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August 18th 2021

Customer service in a digital world

As commerce has moved online, customer service has had to evolve.

Some of the best businesses used to stand out with their attention to detail, personal touch and ties with people in the community. With the increasing shift to online business models, customer service has shifted to live chat, social media and 24/7 email helpdesks.

Customer service has always been about connecting with people. Listening to your customers is still key, it’s just that customers want to engage with businesses on social media or via instant messaging. Invest some time in researching which social media platforms or messaging apps are used by your customers. Twitter or WhatsApp may not be your thing but if your customers are there, you need to be there too.

Avoid standard automated email replies. Customers who buy online are more tech savvy than ever before and they really value personal, meaningful interactions. Try to respond to their messages or emails on the same day or at least within 24 hours. Putting an extra effort into your customer interactions will go a long way and will help you to build trust.

Demographics are shifting – Millennial and Generation Z customers now outnumber Baby Boomers. Millennials and Generation Z want self-service options, speed of service and a platform that uses mobile devices and social media. In their view, a customer service model that requires going to a shop or speaking with someone on the phone between certain hours of the day is clunky and old fashioned.

As such, automation is more important than ever before - whether that is through the use of chat bots, AI or online customer service agents who operate across different time zones, in order to cover more hours of the day. The good news for small and medium sized businesses is that a lot of these customer service functions can be outsourced to third party providers.

Try to put yourself in your customers shoes. Spend a day as a customer of your firm. Try dialling the helpline - do you end up on hold or in an endless cycle of options and menus? What happens if you email the firm with a query - do you get a helpful response within 24 hours? Try to complete a purchase online or on the phone and note any sticking points that you could try to improve in your sales process.

The shift to doing business online, coupled with changes in consumer expectations have moved the bar in terms of what good customer service looks like. The best way to adapt your customer service model for a digital world is to try it out for yourself and keep looking for ways to improve.

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