No amount of automated marketing or AI technology will change the fact that customer service must remain at the top of your company’s priority list. If you’re not providing a quality shopping experience from start to finish, it won’t matter how many leads you generate or how much organic traffic you attract to the website. Unsatisfied customers will bust your bottom line over time.
“Customer service is No. 1 for us. Making our customers happy and excited about their purchase is what we are here for,” says Kelly Mullins, who oversees Marketing & Online Sales at Railway Freight Furniture based in Georgia. “And, we want them to come back and shop with us again … and send their friends and family! People want to feel like you truly care about what they need.”
Mullins says delivering that level of customer care starts on the website, where most people begin their shopping. They expect instant yet personal responses when reaching out to a business.
“It’s so important to be engaged digitally, because that’s where most start their buying decisions,” Mullins says. “They will have questions and want to talk to someone, and you have to be ready to help get their business.”
Create a Concierge Website Experience to Service Customers
Helping the customer starts with maximizing your company’s website, often a customer’s initial interaction with your brand, so it’s engaging and delivering information that’s relevant to each individual shopper.
“It’s important that your first touchpoint with the consumer, you’re getting across the information you want to, because that first touch sets the stage for everything else,” says Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at Youtech, a full-service digital marketing and advertising agency with offices in Chicago and Scottsdale, Arizona. “It’s important to have a really good digital footprint, since that’s where people start their search, and then a really good response time after that.”
Make it easy for them to window shop and collect information on your products until they’re ready to visit in person to make a purchase. Create a concierge experience that serves customers with personalized, targeted content and leads shoppers to the next best step in their buying journey, based on where they’re at in the process. Offer appointment scheduling tools so they can book a tour or in-store consultation and receive VIP treatment. Then, be sure to follow up quickly with online leads or have a system in place to automate the initial response so they feel acknowledged.
“In today’s digital world, if customers want/need help or have questions, they want answers now! On their time!” Mullin says. “PERQ has helped us tremendously with this. We already talk to our customers on social media and email, but now we have a way to talk to the customer while they’re browsing on our website. It takes a lot of time and effort, but is a great way to engage with our online customers.”
As they shop around and interact with the website, put in place software to capture data about each online lead, so your sales team can use those personal details to close the deal. Knowing things like what kind of pets they own or their favorite pastimes helps you better understand what they need, and subsequently provide the customer with better service.
Your Customer Service Reps and Digital Sales Teams Drive Your Business
Customer service representatives and those who staff your digital sales teams will likely be the main people who directly interact with consumers before they come in to visit in person. Make sure they’re prepared to adequately answer all questions that come their way and appropriately direct shoppers to the right next person, because those initial interactions often determine how a consumer views your company overall.
“The people who they talk to are ultimately going to be the people who drive your business,” Norris says. “That customer service is so important, because customers now go and leave reviews online based on their experience and what they felt. It’s so important to make them feel good every step of the way, that they have a positive-enough experience they want to go and leave a review. People only leave reviews if they’re really happy or really mad. There’s really no in-between.”
Utilize AI Technology to Improve Your Customer Service
With consumers accustomed to getting an immediate response when online shopping with big brands, technology helps smaller companies meet those expectations and give leads the instant gratification (and the information) they seek.
Once a lead comes in or a consumer submits an inquiry, it’s critical for your sales team to provide an immediate response acknowledging their request and quickly follow up with additional information.
“People are used to very snippy-snappy results nowadays,” Norris says of consumer expectations across the many industries his digital advertising agency serves.
Businesses use technology to not only instantly respond but also personalize the response through automated email or text messaging. By capturing customer data as they engage with a website’s AI-powered experiences, like a chat-to-text Q&A tool or interactive quiz, lead information can be funneled directly into a CRM through a marketing cloud.
From there, schedule personalized email or text nurture campaigns to continuously nurture the lead that shows you care about their search for the perfect purchase. Cater to their needs based on what they look at on your website and the data they hand over as they shop around. Provide helpful content, offer a scheduled meeting with an expert on your staff or include an incentive to get them to take action — and to buy from you when they are ready.
“Getting all of that information into your CRM and then into an automation system is important, because that will allow you to follow up in both an efficient way for you and in an effective, personalized way for the potential client,” Norris says.
Meet Customers Where They Shop
Consumers now have more ways than ever to communicate with companies they do business with, from online chat and messenger apps to emails and text messages. To provide top-notch service, you must communicate in the customer’s preferred format.
“People are going to have issues that extend beyond just an FAQ page or what your website can answer,” Norris says. “Having different channels of communication are important. If a customer wants to email you, they are going to expect their response to that email. Same thing, if a customer reaches out on social media; or if they call, then they want to talk to a real person.”
Norris says consumer expectations remain steady across all of the various industries his digital marketing agency serves: they want quick, helpful customer service when they have questions or encounter a problem.
“I mean, in the end, people are all people,” Norris says. “Generally speaking, people buy the same ways.”