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Top 9 Customer Service Trends You Must Know in 2021 [Updated]

In 2020, due to the pandemic, customers and businesses are working from home. They are considering ways to change their lifestyles to support their work-from-home lifestyle. This may lead them to your business as a possible and comfortable solution. If that is the case, then you need to up your customer service game to support all types of customer queries. Here are some important customer service trends to keep in mind this year.

9 Top Customer Service Trends in 2021

Ensuring your customer service and support efforts are always top-notch is important to maintaining customer satisfaction and retention. If your teams don’t do their best, then it becomes easy to lose valuable customers. Therefore, you must check your customer service strategies and tools every year to see where and how you can improve.

So, if you are looking to upgrade your customer service and stay of the game, here are the top 9 customer service trends to keep in mind.

1. Offer Multimodal Communication

If you are only responding to phone calls and emails, then you are way behind the game. Most companies are adopting multi-channel communication tools so they can assist customers no matter how they choose to reach out. This includes live chat, trouble tickets, text messaging, video conferencing, social media messaging, and more.

2. Become Mobile-Friendly

Most potential customers will find your business through their smartphones. This may occur due to a targeted ad that pops up on their social media or they do a quick mobile search for services like yours. For this reason, you want to make your website and reaching your customer support team easy for mobile users. Consider optimizing your website for mobile-view and adding click-to-call buttons that allow users to call instantly from their phones. You may also want to add easy-to-fill forms on the website for customers who want to send a quick message or email.

3. Include More AI and Automation

Use office automation to streamline processes and save time spent on simple, mundane tasks. Project management systems that automate tasks and enable file-sharing are essential for keeping offices well-connected and functioning seamlessly. Well-designed CRMs or customer information storage systems, IVR systems, chatbots, etc., are some additional ways to incorporate AI and automation in the office.

4. Be Active on Social Media

Having social media accounts is a must in this day and age. Not only does it give you the opportunity to market and target a different demographic, but it also gives you the ability to advertise and run social media campaigns. These campaigns can help bring new customers to your business while also adding another quick customer service tool. Be active on your social accounts, educate customers about products and services, and respond regularly to comments and messages.

5. Offer 24/7 and Real-Time Support

Besides offering various channels for customer support, you also want to provide 24/7 and real-time support. Consider live chat and chatbots to answer common customer queries, solve problems quickly, offer product/service descriptions, and guide them to completing a purchase. A phone equivalent of live chat is your IVR system. You can design the IVR to offer 24/7 service with troubleshooting support and self-service options. This way, callers can get assistance even after hours or on the weekends.

Related: 9 Best Customer Service Examples for 2020

6. Invest in Easy-to-Use Software

Provide your team with simple and user-friendly software. Complicated software takes longer to learn and has more room for error. If your team is spending more time navigating through the software, that is less time spent on providing excellent customer service. Research and find easy and more efficient solutions for your business phone system, CRMs, and project management tools.

7. Offer Work-from-Home Opportunities

One of the most important customer service trends this year is remote work. Working from home is growing more and more popular because it accommodates productivity. And your customer service team may want the option to work remotely, possibly until the end of the year. Prepare for this by considering call forwarding that can keep your remote workers and teams connected without increasing your monthly business communication bill.

8. Consider Video Streaming

A new development in customer service trends is the inclusion of video streaming and conferencing. Video is a useful form of communication and should be incorporated as much as possible in sales, marketing, and customer service. You can use videos for product descriptions, service education, launching new items, and more.

9. Personalize and Customize for Each Customer

Finally, continue to personalize your services for your customer. Stock emails and responses can easily disenchant prospects. Based on their search and purchase history, offer personalized offers or discounts, rewards, and recommendations that mean something to them.

Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2021

Improve Customer Service Today!

All of these trends may not be applicable to your business. However, identify the ones that do and make an attempt to include them effectively and creatively so your business can care for their customers better. Happy customers lead to a happy business, after all!

6 Ways Customer Service Expectations Have Changed for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way companies conduct business as well as the way customers interact and purchase from these companies. As such, customer service expectations have changed for 2021 with more customers expecting high-quality support, personalized care, multiple communication channels, and more.

Customer Service Expectations in 2021

Customers switched to online shopping in 2020. However, this is not limited to just purchasing but also in terms of having conversations with businesses through video conferencing and emails. Many businesses had to transform their sales pitches and customer support to fit video screens, social media posts, and email marketing. And these businesses had to try harder to improve overall customer experience: from finding the business website online to offering easy customer support options.

So, how have customer service expectations changed since 2020, and what are the most common customer service expectations in 2021? Let’s have a look.

1. Offer Higher-Quality Support

The pandemic led to businesses and their customer support teams finding new ways to connect with customers. However, customer service expectations rose to new heights. According to a 2020 Hiver survey focused on customer support expectations in 2020, 80% of consumers expect better and more empathetic support.

More and more customers are shopping online and expect to continue to do so. This means businesses need to develop their websites and e-commerce platforms to prepare for higher volumes of online traffic and movement. Customers will expect quick responses, easy navigation, and high-quality products. Some ways to improve your customer service include:

  • Updating website content to be more relevant and informative.
  • Create mobile-friendly webpages that load quickly.
  • Convenient online purchasing and order-placing abilities.
  • Better business phone system with advanced features such as call forwarding, routing, cloud IVR systems, call recording, and so on. These features can help with better call management and improve quality assurance.
  • Offering multiple channels of communication such as live chat, email, video conferencing, etc. You may even consider a chatbot for common FAQs and troubleshooting where customers don’t need to get in touch with a rep.

