10 Creative and Efficient Customer Service Solutions





Endless articles are posted in business publications about customer service solutions.

Knowing how to best connect with your customers is an important part of being successful in the long term, as well as achieving growth that keeps you going in the meantime.

With so much information out there, you would think that we would have the process down to an art. But all it takes is a trip through Yelp, or Googling large companies like Xfinity to see that customer satisfaction is far from being mastered.

As a smaller brand, you have a distinct advantage in your ability to directly communicate with and connect with your audience. You can also get a bit more creative with your attempts and act more efficiently.

So, what does it take?



1. Make Sure You Have The Right Customer Support Tool

Simple, but crucial. In a time when there are dozens of customer support solutions to choose from, you should take the time to really find one that will work for you and your team.

Check out features versus price, and any special offers they might have. Most importantly, contact them with questions. The way a customer support services handles customer support themselves should give you a clear indication of how good their tool really is.

I am using ZenDesk to power my customer service emails. I have found it to be a simple, yet complete solution.

2. Be on Top of Your Customer Service Team

As a business owner or a manager, you should always be on top of how your customer service team performs. Keeping an eye on customer satisfaction is a key to your business success!

I use Cyfe, the multi-purpose business dashboard, to keep analyzing how we are doing. I have enabled ZenDesk widget inside my “Customer satisfaction” dashboard to monitor if we are suddenly seeing a spike in customer service tickets, how quickly those tickets are closed, etc.



Customer Service Solutions

I also annotate campaign dates, holidays, etc. (anything that can affect our customer service team) to see what might have caused each spike. Using Cyfe, you can simply add another widget for notes as well as the calendar widget to monitor important dates.

3. Know Your Customers Inside and Out

You should begin building a foundation of understanding with your customers as soon as you can. Of course, you likely don’t have the budget of big companies for data mining and acquisition. You will need to be a bit more creative with the process.

A personal favorite method of mine is to create surveys.



Depending on your needs, you can make either a longer one that is done all at once, or you can offer randomized questions on the site itself that show up and change each time a user visits. You can find a great deal of information this way, granted that there is some kind of login or account connection.

Once you have information on their needs, interests, or complaints, you can make a note on the account. Now, you have that information every time they contact you.

Qeryz is one of the coolest survey solutions I’ve seen so far: You can create mini-surveys for different landing pages of your site and engage visitors depending on their intent. They also have cool analytics to help you understand your visitors better:

Customer Service Solutions



4. Eliminate The Need For Customer Support Calls

Most people will go to any length to avoid a phone call with a customer support agent.

Admit it, you will yourself. That is why companies began offering alternative methods for contact, including email, social media support, and chat support.

You don’t have to provide all of them (spreading yourself too thin is a cardinal sin for small businesses). But you should have at least one alternative avenue for users who would prefer not to contact you by phone.

If you are looking for affordable solution here, look no further. ChatWoo is free and it’s incredibly easy to install (so no development costs either). It will provide you will essential online chat features and even analytics:



Customer Service Solutions

5. Prep Some Customized Freebies

Going back to knowing your audience, another benefit of having that information is the ability to customize gifts. People love free stuff. they love feeling like you appreciate them, and that you are not just taking, taking, taking. When you also show that you know them, you are going to get better results.

Perhaps my favorite example of this in practice is the Kotex Pinterest gift campaign. They took influencers they wanted to target, and made those women customized gifts sent to their homes. Each gift was created using images they had pinned on their Pinterest boards.

They sent out 50 gifts across the world, and as a result ended up with an astonishing 694,853 total impressions.



Customer Service Solutions

6. Don’t Leave Calls To Your Employees

Your employees need to be trained in customer service, obviously. You have probably hired some people to handle help desk, as well. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be directly involved with the process.

Recently, I emailed a website that offers a video call streaming dashboard, to ask about features.

The CEO contacted me back and scheduled a meeting, bypassing any customer service steps in between. He spent an hour and a half speaking to me, and offered to create a customized version of the platform that would meet my needs.



This is not an unusual occurrence, by a long shot. Startups are taking customer service to a new level, and the top dogs are frequently involved.

7. Get In Touch Before They Do

A good email marketing strategy is the key here: Getting in touch with your customers when you really have something exciting to share always works wonders.

Make sure to use email marketing segmentation: If there are some customers more likely to need/want it, you should target them first. That way they both feel special, and you are informing them before they have to contact you for details.

Getresponse offers the easiest (yet advanced) segmentation features I’ve ever seen: Really easy to manage!



Customer Service Solutions

8. Use Social Media For Regular Engagement

A shocking number of companies are just doing social media all wrong, especially small businesses. They use their profiles as some kind of advertising dumping ground.

You can see that they have clearly read a bunch of blog posts telling them the “perfect formula” for growing their social media presence. As a result, it comes off as insincere, pandering, and marketing jargon. Skip all that and instead, use social media to directly engage and communicate with your audience on a one on one level.

