Does Your Business Have a Technological Edge in Customer Service?

If your business wants to improve its customer service practices, then it’s time to take a technological approach.

From mobile outreach to social media, technology is helping businesses of all kinds take care of their customers’ needs.

Here are some of the ways your business can use technology to improve its customer service department:

Text Message Customer Service

With more and more customers carrying their mobile devices with them wherever they go, your customer service representatives could and should be just a text away.

By encouraging your customers to text their troubleshooting questions and product questions to your customer service team instead of calling, your business can handle more customers at once.

Handling increased customer support volume isn’t the only benefit of going the mobile route with your customer service.

Texting allows your service representatives to send links and trouble-shooting tutorials directly to your customers’ mobile devices, which is faster and more convenient than service calls.

Hosted PBX

Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) has been around for a while, but it isn’t until recently that the call technology has found its place in customer service.

As the following article looks at, hosted PBX can help your business provide quality customer service & gain a competitive edge through a number of customer support features.

With hosted PBX technology, your business can take advantage of auto attendant features that allow you to customize business hours and off-hours greetings.

You can also use auto attendant to transfer calls to a secondary device when you’re away from your desk – all of which improve customer service interactions.

Social Media and Customer Satisfaction

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t just for socializing anymore. In fact, a growing number of businesses are using their social accounts to field customer questions and your business can do the same.

For starters, your business can feature a customer service section on its Facebook page and a customer support hashtag through its Twitter account.

Likewise, your business can also take advantage of new technology that allows you to transfer a social customer service conversation to a phone call or a live chat on your website.

Speaking of Live Chatting…

If you’re looking for a fast and efficient way to connect to your customers, live chatting is the answer. By including a live chat icon on the pages of your website, you can make it easy for customers to reach out at any point during their visit.

This is an especially helpful feature in terms of customer support.

Not only does live chatting allow customers to quietly and privately interact with your business, your customer representatives are also able to send helpful links and save conversations for future reference.

Future of Customer Service

The customer service technology mentioned above is already in full force in businesses across the globe, but exciting advancements in customer service tech are still on the way.

Many electronics businesses are experimenting with product sensors that actually notify customer service representatives when a customer is struggling with a device.

Likewise, online retailers are testing drones as a way to deliver replacement products and parts to customers with troubleshooting issues.

If your business wants to improve its customer service practices, then it’s time to take advantage of the technology mentioned above.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including customer service and communications technology.

The Mobile Revolution is Your Business

Has your business joined the mobile revolution?

With insights specialist Nielsen pointing out that people spend more hours per week accessing the internet by smartphone than by PC, it’s clear that your customers are getting more mobile. That means that your business needs to get more mobile too.

What are some of the ways your business can join the revolution and stay competitive in our increasingly mobile world?

Here are five places to start:

Use Mobile and Multi-Channel Marketing

business-hand-pointing-ipad-10064591If your customers are getting increasingly mobile, it makes sense to reach them in a mobile friendly way. Build your marketing strategy around the mobile revolution and you’ll keep your business at your customers’ fingertips – literally.

Mobile marketing can include using mobile friendly vehicles such as social media or apps (more on those in a moment), and can also include text message marketing or QR codes.

Multi-channel marketing can help you make the most of mobile.

For example, if you have printed material, include a QR code that links to a mobile-friendly site. Or use your social media profiles to promote your SMS marketing list.

Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly

Making sure your site is mobile friendly is vital.

If your website is hard to navigate, or doesn’t display properly on a mobile device, you risk losing customers. They’ll go to a site that suits their browsing device of choice, and you’ll lose the sale.

The article “5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Join the Mobile Revolution” suggests accessing your site on a mobile device so you can see for yourself how easy it is to navigate.

Leave no stone unturned – every aspect of your site should be as user friendly on mobile as it is anywhere else.

Build or Buy an App

Apps are popular with consumers.

Your customers are already accessing their favorite businesses and brands using mobile apps – it’s time to make sure they can access yours.

Apps place your business front and center stage, keeping your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds. They provide a quick and easy way to connect with your business at the touch of a screen.

The key to success with apps is to ensure they offer your customers real value.

Ask yourself what they will get from using your app? What makes it preferable to using your mobile site?

Use Mobile for Exclusive Offers

If you want to boost customer engagement with your mobile marketing, give them a reason to go mobile with you.