2. More Personalized Care

Customers are also looking for personalized care. Here is where a customer-centric strategy comes into place. Customer experience (CX) is highly significant with respect to business growth. If your customers are unhappy and don’t feel valued, they won’t hesitate to leave.

Personalization or customization means tailoring customer experiences to make them more relevant and useful to their particular situations. This means:

  • Paying attention to their profile and their past purchases and interactions
  • Offering recommendations based on past purchases
  • Understanding their needs and goals
  • Visualizing their goals through customer journey mapping
  • Offering customized solutions

Improving customer service and providing personalized care is as simple as knowing your customer and understanding what they need. Then, making your products and their interaction with it more relevant and personal.

3. More Modes of Contact

Since in-person contact was reduced during the pandemic, businesses had to get creative and find new ways to stay connected with their customers. For many businesses, this meant:

  • Updating website content
  • Creating support and knowledge bases for self-support
  • Staying active on email, chat, and social media channels
  • Considering automation tools such as chatbots and automated IVR phone systems

And so, customers expect to contact a business through the channel they prefer. The Hiver survey suggests that:
Gen Z customers and millennials prefer email and chat options more than phone conversations.
Baby boomer customers prefer phone conversations over others.

If your business supports all generations of customers, then you need to cater to their preferences and behaviors.

customer service

4. Focus on Empathy

According to a survey conducted by Hiver, 34% of customers state that customer support needs to be more responsive and empathetic. And this does not mean during the pandemic exclusively. Customers expect more empathetic and quick responses as everyone is dealing with a global issue. In fact, research has found that millennials and Gen Z customers are more likely to connect with businesses that offer empathic support.

So what does a more empathetic customer service approach look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Try to see the problem from their perspective.
  • Allow them to express themselves and their concerns and frustrations without interrupting.
  • Pay attention to your own biases and actively work on them.
  • Maintain positivity.
  • Respect your customer and don’t treat them like another number.
  • Gather and learn from feedback (peers, customers, mentors).

Striving to be more empathetic in your customer interactions can help you develop strong relationships and find better ways to help them. This, in turn, leads to greater customer satisfaction.

5. Pay Attention and Understand Them Better

Similar to the need for empathy, customers expect to be paid attention to, listened to, and cared for. Customers know what all businesses do to track their preferences and capitalize on them — such as targeted ads, personal recommendations, and so on. As such, they expect that businesses have the information to know what they like, prefer, and need. And so, when businesses don’t, customers are typically left disappointed and frustrated.

So, what can you do to work better with your customer? Listen to them carefully and do not make their issue seem small or irrelevant. The Hiver survey found out that 23% of customers will claim good customer support if they don’t have to explain their issue over and over again. Don’t make them repeat their concerns and issues or transfer them to multiple reps and employees.

Paying attention to them and repeating their concerns to confirm them can go a long way in reducing customers’ frustrations and increasing appreciation.

6. Be Clear and Follow-Up

Lastly, be clear in your communication and avoid vague and confusing phrases. Customers appreciate clear communication without any hidden agendas. This is one of the top customer service expectations. They expect honesty and clarity. If, as a customer service rep, you do not know the answer to a query, tell them that you will follow-up. And make sure you follow-up soon.

Meet Customer Service Expectations with Virtual Communication

We, at Global Call Forwarding, can get you set up with a robust virtual phone system that can help you become more accessible to customers, no matter the location. Call us today at 1 (888) 908 6171 to find out more about international call forwarding and other communication tools.

23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2021 [Updated]

Providing good customer service is key to the successful running of any business. Customers are what drives a business and therefore if you are not focusing on providing excellent service, then your company is more likely to lose valuable customers. Here are 23 incredible customer service tips that can boost your customer interactions in 2021.

23 Customer Service Tips You Must Use in 2021

The following customer service tips have been used by various businesses across the globe. While not all of them may apply to your company, it is a good idea to experiment with these tips and adapt them to fit your mission.

1. Treat Customers Well

Remember that customers are important for the proper and successful functioning of your business. And so, you want to make sure your employees and agents treat your customers like gold. When interacting with customers, employees should be empathic and take time to pay attention to the customer and their concerns. Interactions should be transparent with no hidden agendas or fine print. Offering personalized service and care can go a long way.

2. Use Positive Language and Attitude

A positive attitude and the use of reinforcing words can lead to good interactions and higher resolution rates. A dull sounding customer service rep that simply sticks to the script and fails to engage the caller or make them feel heard can lead to losing a valued customer instead of retaining them. Avoid taking things personally or arguing. Instead, remember the larger picture and the company’s goals.

3. Address Issues Immediately

Most customers are calling to resolve an issue they are dealing with and most often they want to do that urgently. Therefore, agents and employees should be equipped to address their concerns immediately. Help callers get to the right department soon, instead of being bounced around. This way, they are closer to a resolution. Additionally, provide your employees with the tools they need to quickly assist callers with the most common complaints and issues. This may require market research to understand what your product or service’s most common issue is, or the reason why customers call most often.

4. Personalize and Customize

Personal touch is the key to good customer service. When talking to customers, remember their name and their case or history with the company. Use their name throughout the conversation. Demonstrate that you are paying attention to what they are saying. When following up, ask when they are available instead of giving them a set time. And so on. It’s the little things that matter.

5. Improve First Call Resolution Rates

This goes along with addressing customer concerns immediately. First call resolution rates measure the number of calls resolved on the first call itself. A higher FCR indicates good customer service and improved customer satisfaction. Identify areas that need improvement and train your employees so they can resolve concerns quickly or, at the latest, in a follow-up email or call.

