Incorporating Human Touchpoints Alongside Technology to Improve Customer Service
By RJ Horsley, President, SpotOn Transact
There’s no doubt technology has streamlined how businesses interact with customers, leading to reduced labor costs and increased efficiency across the board. Unfortunately, implementing technology can be a double-edged sword. Rely on it too much, and a business risks losing any semblance of a personal touch with its customer base, resulting in minimal brand loyalty and high attrition rates. This, in turn, puts more pressure on sales and marketing to attract higher numbers of new customers and convert more leads.
What’s a business’s typical response? Adding more technology! This could be a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, more complex lead-gen funnels on the company website, new automated nurturing email campaigns, cloud-based appointment booking software, and so on. These tech solutions are all useful, but relying on them without recognizing the root issue leads to a closed loop where no tech solution is ever good enough to keep customers around. The real solution, of course, is putting into place processes that create touchpoints for customers to connect with a real human, and then a commitment across the organization to provide top-notch customer support that works in tandem with their tech, not in spite of it.
Here are three areas to do just that, where businesses can create customer service touchpoints alongside tech to get the best of both worlds: improved efficiency and high customer retention rates.
1. Company Website
For businesses that rely on generating sales or leads on their website, chatbots have been growing in popularity, seeing as they reduce the need for customer support reps to answer questions. That’s the theory, at least. In reality, it turns out customers feel duped when a chatbot presents itself as a human. In reality, chatbots have a 70% failure rate when it comes to answering customer questions.
The solution isn’t necessarily to ditch chatbots—or FAQs, videos, case studies, or any other resources—but to make it easy for customers to talk to a real person when they want to. Chatbots should present themselves for what they are, bots, and when they can’t answer a question, they should be programmed to offer customers an opportunity to speak to a human, whether it’s over the phone, via chat, or a live online demo.
Furthermore, whichever communication channel the business sets up should also be well displayed across the site in the form of call-outs, and call-to-action buttons. When a customer wants to speak with a person because they are ready to buy or sign up, it should be easy to do so, or they’ll move on to a competitor’s site.
2. Welcome Emails
Automated technology can go a long way to get new customers onboarded. Email drip campaigns, for example, are great at delivering tutorials, videos, and links to online knowledge bases or user forums. The problem is these emails can easily come across as cold, corporate-sounding, or impersonal.
The solution is counter-intuitive. Rather than making these onboarding emails look highly-produced and overly branded, make them look like they come from a real person’s email account—meaning less reliance on fancy html and more reliance on plain text. The idea is to make it look like a customer service rep typed up a quick email, including a thumbnail image or two with outgoing links to get the customer to actively engage with the onboarding. Then, most importantly, the email should end with an email signature from a real customer service rep.
To take this a step further, the actionable item in the first email of the welcome campaign could be to prompt the customer to set up a phone appointment with the customer service rep, and if the customer doesn’t do so in a timely manner, the assigned customer service rep could call, even if it’s just to leave a friendly voicemail. Busy customers might not take advantage of the opportunity to speak to a real person, but they will have at least heard a real human’s voice and know the company cares enough to have someone on standby if they ever need them.
3. Social Media
Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are traditionally seen as the domain for marketing teams, but because consumers are more likely to make complaints online now, rather than reaching out directly to a company, social media should be treated as another form of customer service.
Specifically, companies should monitor their social media pages and their business profiles on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Technology can come in handy here with review management software to provide real-time alerts when new reviews or messages are posted. Then, a customer service rep should respond immediately, especially since studies suggest that 42 percent of customers expect a public response within an as little as an hour after posting a complaint.
The company’s responses should, at a minimum, include a public response to address the complaint. This is as much for the sake of online bystanders who might see the post as it is for the customer waging the complaint. Then, if the complaint is serious enough, the customer service rep should directly message the customer with contact information to speak in person. Again, the customer might decline to speak in person, but seeing the company’s willingness to do so will show them that the company values their business.
These are just a few examples of opportunities that exist for creating customer touchpoints. Every business type will have its own unique opportunities they should capitalize on. At the end of the day, it’s similar to the mindset that a successful field salesperson has in our modern marketplace. This salesperson effectively uses their CRM software to keep track of their leads—whether they are hot or cold leads, who the decision maker is, what pain points the prospect has, etc. Yes, this allows them to better manage their day, but it also helps them have more meaningful conversations with those leads that result in more deals. Then, after a sale, the successful salesperson uses the CRM to keep track of when to check-in on their clients and make sure they remain happy, lifelong clients. If a business can successfully marry their tech and customer service policies in the same way, they too will see happy, lifelong customers.