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Customer service is vital to the reputation, sales, customer experience, and long-term growth of any business. One of the major challenges of customer service, however, is how dynamic of a process it is.
Although most people think of customer service as simply taking in customer complaint calls or emails, there’s a lot more going on behind the complaint box.
Today’s leaders in customer service recognize that connecting with customers is a process, and businesses that place their customers at the center of that process are the most likely to succeed.
In this post, Gladly, a radically personal customer service platform, covers the three phases of customer service, and gives advice for how to keep people—your customers—at the center of each phase.
Pre-contact Phase of Customer Service
This phase occurs before customers engage with the customer service team. It includes their discovery and exploration of your website, contact channels—such as social media and site chat—and first impression of your company’s brand.
Customer service starts long before customers have made their purchase, asked a question, or called to complain about a service or product.
Customer service starts with your website and online availability. It starts with your social media presence and branding. It starts with the avenues of communication that you’ve provided and made available to your customers.
Here are some ways you can bolster your pre-contact stages of customer relationships.
- Train your team: One of the most simple and effective ways to prepare for interacting with customers is to provide training to your team and staff. If you’re transitioning from phone to chat box responses, make sure you set some chat guidelines and practices. If you’re introducing a new line of products or services, make sure your team is up to date on those changes. [Read More: Call Center Quiz]
- Get to know your Customers: Especially as customer service strategies continue to move online and through social media, you need to know the people that your business serves if you’re going to connect with them. Identifying your customers can help you set guidelines for the kind of language, videos, and content you’ll be sharing with them.
- Make CX easy to find: Contacting your customer service team should be easy for customers. This means making it easy to find your customer service page, contact information, and FAQs. This also means making yourself available and present on social media.
Contact Phase of Customer Service
This phase occurs when customers make their first (or repeated) contact with a company, usually with customer service or support teams. This is the most critical customer service phase, as it heavily influences customer decisions on whether to buy from or interact with your company in the future.
The contact stage of a customer relationship is one of, if not the most important aspects of customer service.
While preparing in the pre-contact phase will help set you up for success, it really comes down to the first moment of contact for you to set the tone with your customers.
Below are some tips to ensure your contact phase leaves a great impression on your customers.
- Personalize the experience: Behind every sale and transaction is a customer, and behind that customer is an individual person that you can build a relationship with. Addressing customers by name, referring to the individual’s history log, and avoiding robotic or scripted language will go a long way to making your customers feel valued.
- Empathize: Empathy is so important for every step of the customer service process, but it’s especially important here to understand where your customers are coming from. Empathizing is understanding, and your customers will recognize that. [Read More: Empathy Exercises in Customer Service]
- Communicate Clearly and Respectfully: In order to answer questions or explain things to your customers, you need to be clear and respectful. Simple language and a respectful demeanor will help get your point across in a positive manner.
Post-contact Phase of Customer Service
This phase occurs after customers have contacted your customer service team. It can happen immediately, in the form of a response form (“Was our team helpful in resolving your issue?”) or after several weeks or months have passed, in the form of a survey, such as a customer satisfaction survey.
The post-contact phase of customer service is all about forming long-lasting relationships and building for the future.
You don’t want your efforts in the pre-contact and contact phase to go to waste by not following up and maintaining your relationship in the post-contact phase.
- Ask for Feedback: When you ask for feedback, it shows sincerity and transparency in your customer service approach. Additionally, it will help you learn about your customer service process and make improvements where necessary.
- Learn From the Past. How have you held onto customers in the past? How have you lost some of them? What are some ways that you’ve been able to interact and engage with your customers in a positive manner? Identifying these points will help you and your team learn from your triumphs and mistakes, and enable you to continually refine your customer service strategy.
Drive revenue from your customer service team with Gladly.
Level Up Your Customer Service Systems and Processes
Gladly can help you personalize, energize, and simplify your customer service teams’ strategies and processes. With Gladly’s state-of-the-art customer service platform, you can personalize your customer experience, meet your customers on the channels of their choice, and build lifelong relationships that keep them coming back.
Gladly is a customer service platform for digitally-focused B2C companies who want to maximize the lifetime value of their customers. Unlike the legacy approach to customer service software, which is designed around a ticket or case to enable workflows, Gladly enables radically personal customer service centered around people to sustain customer loyalty and drive more revenue.
The world’s most innovative consumer companies like Godiva, JOANN, and TUMI use Gladly to create lasting customer relationships, not one-off experiences.