6. Consider Self-Service Options

One of the 2021 top customer service tips is providing more self-service options to customers. Customers are growing more tech-savvy and prefer if they can do things themselves rather than wait on a person to help them out. See if your business can provide such tools, either through a modern IVR system or a knowledge-base with support and troubleshooting content, etc. This way, customers can help themselves and can reach out to your business if an issue is more complicated.

7. Provide Multi-Channel Customer Support

It is no surprise: not every customer likes making phone calls. This is where multi-channel support comes in very handy. Most companies currently offer a variety of ways for prospects and clients to get in touch with them:

  • Toll free numbers: for free calling
  • Local numbers: for inexpensive calling
  • Email: with 1-2 day response times
  • SMS / instant messaging: with quick response times, preferably within the day
  • Live chat: with live agents, monitored 24/7
  • IVR within the phone system: which can provide 24/7 support and self-service options
  • Mail: for those who prefer and need it
  • In-person meetings: for local offices

8. Offer 24/7 Customer Service

If possible, try to offer 24/7 customer support that includes after-hours and weekends. You can do so by hiring off-hours or remote agents and have incoming calls forwarded to them through your IVR system.

Another indirect way to provide 24/7 service is through an informative IVR that can assist with account information, register complaints, process payments, offer troubleshooting help, etc. You can also have an online knowledge-base with “help” articles that can walk users through common issues and how to resolve them.

9. Consider Automation

Another one of the top customer service tips this year is adopting automation to provide support. An automated IVR system and chatbots are two ways you can cut down on agent workload while still assisting those in need. Automation can help with simple and common issues, provide 24/7 customer support, reduce the number of support tickets submitted, collect customer information and add it to their history, and free employees up to handle more complex issues.

These systems should, however, always have an option to connect to a live representative in case the user is unable to resolve their concern.

10. Pay Attention to Customer Satisfaction Scores

It is also important to measure and improve CSAT scores. This is because these scores directly impact your business’ customer retention rates. That is, they measure your business’ ability to maintain customer loyalty and long-term relationships with their customers. Bad interactions and experiences will deter customers away from your brand. It is, therefore, necessary to pay attention to customer satisfaction by collecting feedback and opinions. Utilize email or live chat to collect feedback about specific products, services, or interactions.

11. Focus Efforts on Marketing and Reputation Management

Use effective marketing strategies to showcase your brand’s values and mission. Demonstrate your team’s expertise, highlight important and valuable customer reviews, and so on. Marketing is a good way to maintain your business’ credibility and reputation. You can also choose to run active social media accounts where you interact with customers and interested prospects, answer their queries, run promotions, and so on. This is a good way to improve customer interaction.

12. Humanize Customer-Business Interactions

While automation can make business processes easy and efficient, you want to keep automation to a minimum and only if necessary during customer-business interactions. For example, a caller should not have to jump through various hoops to get in touch with a live representative. A struggling caller will end up being frustrated if the automated service does not help resolve their concern. And you may lose a valuable client this way.

Some issues and interactions should be conducted with a human as opposed to bots. When mapping out your IVR or chatbot application, always have an “out” available for callers who need to interact with an employee.

13. Evaluate Team Productivity and KPIs

One of the most important customer service tips is to consistently measure your team’s productivity through key performance indicators (KPIs). Some of the common customer service KPIs are:

  • Average response time
  • Average handle time
  • First call resolution rate
  • Average resolution time
  • Customer satisfaction rate (CSAT)
  • Number of calls
  • Number of interactions across different channels (chat, support tickets, emails, etc.)
  • Abandon call/chat rate
  • Net promoter score (NPS), and so on

14. Be Proactive: Reach Out to Customers Before They Have to Reach You

Depending on the service you provide, you may find it useful to be proactive in your customer interactions. Be the first one to reach out and check in with repeat customers. Is there anything else you can help with? Follow-up on recent purchases to make sure everything went well. Ask for feedback and how the service can be improved. Such interactions will show your customers that their opinions and business are valued.

15. Give Importance and Priority to Customer Complaints

Prioritize customer complaints as these are the experiences that can quickly turn bad and sour. Identify the problem and find ways to fix them quickly. If the issue seems to be a common one across a particular model, then improve it before the next batch is out. And reach out to customers who have purchased the model to inform them about the issue and its fix. Additionally, check in with customers regularly and collect feedback to learn how to make processes smoother or how to make the product better.

16. Collect Feedback Regularly

Use surveys either via email or text messages to study how customers are interacting with products and services you offer. It is important to see things from the customers’ perspectives. And feedback is the best way to do so. Whether it is about a certain product or their recent customer service call, it is important to always look for ways to make your service better.

17. Provide Your Team with the Right Tools

Provide your customer service agents and employees with the right tools to offer good and efficient service. Use CRMs to keep track of customer information, history, interactions, and more. This way, your agents are prepared to offer support that is personalized and customized instead of generic. We recommend Zoho or Salesforce, but there are plenty of great options for keeping track of your customers.

You may also consider investing in call recording software and forwarding tools. Recordings can be used to conduct performance reviews, training new employees, protecting against liabilities, reducing errors and misunderstandings, and more. Call forwarding and routing can help distribute calls evenly among employees so that no one employee is over- or under-worked.

18. Train and Re-Train Employees and Agents

Keep training new and current employees by providing refresher training, past recordings to highlight strengths and weaknesses, webinars and workshops, and more. When training employees, it is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the goals of the company.

