By Nick Peart, Marketing Director EMEA, Zendesk
Excellent customer service should be a living breathing heart of your business and it’s a given that in today’s world, most, if not all of those customers will be using at least one social platform to share and communicate their experiences with.
Social media is and should be viewed as an enabler of direct communication between the customer and the business, working in tandem alongside traditional channels which continue to remain key to a company’s customer service offering.
The term customer service is now described more accurately as ‘customer engagement’ and the path to its success is a continuous one that involves people, product and practice. It’s vital that companies realise how to communicate their services or products with clarity, passion, creativity and transparency and respond to enquiries, big or small, as soon as is humanly possible, whether a tweet, post, or call.
All are as important as each other and must be treated with the same sense of urgency. Mishandle or ignore altogether and there is a real risk of being out of touch and at a competitive disadvantage.
Generally, companies are on board with social, but problems arise when they put communications platforms in place without the necessary back-end preparation.
It’s important to ensure that at any interaction point, the customer is successfully experiencing the service, product or offer rather than being confused by it. It may only take five minutes to set up a Twitter account, but planning how it will be used and maintaining it to keep it current requires a lot more thought and planning. Everything should work holistically and be easy to use and understand.
It is important for businesses to listen to what their customers are saying about its products and services. Analysing the incoming information and queries from customers will show the frequently asked questions. In many cases, these can then be addressed on a multiple scale by placing the content in a community forum or a knowledge library on the company website. Time spent on putting these materials in place will save time and money later on.
It’s essential that companies keep up with changing and emerging trends, as falling behind the curve now could be their achilles heel. Although the volume of social channels may seem overwhelming; managed appropriately, they can hugely improve the efficiency of the support team, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and importantly, generate new sales opportunities.
The proliferation of communication vehicles can lead to a discordant organisational experience – if one agent is solely checking twitter and another email, it’s inevitable that confusion and ultimately bad customer service will entail due to each one operating in silos.
In the future, all help desks will be seamless platforms providing a single view of what enquiries are coming in, what’s being actioned , by whom and via which channel . Moreover, other people in the company can check in on progress too; the CEO can track a ticket while he’s waiting for a train – and the COO can keep an eye on productivity - it makes business sense.
Live, helpful support, although time-consuming and expensive, will remain one of the most effective ways to ensuring ultimate customer satisfaction; we all know how good it is to talk. But with good self-service channels in place fewer live support agents will be needed, thus reducing the overall operational costs.
Social media is not a silver bullet, nor the only solution for customer support. But there is no denying the power and impact it can have on your business as a part of your multi-channel support.
KashFlow provides easy-to-use accounting software for small businesses. Founded by entrepreneur Duane Jackson in 2002, with the help of the Prince’s Trust, KashFlow is now the market leading Web-based accounting software in the UK.
“We were using another SaaS help desk solution previously but it was rather limited, especially when it came to offering ‘out of hours’ support via mobile devices, and it was unreliable in terms of server downtime,” explained KashFlow’s General Manager Dominique Gillespie. “Plus, with social media having changed the face of customer support, we needed a solution that could be integrated with our various Twitter profiles.
“We gave ourselves just five days to integrate Zendesk across the business,” Gillespie continued. “We actually only needed three days before we pressed the button to go live.”
A year on, and KashFlow has found the self-service support options offered by Zendesk, including the forums and knowledge base, particularly useful; highlighting the importance of efficient customer service and the growing trend of outsourcing the commodity in the digital age.
“Previously, our customer support team members couldn’t update our knowledge base themselves. That meant that when new features were added to our software, there was a delay in updating it as only our developers could add the information,” Gillespie concluded. “With Zendesk, it’s so much easier. Agents can do the updates themselves, which means that articles about new features are available sooner and customers can read about them rather than sending in a support ticket.”