by Parker Davis
Customer service is changing the way we do business. Instead of sales personnel, companies hire experts to educate and guide consumers towards making informed decisions. Customer service is becoming proactive, instead of reactive, and data analysis is used to predict consumer trends and develop new features. With increasing brand visibility from social media and digital marketing, there has never been a more important time to understand the return on investment from a one-of-a-kind customer experience.
What Customer Service Includes
Positive customer relationships are a pillar behind every successful business, and it’s grown beyond the “complaint line” to include educational material, interactive AI bots, and real-time response to customer demand. As an industry, customer support channels have evolved to include live chat, email support, scheduled phone calls, video tutorials, screensharing, and live webinars. And with good reason: great service is deeply integrated into the brand promise behind marketing, business development, and customer retention. But automation can only take us so far.
“Selling and buying is a human activity that goes beyond the transactional. It’s an emotional exchange that can trigger fear, doubt, anxiety or worry just as much as it can produce excitement, joy, hope and possibility. Unless computers are programmed with human qualities like empathy, understanding and creativity, it’s hard to imagine real-life sales professionals will ever become extinct.” – Ian Altman
Despite changing technology, customer service requires a distinctively human touch. Purchases require trust in a brand’s ability to deliver on a promise, and interactions full of empathy, concern, and a genuine desire to help another human being can’t be replicated by computers or technology. Customer service requires creative problem solving and emotional intelligence to handle new problems with flexibility and care.
The Cost of Poor Customer Service
Last year, American businesses lost upwards of $20 billion dollars in revenue from poor customer service. And where did those customers go? According to one survey, over 51% of respondents reported taking their business elsewhere as the result of poor customer service. Furthermore, increased brand visibility through reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google Maps, and the Better Business Bureau could mean the end of the road for companies that aren’t willing to address customer concerns.
The Benefit of a Great Customer Experience
Modern customer service is concerned with the overall user experience, from awareness to purchase, with every contact point in between equally important to the customer and brand. Improvements in customer service can generate new leads, optimize conversion rates, increase average order value, and develop long lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial for companies and consumers. Acquiring a new customer is seven times more expensive than keeping an existing one, great customer service has a clear relationship with profit margins and sales revenue.
The Bottom Line
How would you feel if there was one single, specific department that could simultaneously cut costs, increase revenue, and grow your business? We’ve talked about the relationship between customer service, repeat business, and more efficient revenue generation (without paying for leads from advertising and marketing), but what can business owners expect from investing in customer service?
More sales. Better retention. And improved research and development. The last one’s the kicker. Why? Dedicating time to customer service will reveal customer pain points and desires that you can incorporate into product management. In a world where technological barriers to entry are minimal and new startups enter the market every day, product development is crucial to success, and customer interactions are prime opportunities to gauge demand for new features or services.
Where Do I Begin?
If you have a current customer service team, make sure you’re achieving the highest return on investment possible by encouraging continual education on industry best practices and empowering them with positive leadership. If you’re a small business owner managing most of the customer support on your own or with a small team, it may be time to look for extra help. A virtual receptionist can help provide a human element to the sales journey and be there to pick up customer phone calls for support and guidance.
Learn more about hiring a virtual receptionist from Answer 1!
Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology enabled answering services industry. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. In 2016, Answer 1 achieved record revenues while also being awarded the Top Companies to Work For in Arizona award. Parker is also the Managing Partner of Annison Capital Partners, LLC, a private investment partnership.