19. Invest in Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs will help you retain valuable customers and their businesses. These programs are designed to do so by providing rewards to customers who continue to bring your business. Offer deals, promotions, and special offers to members of your loyalty program to retain a steady flow of sales.

20. Follow Up When You Do Not Have the Answer

Most customer service teams are expected to have an answer ready for any query or concern brought up. However, oftentimes, you may find yourself in a situation where different troubleshooting methods or common answers do not suffice. In such cases, you may need the assistance of a supervisor or manager. Follow-up with these customers as quickly as you can with better solutions or transfer them to someone who can help. Not doing so leads to the client seeking a better service elsewhere.

21. Be Consistent Across All Communication Channels

Two of the most common customer service tips are having multi-channel communication and being consistent in all channels. Ensure that all customer service reps are aware of the goals, mission, and voice of your brand. Train them to use these different channels (email, phone, live chat, social media, etc.) with ease and keeping with the support process. This will help with consistency across different communication channels.

22. Offer Premium Support to Loyal Clientele

Just how loyalty programs can help you retain good customers, offering premium support and prioritizing loyal and valuable customers can also increase customer satisfaction and retention rates.

23. Share Customer-Focused Content

Keep your website and social media accounts up-to-date by providing relevant and informative content. This content should not only focus on your services but how customers can benefit from these services. You may include customer reviews, case studies, and testimonials to see how your product or service ranks with customers.

Give These Customer Service Tips a Try!

Happy customers will give your agents peace of mind so they can focus on what matters. While not all of these tips may apply to your type of business, try the ones that do and modify them to your needs. To learn more about telecommunication tools that can support your customer service efforts, speak with one of our experts!

6 Ways to Automate Customer Service in 2021

Automating business processing is the best thing that has happened to companies struggling with completing projects and conducting professional customer service. Use virtual communication tools to automate customer service in 2021 and create a stronger, more reliable business communication system.

Why You Should Automate Customer Service in 2021

First, what is customer service automation? Automated customer support refers to using automation to reduce the need for employee or agent involvement to complete simple, mundane tasks when offering assistance and support to customers.

Now, this does not mean that you won’t need any employees at all. Customer service automation isn’t necessarily a robots-taking-our-jobs situation. The only aspects of customer service to automate are the simple, repetitive tasks that take up agent time. Time which can be spent better helping a customer.

The reason to automate customer service in 2021 is to ensure that:

  • Customers are sent to the right department or employee
  • Calls are routed effectively so no calls are missed
  • Customers have multiple ways of connecting with your business (email, live chat, chatbots, trouble tickets, voicemail, etc.)
  • And that customers receive assistance and responses even when employees are busy

By automating your support channels, agents and employees are better prepared and freed to assist callers. Let’s look at the best customer service tips for using automation to boost the way your business interacts with its customers:

1. Call Forwarding & Routing Strategies

For businesses with multiple departments and offices spread geographically, it can be hard to ensure callers reach the right department or employee immediately. And the last thing you want is for a customer to be bounced from one user to the next. With call forwarding, you can automate calls to route directly to the right department based on a variety of rules you set. So, how can you use call forwarding to automate customer service?

Time-based routing routes calls based on the time of the call. This ensures that when one of your offices closes for the day, calls are routed to another satellite office or your outsourcing company to maintain continuity.

Location-based routing forwards calls based on the location of the caller. Multinational and international companies find this feature most useful. They call route calls from their main location to offices in various locations or remote agents based on where the caller is situated. This ensures the caller receives assistance in their language and time zone.

Skill-based routing forwards calls based on the skill needed by the caller. By utilizing an interactive voice response (IVR), the caller can specify their preference such as a specific language or department required. The call is then automatically sent to the agent with the aforementioned skill.

Call forwarding enables better call management ensuring that callers reach the right destination and get assistance efficiently. Good call management results in good first call resolution rates.

2. Simultaneous Ringing

Another form of call forwarding is Simultaneous Ringing which enables incoming calls to ring multiple phones with one number. This means that an incoming call is forwarded to every sales or customer service member in your entire office (satellite offices and remote agents included). This ensures that during a period of high call traffic, whichever employee is next available can answer the call quickly.

You can create a ring group to include different departments such as your main office’s customer support team, remote workers, and your BPO. This ring group can be adjusted from time to time to add or remove users as needed.

3. Automated Communications

Next, you may consider using other automated communication tools such as cloud IVR and chatbots. These automation tools can provide customer support and assistance even when employees are not on duty (i.e., off-hours or the weekend).

Cloud IVR provides a caller with menu options such as “Press 1 for ___, Press 2 for ___.” Then, depending on the caller’s requirement, the IVR offers more options or assistance. Most cloud IVR systems are able to help with simple tasks that don’t require the help of an agent. The same goes for chatbots available on your website’s ‘chat with us’ option. Chatbots also provide customer support by assisting web visitors in basic tasks. These tasks include:

  • Identifying or verifying the user or the account
  • Activating an account
  • Providing balance information (remaining balance and when it is due)
  • Processing payments
  • Renewing subscriptions
  • Sending the call to voicemail
  • Creating an issue or case ID and registering it within the system for the next available agent to view
  • Offering company information or product/service description

As such, you can use IVR and chatbot automation to offer customer support when agents are busy or off-duty. This way, users and interested customers continue to receive help during the times most convenient for them.

