By Dave Millett, Equinox
Good communication is key to customer satisfaction. But unfortunately many companies don’t spend enough time thinking about how their customer would like to communicate with them and making this easy. If you only think about how you want customer to contact you you’re in danger of frustrating them – a recipe for losing out to the competition.
With the growth of social media, it may be that you get enquiries via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook etc. Small business owners may also get enquiries though their personal Facebook profiles. The key is to ensure that you can respond quickly however your customers choose to reach you.
You can encourage certain types of communication but you need to be careful to avoid creating barriers. When you want customers to call you these are some mistakes to avoid:
Giving endless options to callers.
A barrier that irritates a lot of customers is the ‘press1 for’, ‘press 2 for’. You can do the math; if your announcement had three levels of choice and each level has five choices that means that customers could be making 125 choices. How much simpler to speak to someone and say “can I talk to someone about…”
Asking for data immediately
Some telephone systems ask customers to provide account or customer numbers before they get to speak to a human being. That can be especially frustrating if the customer service person then asks for the same number again!
Forcing customer to listen to recorded messages
You know the ones…”Your call is important to us”. Customers are well aware that if they are really that important there would be more staff to answer calls.
Obviously smaller companies may not be able to afford the more complex options but they still need to consider how they deal with an enquiry when it is received. For example, should you use an answering service or let a call go to voicemail? Should someone review all incoming emails and send a ‘holder’ saying ‘thank you for your email, X will be in touch within 48 hours’? Should the person in charge of your social media be given the job of replying to contacts via the various social platforms? Or does this require input from someone more senior?
When considering using an answering service, ask yourself, for example, can the answering service add value or will it just take a message? Can they solve or answer some queries? If they are just passing on a call-back message how does that help?
Overall you want to make it easy for customers to reach you at either no cost to them or at a low cost. You also want the means of communication to suit them. If you haven’t done it recently I recommend that you ring your own company and pretend to be a customer. There is no better test than a real experience. Find out if contacting your company via social media is an experience you are happy with. If you aren’t happy I can guarantee your customer won’t be either. Think about how you can make improvements that will keep your customer coming back to you rather than getting fed up and contacting your competitors.
About the Author
Dave Millett has over 35 years’ experience in the Telecoms Industry. He has worked in European Director roles for several global companies. He now runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm. He works with many companies, charities and other organisations and has helped them achieve savings of up to 80%. He also regularly advises telecom suppliers on improving their products and propositions.