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10 Minutes: That’s All The Time You Have To Solve Customer Issues.

October 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Money/Business, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comEverybody wants excellent customer service, including entrepreneurs themselves. But making it happen is a whole different animal. Entrepreneurs often have the best of intentions, but without ruthless oversight, many lose track of the quality of their customer interactions, especially in large teams.

The data suggest that companies have around 10 minutes to resolve customer issues. Compared to the amount of time companies have to grab a new customer’s attention (often a matter of seconds), that sounds like an eternity. But then when you consider that problems can be complex, and people get passed from one rep to another, suddenly 10 minutes becomes a very short period of time indeed.

The online retailer Zappos never accepted poor customer service. From the outset, the company decided that it would have automatic standards in place to win customers over, no matter the cost. Zappos customers now expect to get through to an agent immediately when they have a problem, and they expect to get through at any time of day. Furthermore, they don’t want to listen to a person reading out a script on the other end of the phone. Instead, they want a warm, caring human being who is deeply interested in their needs.

Zappos has managed it. And so can you.

Customers do not want to waste their time on problems that your business created. It’s a double insult and one that will remain in their memory for a long time. What they want is for issues to be resolved quickly. Here are some ways that your business can deal with customer problems in under 10 minutes.

Use Social Media Channels

Does your business have a Facebook page? If so, then you’re in a perfect position to offer quick and easy support to customers on a platform they already understand.

Many companies, especially those in customer-focused arenas, already use Facebook chat to engage with customers. Customers already understand messenger, and it’s a great way to speak to them in an environment in which they feel comfortable. Chatbots can work here for common questions, but you still want to keep a staff of trained assistant to help customers through more difficult issues.

Talking to a business whether on Facebook or not, is as simple as picking up the phone, using WhatsApp CRM, or sending a text. More firms should be doing this.

Don’t Bury Your Phone Number

Many business leaders follow conventions, without even realizing. There’s a convention in the language we use, the people we hire, and the way we structure our businesses.

But while convention is natural, it’s not necessarily the best for customers. For instance, take business websites. There seems to be an unwritten rule that the only place to keep a phone number is on the contacts page, hidden away in small text. Despite the business website essentially being a form of advertising, the actual contact details are regularly hidden. No business would create a newspaper or television advertisement without including contact details front and center, so why hide them on the website?

Smart entrepreneurs include their contact details in the heading on the home page. And even smarter ones include one-click calling options and a Skype button.

Use Online Portals

If you run a B2B business, you still have to deal with customer issues. These issues can often be a lot more complicated since it is likely that your vendors have a more complex relationship with you than a single customer might in a customer-facing business.

You can make life easier for clients using digital utilities, such as tools from DataServ. These tools make it easier to resolve vendor issues, even when it involves complicated things such as billing multiple vendors. One of the good things about outsourcing these services is that they help to keep the time between problem and resolution to a minimum. With smart portals, you can reduce the work your team has to do, as well as the time it takes to transact with other businesses, helping to increase accuracy.

Plan Responses In Advance

If you run a small business, you’ll quickly find that the same problems tend to come up over and over again. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel every time you resolve an issue, try creating a template for the entire team. This template should have a proven track record of helping customers in the fastest and most convenient way. It should maximize their satisfaction with your service.

The template can be a script for a customer service operative, an email with customizable fields for the customer, or even a planned statement. By having something that is ready to go immediately for common problems, you’re freed up to deal with the most challenging issues promptly.

Set Clear Notifications

To maintain a good relationship with your customers, it’s important to respond immediately to their concern. Customers who have to wait will feel as if you don’t consider their feedback important.

Notifications are, therefore, essential. But often, this simple tool doesn’t work correctly. Often, customer service representatives don’t notice that a customer has a problem. It’s either too quiet, too small, or buried away somewhere in their UI.

Then there’s the multi-channel problem. Often small businesses have one person tending to multiple channels: Facebook, Twitter, the website chat box, email, phone and so on. It soon becomes difficult to meet all customer’s needs from all platforms. Live Chat suggests having one person per channel. But if that is too expensive for your business, try using a channel aggregator instead.

Announce Problems And Fixes In Advance

Many large companies know in advance that they are going to have a problem with some aspect of their service. Perhaps their servers are down for maintenance. Or maybe they have had to cut back on production because they are upgrading the line.

Whatever the issue, customers need to be informed up front to manage expectations. Blizzard Entertainment, for instance, keeps customers updated on its app launcher of any change in status. Posting on social media increases the chances that your customers will get a notification and expect temporary disruptions in their service.

Staff Writer; Greg Adams

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