4. Voicemail and Fax to Email

Additional aspects of customer service are voicemail and faxing. Virtual phone service providers, like Global Call Forwarding, offer the ability to forward incoming voicemails and faxed documents to registered email addresses. For voicemail, this is called Voicemail to Email or Virtual Voicemail. For fax, this is called Fax to Email, eFax, or Fax over IP.

By receiving voicemails and fax documents in your inbox, users can remain in the know even when they are not in the office. They can hear the voicemail in the email attachment and determine the urgency of the call. Store these voicemails in the cloud for future reference. Additionally, store important fax documents forwarded to one’s email in a secure platform in the cloud. By doing so, users have better access to important business documents and can respond effectively.

5. Automated Email & SMS Responses

Using advanced email and SMS features, you can set up auto-replies or autoresponders when users sign up via your website or submit a query via email or SMS. These auto-replies can simply state that they received the customer’s email or provide them with a case ID for their issue or concern as well as a timeline for when to expect a response. This helps customers know that their query and email have been registered and they can expect a response soon.

6. Self-Service Portals and Knowledge Bases

Finally, help your customers help themselves by offering self-service portals and support knowledge bases. Your self-service portal can help them submit queries, request renewals or refills, make payments, and so on. This way, they do not need to call or email your business and wait in line. A knowledge base, on the other hand, provides informative content and guides relating to the products and services your business offers.

You can provide product descriptions, define the purpose of the products, or offer step-by-step guides on how to use the product or use your service, and so on. This reduces the number of calls received by customer service regarding product usage.

Take Steps to Automate Customer Service Now

If you think your business can benefit from automating your customer service, then now is the time to start. Many businesses are facing a high volume of customer calls and emails regarding their products since the pandemic. This is due to shoppers moving online for their purchases. And so, your business must prepare to handle incoming calls effectively to offer excellent customer service. Try implementing the above automation services and tools and get ahead of the game as we move into 2021.

5 Ways to Create a Customer First Strategy

A customer-first strategy can help your business enhance customer experience, increase customer retention, and boost employee productivity. How? In this post, we outline some proven ways to put your customers first.

What is a Customer-First Strategy?

A customer-first strategy is a business plan that revolves around the success of your customers. It focuses on improving their customer experience by solving major problems.

This includes addressing the following points:

  • What are the expectations of your customer?
  • What are the common issues your customers are looking to solve?
  • How can you make life easier for your customers?
  • How is your customer’s team set up?
  • How can you improve your customers’ experiences by leveraging customer stories from the past?

Besides focusing on your customers, an effective customer first strategy will also focus on employee needs. After all, it is your employees who will be interacting with your customers or creating products and services for them. If your employees feel undervalued, they will not put 100% into satisfying your customers.

Why You Must Put Your Customers First

Any business that relies on recurring revenue must put their customers first. Improved engagement and the quality of customer interactions will drive sales down the line. We all know that happy customers spend more and are more likely to refer your business to others.

A customer-first approach that focuses on solving customers’ problems will improve the longevity of your business.

customer first

5 Elements of Customer Strategy to Consider

An effective customer strategy usually consists of two initiatives: customer-focused and employee-focused. You will need to pay attention to the needs and expectations of both your customers and employees so you can put your customers first. Here are 5 useful elements to consider when creating a customer strategy for 2021.

1. Understand your Customer Base

If you haven’t yet, it is extremely crucial to create personas depending on your customer. Creating customer personas helps you get into the mindset of your audience, their needs, demands, expectations, preferences, and so on. This can further help you serve them better.

By failing to understand the needs of your customer base, you might not be able to guide customers along the right journey. In addition, you might not be able to quickly solve their problems.

2. Study Customer Behavior & Needs

To have a true customer-first strategy in 2021, you will need to pay attention to customer needs. This will help you retain more high-quality account. It’s very important to study your customers so that you can proactively respond to their needs.

Start by tracking customer metrics such as lifetime value (LTV), customer retention, satisfaction, and net promoter score. Ensure that all departments (especially sales, operations, and support) have access to this data. Your business can then start building an incredible overall customer experience.

3. Focus on Improving Employee Experience

Employee experience (EX) must be considered as part of your customer strategy. The value of a great employee experience is immense!

EX means taking key steps towards improving the collective experience of your employees. You may consider popular incentives such as remote work and perks. Additionally, you can provide employees with training materials and courses so they can continue to better their skills and talents. Above all, you should allow for growth within the company. This helps lower employee turnover rates and ensure productive employees but also save.

Working on your business’ EX means creating a stable and healthy work environment. Happier employees have more pleasant customer interactions, which in turn drives customer success.

4. Be Accessible Worldwide

Part of a strong customer first strategy is being accessible and reachable to your customers no matter where they are. No customer should have to pass through hoops or wait for days to get support. You must have enough customer service and technical support reps to satisfy customer needs. Furthermore, be active on multiple channels such as phone, email, live chat, social media, video. This ensures that you are always reachable.

If you are running an international business, it is important to have strong global communication. Consider subscribing to an international call forwarding service. Such a service will route calls to your team anywhere in the world. This gives your customers a free or inexpensive way to call your business, irrespective of physical distance.

Being reachable and providing quick responses will increase customer trust in your business and improve customer success.

5. Collect Feedback & Grow

Finally, collect feedback from customers on a regular basis. You can use surveys to understand where your business is succeeding and what problems you can solve for customers in the future. Then, brainstorm and apply practical solutions to key issues. A strategy that puts your customers first will make your business a better place to be.

Create Your Customer First Strategy in 2021

Implement the above tips to build and execute an effective customer first strategy that proves helpful for your customers and employees. How can Global Call Forwarding help? Check out this list of great customer service tips.

