For small business owners, choosing the right customer engagement solution has never been more important. And with so many new technologies and customer trends to keep track of as a business owner, it can be difficult to know which of your business investments is going to end up paying off in the long run.
In 2020, we faced many challenges and most of us needed a bit of extra empathy as we navigated a new way of being in the world and handling our day-to-day business. These unexpected challenges ended up contributing big time to a new customer service trend that is here to stay: responsive and empathetic customer service.
Facing obstacle after obstacle in 2020, customers started expecting (and even demanding) that businesses prioritize personal connections and quick responses. In fact, 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services – up from 80% in 2018.
Tip 1: Look for technology that helps improve empathy and responsiveness.
After everything people have been through in the last year, customers are now looking to do business with companies and people they feel safe with. Making sure your customer engagement solution allows you to be proactive in communication is one of the best ways to make people feel secure and safe doing business with a company.
Look for a customer service solution that includes phone support so people can simply pick up their phone and call to ask your team a question. With the pandemic, many businesses have noticed an uptick in phone calls as customers look to get answers about modified business hours and new safety protocols being put in place.
And with 90% of consumers rating an “immediate response” as important or very important when they have a customer service question, it becomes clear how vital it is for business owners to find a way to connect with customers in the moment they are actually reaching out. If a business can’t help them answer a question or solve a problem right away, most customers will call, web chat, or email the next business they find on the search results page.
Tip 2: Find personal ways to connect online.
In a 2020 report, 88% of people say they expect a personalized experience from businesses. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many business owners but the implications around this expectation have big effects on consumer behavior.
Before the pandemic, customers would walk-by store locations or drive themselves to a physical location to do business in-person. But with a huge move to online interactions business owners have had to shift business operations to their website. Which means business owners must invest in trying to recreate that feeling of doing business in-person where you could offer a warm and genuine connection with an easy smile.
Any customer engagement solution you choose will need to have built-in ways to help you and your team create that warm, personable connection that customers are craving these days.
Tip 3: Supporting yourself and your frontline staff.
Did you know that Google is now taking user experience into account as part of its SEO ranking algorithm? And with more customers wanting self-service options when they visit your website—having a chat option makes a lot of sense for business owners. But who can you rely on to be there 24/7 to answer the chat questions?
It’s also important that your customer engagement platform has documented and proven ways to show that your customers will be on the receiving end of genuine and helpful customer service when they call or chat with your company.
2020 was a tough year and as we’ve moved into 2021, it will be important for business owners to find ways to support their staff. Virtual receptionist services and live chat specialists can serve as a backup for your in-house team, or take over as your front line answering solution to leave your team available for other business operations.
Ian Golding of CCXP is a Global Customer Experience Specialist and recently said, “As we move into 2021, the employee experience has become as prominent as the customer experience. The way we treat our employees will reflect the way they treat our customers. In 2021, the companies that continue to put their people first are the ones who will succeed as the world recovers.”
This is exactly why so many small business owners are updating their websites to include a chat option and making certain their phone lines are answered consistently by someone dedicated to making the most out of each conversation.
Check out our 2021 Customer Engagement Report to learn more about how to prioritize personal connections with customers while ensuring your team has the support they need to deliver empathetic and proactive customer service.