Customer Service in Today’s Turbulent, Information-Driven World
Let’s talk about where businesses are in the world right now.
2020 has been quite a year. And we’re only six months in, which makes everything that’s already happened seem just that much more dramatic. Throw in the fact that we’re in the home stretch of an election year, and it’s sure to be a perfect storm – no matter what your personal worldview may be.
So, amongst it all, where does your business fit in? During times like these, it becomes very clear that owning a business today can’t be just about revenue. Successful business owners know that everything has to be focused on the customer these days.
With this in mind, let’s talk about where laundromat businesses are in the world right now – and how laundry customers have changed right under our noses. From there, we’ll discuss four ways you can up your customer-oriented efforts and take your business to a more customer-centric (and successful) place.
Your Customer Relationship Has Changed
Businesses used to be the center of the American marketplace. Brands such as Macy’s, Sears, Toys “R” Us and even Blockbuster all used to be behemoths, but they’re now fading or completely defunct.
Why is that?
You can blame it on bad business models or poor decisions, but all of their stories share a common thread – Americans consume differently than they did 20 years ago. It’s just a fact. At least a quarter of American adults shop online at least once per month, and more than three-fourths of local buying decisions begin on Google. Information and access have changed us.
So, who is the center of the market now? The customers. They vote with their wallets, and they have a plethora of information to advise their every decision. They have many options, so you need to stand out. The best way to do so is make your business even more customer-centric, which right now means reviewing and refreshing your online presence.
To help you navigate these shifting and difficult waters, I’ve shared a few helpful thoughts below that can point you in the right direction with regard to enhancing your online customer service experience.
Email Isn’t Going Anywhere
I tend to hear two extremes when it comes to email and business owners – they’re either not getting any email, or they’re overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Both are indicative of problems.
If you’re not getting any emails (or email addresses) – especially from customers – it means you’re not actively trying to engage with them. More than half of Americans check their personal email at least 10 times per day, so failing to include yourself in their inbox is a major misstep.
However, an equally damaging miscue is taking too long to reply to an inquiry or being so inconsistent with your emails that you only show up once or twice a year. Customer service is about striking a balance, being timely and sharing the right message with the right audience.
The reason so many business owners struggle with email is simple: they’re not using the right tools. Email isn’t just about your inbox and outbox. It includes automation, analytics, careful content creation, multiple follow-ups and tons of behind-the-scenes tinkering to improve. The right tools can help you manage a heavy email load and keep things simple.
My advice to boost your email customer service is to look into automation services, helpdesks, analytics and content creation best practices that can help you improve your email game. It may take time, but email is here to stay – and it can make a powerful impact on your business.
Be Ready Everywhere
Your website and social media presence are powerful tools when it comes to customer service, and every business these days should have a working website. It’s the price of entry we all must pay, but that’s not a bad thing.
A solid website acts as the basis for your customer service. The way you organize and deliver information, how many questions you answer and how many testimonials you share can all impact the outcome of a website visit. Even something as simple as including your services online can make a difference.
Of course, the technology doesn’t stop there. These days, you can interact with chatbots (even on Facebook), have comment interactions on posts or even go live directly to your audience. The possibilities to connect with your audience are endless, and every touch is part of customer service.
However, digital isn’t everything. Although we’re in a digital age, you still have to be ready for live interactions with customer service. One of the biggest factors to consider is how you handle phone calls to your business. This includes how you direct people to your phone number, as well as how you interact with potential customers who call your business.
Let’s talk about the latter first. A friend of mine recently shared his first experience going to a laundromat in a new city:
“I hadn’t been inside a laundromat since college many years ago, so I had no idea what to expect. I checked out a few stores in my area. However, calling these businesses in advance is what really sealed the deal for me. The person I spoke with at one laundromat in particular was very friendly, shared everything I needed to know and made me feel like I’d be at home there. And they’ve now got a loyal customer for life.”
That’s a pretty powerful statement all on its own, and it’s indicative of how people vet businesses beyond their webpages. Of course, they have to be able to find your phone number first, which should absolutely be on your mobile-friendly website and any local listings. All of these elements work together to create a unified experience that enables you to showcase the authenticity of your brand.
Build Good Habits
Lastly, let’s talk about your customer service habits as a whole, because how you approach service is just as important as the final service you provide.
Here are five keys to building solid customer service habits:
Measure what you can. Believe it or not, customer service can be measured, to a degree. For instance, how quickly do you reply to customers? On average, how many interactions does it take for a complaint to be remedied? The list goes on, and you need to improve those numbers where you can.
Be prompt. Even if it takes you a while to figure out a solution, prompt responses that engage can help to keep momentum in your favor.
Find self-service methods. Resources on your website – such as FAQs, how-to information and other helpful articles – are a great way to solve customer problems and to answer questions before they flood your inbox or phone lines.
Always look to improve. This one should go without saying. You can always be better. Until your customer satisfaction rate is 100 percent, you have something on which to improve.
Train your team. Changing your approach means bringing your team with you, so don’t forget to engage them as well. Some things will come easier than others, but improvement is always a necessity.
I’ll tell you what I tell my team at Spynr – always be as down-to-earth and relatable as possible when it comes to customer service. Focus on emotions. Focus on relationships. Focus on what matters. And find the right tools that enable you to connect.
The rest will simply take care of itself.