7 Types of Customer Complaints & How to Resolve Them

The best way to provide A+ customer service is to identify common customer complaints and be prepared to resolve them. Having your agents and reps trained to quickly and effectively handle complaints will lead to better and improved customer service. And this sets you on the path of gaining loyal and returning customers.

Resolving Common Customer Complaints

Customers reach out to a business for a variety of reasons ranging from help with signing up, product inquiries, request for quotes to assistance and support. However, they do not always have a good experience. This is why over the years so much emphasis has been placed on good and effective customer service.

So, what are some common types of customer complaints and how can they be resolved?

1. Waiting in Queue for Long Periods

Problem: Most of the time customers calling a business for customer support end up waiting in line for 15-45 minutes. Waiting on hold can be extremely frustrating for customers who have a small inquiry or an urgent issue.

Solution: Have more agents on call during high call volume periods. For most businesses, these periods occur between 12 pm – 2 pm (during lunch) or 4 pm – 6 pm (end of the workday). Additionally, use call routing to forward calls to different agents or office locations, when one is overburdened.

2. Long Response Times

Problem: One of the most common customer complaints is long response times. This includes customers sending emails, queries through webforms, responding to voicemails, etc., and not receiving a response within 1-2 business days.

Solution: Prioritize responding quickly and actively. Ensure your employees are on top of the emails, queries, voicemails within 1-2 business days. Longer than that and a potential customer will go with a competitor instead. While automated responses can do the trick, personalize these responses to make them less “mechanical.”

3. Frustrating Automated Systems

Problem: Dealing with chatbots and IVR systems can be hard, especially for customers that have a unique issue. Automated systems are useful for handling simple, common, mundane tasks such as:

    • Transferring calls to the right department
    • Offering troubleshooting help
    • Providing company information
    • Activating or renewing services, etc.

Customers love self-service. However, more complex tasks will need a real agent’s help. Additionally, some customers may not even know how to use and navigate through an IVR system. Some may select the wrong option and end up in the wrong department. While others may find the long menu options more annoying than helpful.

Solution: Have a simple and easy-to-use automated system with an option for voicemail or “speak with a representative” easy to find. Keep menu options short and clear. Avoid jarring hold music or repeating your services on a loop when calls are transferred. And also, be sure to allow for the option to “speak to a representative.” This way, customers can request to speak with an agent if all else fails.

4. Being Passed Around

Problem: Customers being passed around from one employee to another will definitely leave your business for another more organized and efficient one. This includes in-person, phone, and email conversations.

Solution: When they connect with your business, it should be easy for them to find the right person to speak with. Therefore, your teams need to be organized with useful department extensions or email addresses. An IVR system will come in handy here; offer menu options to callers such as Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Customer Support, Press 3 for Billing & Accounting, etc. Route calls effectively using attribute-based routing to ensure customers get the help they need with their preferences in mind.

5. Impatient or Rude Staff

Problem: This is a no-brainer. Agents that are impatient and trying to quickly resolve a call without making the customer feel welcomed and valuable or are rude and condescending will lose customers promptly.

Solution: Train your agents and reps to adopt active and empathetic listening, be patient on their calls, and behave appropriately with customers. We recommend that you use these customer service tips for 2020.

6. Staff Not Helpful or Knowledgeable

Problem: Customer complaints also include staff or agents being unhelpful or unaware of a solution. When customers interact with your business for customer support, it is usually to inquire about a product or resolve an issue they are facing. And so, they expect to talk to someone who has the knowledge and expertise to assist them.

Solution: Train agents in the subject matter of your product and service as well as the industry they serve. Create knowledge bases for employees to use when they are in a pinch and need additional support. Furthermore, you may even consider call barging and call whispering to have supervisors and managers enter a call and provide support.

7. Poor Product or Service

Problem: Another common complaint is that the quality of the product or service is poor and deceptive. Customers may feel that the description of your product or service doesn’t match the result which can lead to cancellation and refund requests.

Solution: Take these complaints seriously because they may be an indication of a much larger problem with your product or service. Customer feedback is useful not only in improving the development of your service but also in understanding your customers’ expectations and preferences. Train your staff to deal with unhappy customers. Once you see a common issue with your product, be prepared with solutions, alternatives, refunds, or promotions for future customers that may experience the same issue.

Why Paying Attention to Customer Complaints is Important

Listening to your customers and their complaints can help you improve how you serve them. Additionally, it will help you offer better and more efficient service. This can directly enhance customer support and increase customer retention, as these two factors are necessary for any business’ success!

7 Proven Tips to Deal With Difficult or Angry Customers

Dealing with a difficult or angry customer can be tricky, yet it is a common occurrence in the customer service industry. And because it happens so often, customer service employees and agents need to be prepared to deal with such customers. In this post, we discuss 7 proven tips to help you deal with difficult customers while doing your job effectively!

Dealing with a Difficult Customer? Try These 7 Tips

Quite often customer service teams are not trained specifically to deal with angry or difficult customers. This can lead to conflicts and the loss of a potentially valuable customer. For this reason, it is important to practice the below tips so you are better equipped to work with disgruntled clients.

1. Adopt Active and Reflective Listening

The first step to dealing with an angry customer is identifying the issue. And to do so, you need to listen carefully. Listen to your customer actively to identify what their concern is so you can find the appropriate solution. Another tactic is reflective listening where you pay attention to what the other is saying and then respond by reflecting the thoughts and feelings heard. For example:

Customer: “I’m annoyed because your service has the features we need but does not fit our budget.”
Agent: “What I understand is that your budget is limited and we are not offering you any discounts or promotions that fit your requirement.” Or, “Tell me more so that I can understand better and find the right solution for you.”

