Designing your business answering system is a critical component of creating an exceptional customer service experience. While it can appear as though exceptional customer service is a monolithic offering that serves every business equally, the reality is that it is the customers who should dictate the meaning of true customer service.
Whether your business offers services, products, or both, the type of customers you have are usually varied. It can be a mistake to lump them together based on their common needs as other factors such as the way they prefer to communicate can be equally or more important in creating an exceptional customer service experience.
As one example, Baby Boomers predominantly prefer to speak to a live person whether they are looking for a service or product. Millennials, on the other hand, are generally far more comfortable with technology and are more likely to interact with the business online rather than by phone. The place where these divisions overlap is with the ubiquitous smartphone. Customers across age groups have them, but may use them in different ways.
While some will see exceptional customer service by having their calls answered on the first ring by a live voice, others will use them to do searches, shop, and buy products and services online. The needs of these two distinct groups may intersect when the tech savvy group that prefers to shop online from a business has additional questions.
This is where they may need the assistance of a live agent via online live chat. Still, there are many within this group that would still prefer not to go the route of live voice chat and will want to type in their questions and have them answered. Behind the scenes, this still requires the support of a live agent to monitor these queries and type in the replies to the customer.
Businesses that supply services can provide another example of how creating an answering system based on customer preferences can vary depending on the customer and the service. Customer service, as it applies to emergency services of any kind, is almost always judged by the speed, knowledge, and helpfulness of a live person answering the phone.
Whether it is a patient emergency for a medical practice or a plumber’s customer emergency, customers like to know that they will be able to reach a professional. Some of these people will want the professional in question to call them back at a designated time while others will want to be transferred to someone immediately. Businesses must have protocols in place to determine the gravity of each customer’s needs, which align with protocols for reaching specific personnel to fulfill those needs. In some cases services that are minor emergencies can be best handled by allowing the person to leave a message, but only when the customized message provides clear indications of who will call them back and when.
For some emergency services, such as repair tickets from tenants for commercial or residential real estate properties, tenants’ preferences can be to speak to someone who makes appointments or to have an automated appointment system. Either way, information provided or taken by the system or live agent must be complete so that the emergency can be prioritized. This also speaks to how the resident prefers to communicate with the property owner.
One thing tying together these different customer types and their differing needs is that they all expect the experience to be seamless and simple. This requires a business, whether it is big with hundreds of employees or a small with one or two people, to understand its customers and how they differ.
Only then can they design a back-end system via a call center. The goal is to always address the needs of the customers while ensuring that all of the people in the business get a clear picture that does not allow a single customer to fall through the cracks. By communicating with the customer in the way that they prefer, small businesses can meet the customers’ expectations of what constitutes exceptional customer service.