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COVID-19 and your Customers: The Importance of Quality Customer Service

Man with a headset on

Good customer service is one of the main pillars of any successful business. The ability to efficiently address your customers’ questions with genuine concern positions you as trustworthy and reliable.

According to a report from Verint, quality customer-service experiences translate into tangible benefits. After a positive experience, customers are more likely to renew the product or service, sign up for a business’s loyalty program and leave a positive review.

Clearly, centering the customer makes good business sense — and that’s especially true amid the ongoing uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought into our lives. So what can you do to make sure your customers feel supported by the best possible service?

First things first

Being transparent and reliable starts with acknowledging what’s happening around us and reassuring customers that you’re here for them. Companies and consumers alike know it’s not business as usual, but you can make it clear that you’re in control and capable of going above and beyond. The key is communicating and managing expectations.

  1. Make it visible: On your website, place COVID-related updates and contact information front and center so customers don’t need to hunt for it. Placing a notice on your homepage alerts customers to changes and reassures them that you’re nimbly responding to their needs.
  2. Help customers self-help: Now’s the time to create or flesh out your FAQ page. Anticipating customers’ concerns can potentially reduce the volume of calls and emails you receive.
  3. Be honest: Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders mean many businesses (and their customer-service departments) are operating with skeleton crews. If changes to your business might result in longer hold times, shipping delays and other shifts, let your customers know what to expect.
  4. Offer perks: In unprecedented times, it can help to offer benefits to boost customer loyalty. For instance, OWD is offering free Amazon integrations for sellers negatively affected by Amazon’s decision to suspend inbound shipments.

What to ask yourself

Should I bulk up my customer-service options?

If you typically offer customer support through one or two channels like phone and email, consider expanding your digital options to better align with customer preferences.

While phone support is still the preferred option for customers dealing with complicated issues, the past few years have seen a spike in online live chat use.

Offering a chat option doesn’t just benefit your customers; it has the potential to keep your business growing. A 2017 report from Kayako found that 79 percent of businesses offering a live chat option on their sites noticed a positive effect on sales, revenue and customer loyalty. Just over half of the consumers surveyed said they were “more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they offer live chat support.”

The common threads through consumers’ support preferences are efficiency (no one likes long hold times or waiting for an email response) and personal, human interaction. Live chatting with customers can foster both, especially if it keeps customers from having to repeat themselves and their question at every step.

When it comes to complaints, however, consumers tend to prefer email, which allows them to get their thoughts out uninterrupted while creating a written record. There’s also a growing preference among younger consumers for social-media callouts when something goes awry. Making sure your customer-service department is highly responsive and easily accessible through a variety of channels means customers don’t have to turn to Twitter in the hopes of getting your attention — and publicizing a negative experience in the process.

On the flip side, having an active, friendly social media presence can boost customer engagement and loyalty, especially if you’re quick to respond to complaints (or praise). If you can show you’re listening, customers will keep coming back.

What other needs can I predict and fulfill?

Think about the delight you can spark by offering perks that make your customers’ lives easier. What services does it make sense to offer right now? For instance, you might consider extending your returns policy or discounting certain services. Plenty of companies are responding in real time to customer needs:

  • Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft’s Teams are offering free upgrades and free trials to qualifying customers.
  • Some food-delivery services are trimming fees.
  • To help students who were forced off campus, U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage to anyone with a college ID.

Am I getting more customer-service inquiries?

You’ve been honest with your customer base about longer hold times or reduced customer-service hours. You’ve given them more ways to get in touch with their questions and concerns. But what happens if you get truly overwhelmed and can’t hire new staff to handle the influx? It might be time to consider outsourcing your customer-service operations to a partner.

Outsourcing doesn’t mean you don’t care about handling your customer’s concerns. On the contrary, it shows a dedication to responding as quickly as possible.If you’d like to talk customer service strategy, you can call us at 1-866-289-9010 or email us at sales (at) owd (dot) com.