When you are practicing reflective listening, be careful not to promise a definitive solution to the problem. For issues such as pricing, you will need to check with supervisors and managers before you give the customer exactly what they need. But when interacting with the difficult customer, you must focus on listening and identifying the issue while making them feel heard.

2. Keep Calm and Focus on the Process

It is easy in a hostile situation to lose your calm (even slightly) and get nervous. However, remember that conflict and disagreement are common in business. But how you respond to conflict is essential because it determines your relationships with your employers as well as your customers.

Even in the heat of the moment, make an attempt to treat your customers with respect and consideration. Lower your voice, take deep breaths, and maintain a professional tone. Additionally, try to resolve disputes while over the phone. And ask for help, if you need it.

3. Try to Genuinely Empathize with the Customer

Besides listening to the difficult customer, try to empathize with them. Call them by their name, instead of “sir” or “ma’am.” Pull up their customer records so that you know their history with the company. Make them feel heard and valued and treat them as an individual person as opposed to just another customer. This can go a long way in calming the customer down and arriving at a solution.

Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2020

4. Use Support Resources

Most businesses should have some kind of knowledge base or support center that agents and employees can use when dealing with customers. If your company does not have one, it may be helpful to suggest it. This knowledgebase can help you:

  • Walk customers through common processes
  • De-escalate conflict with useful strategies
  • Set up audio/video recording
  • Get help from a fellow employee or supervisor

5. Demonstrate That You Are Taking Their Issue Seriously

Provide realistic solutions and avoid sounding monotonous. If you are repeating a script that you use with other customers without personalizing it, the customer will recognize this and become even more agitated. You need to demonstrate that you are taking their case seriously without simply saying it.

6. Don’t Take it Personally

This is hard to do when certain customers target their anger towards you instead of the issue they are facing. However, remember that this is not a personal problem. At the end of the day, the customer does not know who you are. And since you are the only way they can interact with the company, their anger is targeted towards you. Avoid taking it personally and attacking the customer back. Instead, apply the above tips to diffuse the tension.

7. Follow Up and Ask for Help, if Needed

Finally, if the problem is above your paygrade or the interaction gets too intense, then it may be prudent to ask a co-worker or manager for help. Let the angry customer know that you will contact them again with a solution or to follow up, and make sure that you do.

Related: 9 Best Customer Service Examples for 2020

Dealing with Difficult Customers Can Be Hard, But Not Impossible

Different customers will require different methods of interaction. Use your discretion but learn from mistakes. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for help from managers and bosses who may be able to offer additional options for handling tricky situations properly.

What is Customer Success?

If customer retention and churn are a problem for your business, then you need to up your customer success game. Here’s an in-depth guide to customer success and how to improve your strategy.

What is Customer Success?

Customer success refers to the process of providing proactive customer support and service. This includes anticipating potential challenges or issues faced by customers and reaching out to them beforehand to resolve those concerns.

With customer success, businesses can work closely with customers to improve customer satisfaction and boost relations. By doing so, your business can increase customer loyalty and retention. After all, who doesn’t want to work with a business that takes the time and effort to care for its customers?

Customer Success and Customer Support

To execute good customer success strategies, it is first important to understand the differences between customer support and success. Here is a table highlighting key points:

Customer Success Customer Support
1. Type of approach Proactive approach; reach out to customers before they reach out to you Reactive approach; provide support when a customer connects with you over an issue
2. Duration of interaction Long-term interactions; you work with the customer closely over a longer period of time Shorter interactions; you work with the customer to provide immediate solutions to a problem
3. Teams responsible Team collaboration between sales, marketing, support, product development, etc Operated solely by the customer support or service team
4. Metrics to measure Customer satisfaction, customer retention, customer health, customer lifetime value, etc Customer satisfaction, number of cases and tickets issued, first call resolution rates, hold time, average handle time, etc
5. Tasks to accomplish Improve customer experience, upsells, cross-sells, etc Technical support, knowledge base and guides, resolve tickets, etc.
6. Discover Areas of opportunity Problem areas
7. Ultimate goal To ensure a successful customer lifetime value To react and quickly solve issues

6 Proven Ways to Improve Your Customer Success Strategy

Any company that has customers and depends on customer satisfaction must invest in customer success. Being in the service industry, you will notice that it is harder and more expensive to acquire new customers. It is much cheaper and healthier, instead, to retain your current ones by taking care of them. These happy customers, in turn, will make good recommendations and advocate for your service.

1. Increase Brand Awareness
Work on brand visibility to make your brand a real thing for customers. An updated website and social media accounts, stats and valid data, attractive design, and user experience are a few ways to grab customer attention. Use your marketing team to improve the way customers and potential prospects see your brand and interact with it whether online (through social media, your website, web forms, product demos, content marketing) or offline (exhibitions, stores, advertising platforms).

2. Create Buyer Personas
Your marketing and sales team must collaborate to create ideal buyer personas for your product so your targeting efforts don’t go to waste. When developing buyer personas consider these questions:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • Factors or demographics are important to your persona: their budget, age range, income, location, purchasing power, etc.
  • What does your persona value?
  • Which problems are you trying to help your persona solve?
  • What content or information will catch your persona’s attention?

3. Provide Educational and Informative Content About Your Product
Use your website, emails, and social media accounts to provide your viewers with information:

  • About your product
  • How it is used
  • What issues or problems it can solve
  • How other businesses have used the product, etc.