Try offering exclusive offers to mobile subscribers, such as time limited deals, free gifts, or entry into a sweepstake. Offering incentives will keep customers engaged with your mobile campaigns.

You can also use a mobile app to send customers money off coupons or exclusive deals, encouraging them to download and use your app.

Embrace Social Media

Social media is a mobile-friendly medium that is quick and easy to browse on the go. That makes it a vital part of any mobile strategy.

Keep your social media profiles interesting with well thought out content, offers, and opportunities for customers to engage with you.

Join in the conversation and make social media a place to build a rapport with your brand, whether at home, at work or on the go.

Use social media to promote your mobile subscriber list, and alert your mobile subscribers to exciting social media content to encourage customers to follow, like, share and subscribe.

Joining the mobile revolution keeps your business competitive and ensures you can reach your customers wherever they are.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on a range of topics including social media, SEO that works, and how to use mobile to benefit your business.

Is Your Business Focus Dialed-in?

Running a business (small, mid-size, large) comes with myriad of responsibilities.

For starters, you have to have enough funds available so that you can survive a rainy day or two. Assuming you had to come up with a business loan or find investors to get your company started in the first place, you might already be behind the eight-ball.

Secondly, hiring and retaining the brightest and most dedicated employees is far from an exact science. In a day and age when many workers come and go, getting the best and keeping them is far from easy.

Another important facet to starting and running a successful company is making sure you’re spending money wisely. That includes everything from office supplies to utilities to rent for office space and much more.

See, running a company does come with a ton of responsibilities, but with the right business strategy on how to do things; success doesn’t have to be an unattainable goal.

business-strategy-shows-plan-thinking-or-planning-100213476Know Where the Savings Are

For you to succeed in today’s business world, the financial component of your business is something you need to strategize over time and time again.

Face it; if your business strategy isn’t really worth much if your company is bleeding in the red more times than not. Know where you’re spending money, understand where you can save some money, and then make sure you’re on top of both areas.

In order to better save money, remember to look at:

  • Supply and demand – Vendors know that basic financial principles revolve around supply and demand. If there is little demand for their products, they are more apt to lower the prices in order to see an uptick in sales. When there is high demand, they can pretty much charge what they want, knowing you and other businesses need XYZ product or service to do your business. Look for deals and buy in bulk (see more below);
  • Office communications – When you are in need of upgrades or changing providers for your various office communication needs such as phones, Internet, and utilities etc., make sure you shop around for not only the best product or service, but the best price. As a consumer outside of work, you likely shop for the best deals in home phone service, be it Vonage plans or others, the top cable plans for your entertainment needs, the number one Internet provider and so on. Do the same when running a business. Given how important office communications are to the success of your company, don’t automatically go for the cheapest plan out there, something that could ultimately cost you more money if you lose customers;
  • Acquiring and retaining talent – Whether you have one employee, 100 employees or 1,000 or more, you don’t want your company to become a business with a revolving front door. Remember that mention of investors a little early? Stop for a moment and think if you were an investor in a company where employees are coming and going non-stop. Would you ultimately feel safe with your money tied up in a situation such as that? Your workers are the bread and butter of your organization, so treat them as such. Incentives like pay raises for validated work, good healthcare benefits, the opportunity to further their educations while under your employment etc. are great tools with which to keep employees happy and with you for years to come.

The strategy to running and maintaining a winning business model for years to come is not as hard as some might make it out to be.

Review your business model periodically to see where the money is coming from, where it is going, and ultimately if it is being spent wisely.

When you do that, you can dial-in to a winning formula.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author: Dave Thomas writes for a variety of websites on topics such as marketing and small business.

Why You Need An Awesome System

Without a system in place you won’t operate efficiently. Your employees will not know what to do and decisions won’t be based on expertise and capability.

Instead, decisions will be more reactive (rather than proactive) to any given situation. And this can be a recipe for disaster. It can lead to budget overruns, poor management, lack of proper forecasting and more.

Here is what you need in order to ensure your business has an awesome system in place:

  • You need to embrace technology. Unless you live in the dark ages, a lot of business takes place using technology. From email communication between your sales team and the customer, to mobile marketing, technology is something you can’t hide from, nor should you shy away from. And with a good team in place that knows technology and stays on top of what is going on, you can make sure you don’t fall behind.

