The purpose of automating your customer service is to relieve overly heavy workloads on your employers while improving the experience for your customers. It’s a symbiotic relationship, a win-win, and it can help give small businesses the boost they need to thrive. However, it’s also easy to let automation completely take over and leads to a poor experience for your customers. How can you strike the right balance, and ensure you stay on that fine line?
There are some do’s and don’ts of customer automation, especially for small businesses. Before you make the leap to automation, make sure your customers, business and employees are all good fits for such an approach. Just like Facebook, a majority of people can use this new technology to their advantage but it’s not going to be ideal for everyone.
Do get feedback
Before you even move to automation, get feedback from both customers and employees. This will bring new perspectives to light, allow you to address issues (and consider some you may have overlooked) and serves as a transitional period. Nobody likes surprises in business, and this is your opportunity to open dialogue and help everyone prepare.
Don’t make things overly complicated
As consumers, we’re so hard wired to dread an automated touch phone system (and are on auto pilot when pressing one for English), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Touch systems can expedite processes, but there shouldn’t be more than a couple of options. Your customer’s time is precious and needs to be respected. Avoid the directories, endless web of directions, and keep these systems simple.
Do cater to your demographics
Automated customer service might include a live video chat option on your website or other high-tech approach. That’s great if your customer base is tech savvy and will appreciate this offering. It’s not going to work if your customers are largely elderly and just want to talk to a live person. Match the technology to the customers.
Don’t make it impossible to talk to a “real person”
There will always come a time when an automated system just isn’t going to cut it—this should be an option for your customers, not a requirement. Don’t hide the ways to get a live person, be accessible and don’t lean too heavily on automated technology. Treating your customers how you’d like to be treated is a good place to start.
Do provide ongoing training
Training your employees in both the basics of traditional customer service as well as how to handle the technology is paramount. One training session before the technology is launched isn’t going to cut it. Everyone benefits from refresher courses, and great customer service is the foundation of many small businesses.
Don’t forget to reassess
As automated technology changes, your customer base shifts, and your company grows, you’ll have to keep making tweaks to how you work with customers. Don’t be afraid to keep shaking things up as long as you follow the previous do’s and don’ts.
Putting customers first is a must in a competitive market. How are you treating yours?
About the Author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
“Support Service” courtesy of renjith krishnan / www.freedigitalphotos.net