Make Yourself Available: How To Delight Your Customers
Since my line of work always has me getting to grips with a new hosting service or learning about a new Shopify or Wordpress add-on, I wind up dealing with a LOT of customer service teams. Some of those support teams are fantastic (nodding towards Shopify and Buffer here) – and some are, well, not so great (yeah, looking at you, Upwork). You may not be at the stage where you require a dedicated support team to handle all your customer enquiries for you, but that only makes it doubly important that you have a system in place for taking care of them yourself. No matter what type of business you run, you’ve got to show your customers and clients you care, and the first step towards doing that is making it easy for them to reach you when needed.
And this doesn’t have to be the inbox nightmare you might be imagining, with a barrage of calls and emails to wade through every day: a few simple systems can do the bulk of the work for you, ensuring your customers are happy, without having to sacrifice your sanity.
Make information easy to find
This first step is really the easiest thing you can do to start serving your customers, so if you don’t already have a FAQ page on your website, start considering one now. A lot of store owners, in particular, I’ve found often seem to consider this a low-priority extra for their website when really it should be at the top of their list once the products are in place. Think about it: the majority of your customers are likely to have the same set of questions, over and over again. Just because it may feel quicker to dash off an email than spend time writing copy for a new page, doesn’t mean you’re actually saving any time in the long run.
And your customers? Well, speaking from my own perspective, I always find it infinitely preferable to be able to skim through a FAQ to find what I’m looking for, than waste time writing yet another email and waiting for the response. Just saying. And at the very least, you need to make sure your business hours and contact information are clearly visible on your website, so customers and clients know how and when they can reach you.
Be more responsive
Now that you’ve reduced those enquiries to a minimum by answering FAQs on your website, it’s time to make sure that the remaining queries customers have get answered quickly. Unfortunately, this can be tricky when your inbox is already overflowing and it’s all too easy for those customer emails to get lost in the general chaos of communication. So you’re going to need a system in place to make sure those all-important emails get the priority treatment they deserve.
Step forward Freshdesk, a powerful customer service application that allows you to track requests and manage your responses all from a straightforward ticketing dashboard. Now your customer enquiries are all in one easy-to-manage place, all you have to do is set aside a particular time each day to go through them. You’ll see at a glance whether there any enquiries left unanswered, so you can instantly improve your responsiveness. Their free version allows you to have up to three customer service agents working within one account, with integrated phone support and the ability to create knowledge bases and FAQs, so you'll be able to offer top-notch customer support on par with some of the biggest brands out there.
Make time to talk
Sometimes, email just isn’t going to cut it, and your customers or clients are going to need a real live, face-to-face conversation with you, even if it is just over Skype. But just organising a time to talk can be ridiculously time-consuming, with countless back-and-forth emails over availability – and those emails just seem to double when you’re also accounting for different time zones.
So cut it out, because whenever you find a dull, repetitive task like this, you can pretty much guarantee there’s a robot out there who can do it for you. And there is! This one’s called Calendly, and it has literally been a lifesaver for me. Between discussing website projects and giving Google Analytics tutorials, I have at least one client call scheduled for almost every day of the week, and they easily extend of over about ten different time zones.
With Calendly, I simply set up a list of call times clients can choose from, and they can take their pick and book calls directly: simple! Even better, I can set up a custom form to gather necessary information like their email and Skype name, and they see all times in their own time zone, cutting out almost all those missed calls due to confusion over time differences.
Even if your call volume is a lot lower than mine, I still highly recommend giving Calendly’s free version a whirl: it takes like 10 minutes to set up and will literally save you hours of pointless emails.
Be available right when they need you
Now, this last step is definitely not going to work for everyone, and is probably not suited to service based businesses, when you have client work to be getting on with. But for product based businesses who really want to delight your customers (and of course, increase your sales at the same time!) then offering a live chat option is like the gold standard of customer service.
Not only is it the preferred method of communication by most of your customers, but being on hand to answer questions right when your customers are ready to buy from you means you remove a bunch of conversion barriers in one fell swoop. Customers have their queries answered instantly, and now they also know that they can reach you easily if they have any problems with their purchase.
And the best part is, it’s not as complicated as you might think to set up: LiveChat is a premium service starting at $16 per month, that will integrate easily with most websites (e.g. Shopify or WooCommerce). Naturally, if you do run into any issues during set up, then they have their own live chat service to help you out. Plus you can use custom reports in Google Analytics to narrow down the times when you receive the most website traffic, so you’re not wasting your time by offering a live chat service when there’s almost no one around to take advantage of it.
Implementing even just one of the above steps is a great start to making yourself available. And the best part is, once you start showing you care about them, your customers are much more likely to care about you in return.