The point is to demonstrate your expertise in the field and highlight your product or service’s successes. Maintain an updated website, highlight interviews, customer testimonials, blog posts, etc. Use common terms, avoid overwhelming technical jargon, and make knowledge bases or guides accessible. All of this will help solidify your business’ credibility, making customers trust it more. Educating customers makes your product or service more user-friendly, thereby improving the customer experience.

4. Provide Guided Onboarding
Spend extra time and energy on onboarding new customers. Guide them through the beginning of their journey with your service so they clearly understand how processes work and where they can find help. Once they are well-settled, make yourself available and reachable for initial issues that may turn up. Then, gradually move to automation and alerting so customers become more independent.

5. Offer Customer Support
Whether it is email, phone calls, live chat, or trouble tickets, your customer support team should be easy to contact. Additionally, you must equip your team with resources for quick resolution such as guides, etc. Make your business available 24/7 for customer support. You can do so by forwarding calls to other office locations or remote offices or using an IVR system to help with common issues and troubleshooting support.

6. Work to Improve Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty means that for your customer, your business is “the one.” They will not look for another service or product to replace you. This is crucial to customer retention because a loyal customer will recommend your service to others and bring in more business.

Are You Ready to Build Successful Relationships With Your Customers?

Customer success is important as it can help your business build strong and meaningful customer relations. If your business needs to increase its customer retention rates, then it’s time to start offering more proactive support today!

44 Industries That Need Great Customer Support (2020)

Customer support is essential for almost every business. This is because how you treat and serve your customers directly impacts customer satisfaction. And quality support helps you retain more valuable customers.

How to Offer the Best Customer Support

So, what are some ways your business can offer useful and relevant customer support?

  1. Hire the right people and train them well
  2. Focus on improving caller experience by understanding your target audience better
  3. Pay attention to the customer and adopt active listening
  4. Personalize and customize the customer experience
  5. Make yourself accessible by offering multi-channel communication (live chat, SMS, email, phone, etc.)
  6. Provide quick and easy solutions, and so on

Additionally, check out these helpful examples for quality customer support.

Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2020

Industries which Provide Excellent Customer Support

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) ranks businesses within their industry based on customer satisfaction and evaluation of goods and services. According to the ASCI, these are the industries which have been offering great customer support so far in 2020:

1. Cellular Telephones
2. Consumer shipping
3. Video streaming
4. Wireless telephones
5. US postal service

In 2019, the figures were different, with the following industries topping the list of excellent customer support. Companies in these industries must, therefore, continue focusing on strategies and methods that improve customer experience and increase customer satisfaction rates:

6. Breweries
7. Personal care and cleaning products
8. Food manufacturing
9. Television and video players
10. Soft drinks
11. Full-service restaurants
12. Internet investment
13. Internet retail
14. Household appliances
15. Life insurance
16. Banks
17. Cellular telephones
18. Financial advisors
19. Internet travel services

Industries that Need to Offer Better Customer Support

However, the following industries received low scores regarding customer satisfaction in 2019. Hence, companies in these industries must up their game and provide useful and resourceful customer service in 2020:

20. Internet search engines and information
21. Apparel
22. Internet news and opinion
23. Ambulatory care
24. Department and discount stores
25. Health and personal care stores
26. Cooperative energy utilities
27. Hotels
28. Wireless telephone service
29. Health insurance
30. Airlines
31. Gasoline stations
32. Municipal energy utilities
33. Investor-owned energy utilities
34. Hospitals
35. Internet social media
36. Fixed-Line telephone service
37. Video-on-demand service
38. Internet service providers
39. Subscription television services
40. Network/Cable TV news
41. Cigarettes
42. Newspapers
43. Pet food
44. Motion pictures

Companies Ranked for the Best Customer Service

Here is a list of companies with their industries that provided the best customer service in 2019, as compiled by ASCI:

Airlines:

  • Southwest
  • JetBlue

Automobiles:

  • Lexus
  • Daimler – Mercedes Benz
  • Toyota
  • Subaru

Cellular phones/Computers:

  • Apple

Consumer Shipping:

  • FedEx

Department & Discount Stores:

  • Costco

Digital Services (content & social media):

  • HubSpot
  • MailChimp
  • Buffer
  • Pollfish

Full-Service Restaurants:

  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Cracker Barrel

Furniture Stores:

  • IKEA

Household Appliances:

  • LG

Internet Retail:

  • Amazon
  • Shopify

Internet Search Engines:

  • Google

Life Insurance:

  • Thrivent Financial

Limited-Service Restaurant:

  • Chick-Fil-A

Specialty Retail:

  • L Brands

Supermarkets:

  • Trader Joe’s
  • Aldi
  • HEB Grocery
  • Publix
  • Wegmans Food Markets

Newsweek, with Statista Inc., has a different list of America’s Top 10 Best Customer Service 2020. This list was put together based on a few factors such as quality of communication, professional competence, range of services, customer focus, and accessibility:

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Neiman Marcus
  3. The Ritz-Carlton
  4. Edward Jones
  5. Chick-fil-A
  6. L.L.Bean
  7. National Storage Affiliates
  8. Embassy Suites
  9. Publix
  10. Beau Coup

Start Showing Customers Your Care Today!

Customers need to know that they are being valued and they can count on your team if any problem arises. You must make it easy for them to connect with you and resolve their concerns quickly. As you improve your customer service and experience, you will notice a rise in customer satisfaction. After all, happy customers equal happy businesses!