use online knowledge bases if they were available and tailored to their needs. This developing trend it seems, will only continue into the future, as by 2020, it is expected that a consumer will manage 85% of their relationship with a brand null human interaction.
These self-service options that users are opting for are a strong psychological tactic as they make the user feel empowered. Additionally, they also help to lower business costs by reducing the amount of resources and time needed to humanly operate the system.
The key to establishing an optimal self-service option for your users is to build a thorough, but easily-digestible FAQ knowledge base, that offers visitors the ability to address most common queries they may have about your brand and its operations.
Social Media Channel Utilization
When it does come to using services however, there is one particular area of the digital ecosystem that is of particular prominence when regarding online customer service and support- social media.
67% of consumers now use social media networks like Twitter and Facebook to seek resolution for their issues.
Lack of recognition of this crucial relevance of social media to customer service is apparent: failure to address customer queries on social media can lead to 15% churn, and 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that leave complaints on social media, unanswered.
However, the effects of proper utilization in marketing can be just as, if not, more profound. Primarily, customers are found to spend 20-40% more with those companies that engage and respond to customers via social media channels. 71% of these same customers are also around three times more likely to recommend a brand following a positive social customer care experience.
When considering social media customer service, it is most important to offer prompt responses. Inability to do so will result in reduced engagement with the brand.
The pie chart above shows that in general, consumers expect a social customer support response within half an hour. In the end, answering a social media complaint can increase brand advocacy by up to 25%.
Live Chat Options
Live Chat is rapidly becoming an essentially part of any customer service strategy for a few reasons.
First, customers don't like waiting on hold- 42% of consumers saying being placed on hold is their number one reason for live chat preferences. Second, 51% of customers prefer live chat as it allows them to multitask more efficiently. Third, it has been found that 41% of users also even find websites that offer live-chat options, more trustworthy. Fourth, 21% say they prefer live chat because it also allows people to complete purchases while at work, instead of waiting to get home, meaning we can lead consumers through the online shopping funnel, quicker.
Ultimately, 92% of consumers who engage in live chat have positive experiences, compared to the other forms of contact, which have lower percentages (phone- 88%, email- 85%, Facebook- 84%, and Twitter- 77%).
When considering live chat options for websites, be as readily available, and engaged as possible. Today, 51% of customers want businesses to be available 24/7, in which case we can consider the introduction of chat bots into customer service strategy (especially after regular business hours, maintaining a human system during scheduled hours).
As with social media, promptness is the key to a successful live chat session (reflected below).
Customer service is an essential part to a successful CX-strategy. Successful customer support is achieved through 1) displaying empathy, 2) rapid correspondence, 3) proactive practices, 4) social media utilization and 5) live chat integration.
Do you have any additional integrations for online customer service strategy as part of an online marketing campaign? Please let us know! Our Digi Digs blog posts are really just conversation starters, and we would love to hear what you think.
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