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7 Tips to Improve Online Customer Service & Increase Sales

Excellent customer service is what separates an average company, from the best company in any field. Learn how to leverage customer service to turn the customers of today into the customers of tomorrow.

Editor’s Note: We read a lot these days that people are not buying “products” as much as they are buying “experiences”. Understanding how customers experience your brand, pre- and post-buying, has become a critical topic for many marketers. Here, James Daily provides a very useful summary of the ways brands can build sales through a focus on customer experience.

When you want to keep your customers happy, you need to be able to provide them with best-in-class customer service. For every good interaction a customer has, they’ll tell 3 people, but for a negative interaction, this will often be 7 or more. This fact alone goes to show the importance of customer service. Add in the fact that 63% of people read online reviews before purchasing, it’s clear that you need to keep the customers of today happy if you going to find the customers tomorrow. All you need now is to know how you do it. 

The Benefits of the Best-in-Class Customer Service 

Customer service has 3 main benefits that every business could do with: 

  • It allows you to show your customers that you care by helping them even after they’ve parted with their money
  • Customer service will act as the perfect marketing tool as it will prompt happy customers to tell their friends and family, as well as leaving a positive online review 
  • Taking a proactive approach will guarantee a greater percentage of your customers become regular buyers 

How to Improve the Standards of Your Customer Service 

Improving your customer service can seem like an arduous journey, but break it down into the following 7 easy steps and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time. 

1. Listen to Your Customers by Employing Feedback Analysis

Asking your customers what they think, and taking on board what they have to say will be central to your success. Ignoring your customers and thinking that you know best is a guaranteed way to see a gradual exodus of customers that will snowball before you know it. 

In order to better understand the nature of your customers’ feedback and extract valuable information out of it — you need to collate your data first. Secondly, you’ll need to separate it in categories based on the type and the theme of the feedback. 

Let’s imagine you’ve received the following message from your customer: 

“Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for the great product. I’ve benefitted a lot thanks to the XXX feature. The only thing I feel is missing is the ability to message other people on the app/platform. Thanks again and keep up the good work!”

So how do we categorize this message? 

  • Type of feedback — Feature Request
  • Theme of feedback — Internal Messaging

Once you’ve collected all the feedback from your customers and structured it in these categories, you’ll end up with a better and a more in-depth understanding of what’s lacking in your customers’ experiences with your product or service. 

2. Offer Online Live Chat Support to Every Single Customer 

If you want to be able to turn browsers into buyers, you need to be available to answer their questions 24/7. No one likes to go into a physical store and be ignored, and the same goes for the world of online shopping.

Having a well-rehearsed set of standard answers, and an experienced team that can think on their feet is always the way to go.

3. Reach Out Using Social Media

If you want to connect with your customers, then you need to make yourself approachable. Social media is a great way to do this, but you need to get the balance right so that you’re not spamming people, or trying to sell them something every 5 minutes. 

4. Utilize Chatbots to Cover Any Gaps in Your Support

Giving your customers the information they need to resolve issues, clarify problems, and ultimately make purchasing decisions is what online selling is all about. Chatbots allow you to deploy a highly scalable and user-friendly solution with the click of a button. 

Chatbots are helping businesses provide support when human teams have gone home for the night. They’re going to be an invaluable resource going forward.

5. Track Queries and Complaints With a Detailed CRM System

CRM systems are all about making your life easier by centralizing the interactions you have with your customers. This allows the company as a whole to address key issues, rather than having them fall on a small disparate group of people on an ad hoc basis. 

CRM is an important tool for every client-oriented business because it allows the whole team to see what’s going on. Often, you can find that someone who is dealing with a case will be assisted by someone from a different department who dealt well with a similar case just a couple of weeks earlier. 

6. Offer Something of Value, and Give it Away for Nothing

Rewarding loyalty is an under-used aspect of customer service. Just as you want to remedy situations that need improvement, you should try and enhance relationships that are progressing well. 

Offering a chance to win an iPad for completing a customer satisfaction survey is one way that you could go about it. And you’ll also want to consider your longest-standing customers. Offer them exclusive discounts and free delivery, and you’ll be able to keep them coming back for many more years to come. 

7. Social Proof is the Best Way to Show Authenticity

Including reviews and glowing feedback in a prominent position on your site is the best way to show prospective customers the quality of your offering. This will have the benefit of giving them confidence in your service and will provide the impetus that turns a higher proportion of them from browsers, into buyers. 

Meg Zavala, the brand manager for Top Writers Review explains: “The reason why businesses are in dire need of authenticity and transparency in their branding is the overall trust crisis in regards to marketers and corporations.” 

Here are some common practices to achieve an authentic customer experience:

  • Being transparent about pricing and why your services/product cost as much as they cost.
  • Being transparent about your clients’ experiences. 
  • Creating content that reflects your mission.
  • Creating content that makes it pleasant to choose your services over your competitors’. 

But how do you enforce authenticity via customer service?

  • Make sure that the support you offer is in sync with your brand’s image. 
  • Don’t peruse customer service clichés 
  • Don’t treat your customers like numbers in spreadsheets — they’re more than that. 
  • Be transparent and honest
  • Don’t fall behind regulations and rules 

Common Customer Service Mistakes

The final thing you should do is familiarize yourself with these 3 common mistakes: 

  • Ignoring negative feedback, and only focusing on the positives because they legitimize what you’re doing 
  • Becoming defensive and thinking that you didn’t need that customer anyway when they tell you things that run counter to your current way of thinking

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read how to take your customer service to the next level, you need to start working through the points above one by one. Don’t attempt to change everything at once as this will only confuse things. Work systematically, and always ask yourself whether the changes you’re making are in the best interests of your customers.

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