 

  • Another important business practice to instill in your overall business plan, as well as in all employees’ minds, is the importance of security. No matter what your business sells, you have data you work with. And that data should be treated like gold.

 

  • Analyze what you have in place. How you do things. What your current process is – what works and what seems a little clunky. When you have a great system in place, you still need some analysis done from time to time to make sure all is going smoothly. In fact, the better the system, the easier it is to identify problems, because the problems will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

 

  • With an awesome system, customer service excellence is made simpler because you have the ability to empower your customer service team to resolve issues and handle things on the fly. When you’re dealing with fast paced e-commerce, decisions need to be made quickly. And within an awesome system, your customer service team knows what to do to keep customers happy.

 

  • An awesome system makes it a more seamless transition when you integrate the right software. Sure, you don’t want just “any” software for your business. You need software that has all the tools to help you run your business competently. But when your business is run on sound and smart business practices, introducing this software into the mix (and upgrading it as needed) is less of a hassle and more of a huge bonus. You’ve added greatness to your awesome system and it will reflect in your whole organization.

 

    • An awesome system also benefits from happy employees. When things run smoothly and work is a “known” (versus some sort of haphazard, “What am I coming into work to find today?” situation), you will reap the benefits of a happy, energized and motivated team who work together to keep that awesome system working like clockwork. To do this, you need to invest in training for all your employees and you need to create an atmosphere where people want to work and do well.

 

There are a lot of moving parts involved in having an awesome system in place. You need the business philosophies, the policies and procedures…but the right tools (like an awesome software program) and a positive atmosphere work together to make the business run like clockwork.

Make A Good Name For Yourself

I recently heard an ad on the radio for a company that was promising to improve your online reputation if you’ve been damaged by “misleading or negative bloggers.” This ad really infuriated me because, quite frankly, a business’s online reputation wouldn’t be “damaged” if there was absolutely no truth to the reviews.

That’s not to say that people don’t have bad experiences; no matter how good you are, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. How you deal with those unhappy reviewers can make the difference between a great online reputation and a bad one. No need to hire a company to falsely load up review sites with fake reviews or to flag negative reviews as “spam” when they’re not; all it takes is the willingness to make it right and make your reviewers happy.

Social media has made it extremely easy for people to post their reviews, thoughts and photos with the world. Between Facebook, Yelp, Google and the numerous travel sites, a guest can post their review from their phone, tablet, or computer at their convenience. Many feel that they shouldn’t waste their time at a hotel, restaurant or store if other reviewers overwhelmingly have said “don’t go.” As a business owner or manager, you should take the time to read all of the reviews of your business on a semi-weekly basis and reply to them.

Good review? That’s an easy reply: “Shawn, we really appreciate you coming in! Glad to hear you had a great experience and we hope to see you again soon.” Or if they pointed out something they loved and you can use it as an up-sell, go for it: “Shawn, thanks for coming to stay with us! Glad you loved those towels; they’re available for purchase on our website www.acmehotel.com”

Now for those that leave negative reviews, you must be willing to not only read their criticism without taking it personally, but also to immediately rectify the situation. When someone leaves a negative review, they’re not doing it to personally attack you. They had a bad experience; it was clearly not rectified while they were there, so they feel the need to vent.

Read their comments very carefully and then respond in detail. Address them by name (or username) and tell them who you are, apologize and end with a positive. As an example: “Steve, my name is Dave and I am the owner of Acme Hotel. I’m so sorry to hear you had a bad experience and I’d like to make it right” Follow this by going through, in detail, their complaint and how you’re going to make it better for the future.

If they complained that the room wasn’t clean, explain that you’re going to work with the housekeeping department to institute new protocols and in the future, guests are always encouraged to contact the front desk if they’d like a new room. If the complaint is about a price change in a restaurant, explain your reasoning for the pricing increase. Perhaps it’s weather related or you wanted a better quality meat for the guests.

Also, be sure to give them contact information for you so that they can call or email you to discuss this further. When you speak, offer them something to make it right; a free night stay, dinner for two, a bottle of wine, etc and ask them that if this experience is better than their last, they leave a new review.

It takes work, but these are the people putting the money in your pockets so listening to their cheers and jeers can help you and your employees become better at what you do. Don’t take it personally, but make it a personal mission to make your customers happy.
Learn more about Donna, our VP of Marketing – and be sure to catch her at AMSP Mid-Winter.