Track down and add your customers, or add them back when they follow you. Contact them with special offers. Respond to their tweets and comments. Use your profiles to have a conversation, not to sell. Never forget that social media is not a place for conversions, but lead generation through connection.



Related:

9. Don’t Follow By The Usual Script

Be different! A unique customer service experience can be your strongest competitor advantage and word-of-mouth marketing catalyst!

Deborah Anderson shared her own examples with me: Years ago she and her husband owned a domain registration service and their big thing was “one-hour reply.”

I can see how this can empower your site call-to-action and increase your site trust: A one-hour reply policy to all the support tickets. Wow!

Gamification is another possible way to let your customer service go viral. GamEffective is quite possibly a pioneer in this field allowing businesses to make customer service experience actually fun and activating:

“GamEffective uses rich graphical narratives for its enterprise gamification, ranging from sports to racing, virtual city-building and song-contests. Narratives make employees the heroes of their game and not just a name on a leaderboard, and provide a deep context based experience.”

Here’s a fun Slideshare explaining the process.

10. Get Creative With FAQ and Help

Your site content should answer all your customers’ possible questions. Helping your customers is the smartest content marketing strategy.

One of the best examples of that implemented well is UXCeclipse. They create a lot of aiding materials for their customer base. In this case, we’re talking about companies in retail.

They generated an infographic, they constantly update their blogs with relevant information on how to use the Microsoft products, webinars, white papers (because in the corporate and retail world, you need numbers to prove the value of a business), podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.

It’s more like a B2B customer service solution, because they’re making their customers feel comfortable with the software they sell, and believe that “Knowledge is power”. So, this is their creative way: offering knowledge, under many forms, so that their clients are always informed, are getting familiar and are returning to their websites.

Customer Service Solutions

Bonus: Go Back To Basics

When people ask me what the most important thing they can do to become a better marketer is, I always tell them to read Dale Carnegie’s, “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. Originally published in 1936, it is still the greatest work on marketing out there. He doesn’t give you magic bullet tricks to manipulate customers. He teaches the importance of empathy, compassion, and connection. He brings it all back to basics.

Last but not least, remember the saying “The customer is always right”? Well, if you’ve been providing services for a couple of years, you’ll know that’s not exactly true. Whatever happens, always remember to remain a professional. Read this article for some inspiration.

Do you have a tip for customer service solutions?


Helping Customer Photo via Shutterstock

16 Comments ▼


Ann Smarty


Ann Smarty Ann Smarty is the founder of My Blog Guest, a free community of bloggers. Ann is also the Community and Brand Manager of Internet Marketing Ninjas.

16 Reactions

  1. Re:#4 – I’m one of those people that love to handle things via live chat. It allows me to continue working on my tasks for the day and often I can express my needs much more concisely in text.

    • Ann Smarty

      Me too! Somehow picking up the phone takes a =n emotional effort while a live chat is easy and stress-free!

  2. this is a pretty good list but you do fall into a typical small business trap.

    in an effort to use freeware and push down up front costs you severely limit what you can achieve in items 1,4,7,8. all which when utilized correctly can offset the cost of a complete system in lower costs and higher revenue.

    you should be advocating a single platform for your channels of communication and your contact info. yes the best systems cost a little more but having one fully integrated platform for your interactions (incoming cs requests and outgoing emails and marketing) will benefit you more than saving a couple hundred $$ a month.
    also items like integrating chat with faq/ knowledge and deflection reduces the need for those interactions as well.

    • Ann Smarty

      Sometimes it’s not about saving the money. It’s about not having enough money for an integrated solution… Plus, I love free tools and I know very few all-in-one platforms or tools that I could find really complete… Maybe you could suggest one?

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Well I believe a customer needs to be given best of service when uplifting a business is concerned. As positive attitude not only gives upper hand, but competitiveness too . As making every effort to retain the customers, should be done at highest level.

  4. Paymore Temba Muzombi

    I’m that person who use Social Media For Regular Engagement, but was doing it all wrong, now would want to use social media to directly engage and communicate with my audience on a one on one level.

  5. You make many really good suggestions for businesses to get to grip with customer service.

    I am not sure Chatwoo should be recommended however, as their apparent 2 step login does not work (it keeps saying invalid website/email address) and there is no way to contact them as their contact form says the same thing.

    Furthermore, it does not appear that Chatwoo is free.

    I expected better from a vendor that aims to help businesses be more customer-friendly.

    • Ann Smarty

      Hey Eny, that may be a temporal error because I was able to login just fine… Also what makes you think it’s not free?

    • Hi Eny,

      Could you provide us data inputs you took at the time of domain registration. So we can investigate the issue. For Now, we tested that ‘smallbiz-emarketing.com’ is registering at our end.

      Thanks,
      chatsupport@chatwoo.com

      • Thanks for getting back to me about this.

        I don’t really understand your request.

        Basically I can’t register for Chatwoo, a free Live help and Live Chat vendor, as recommended in your post.

        When I enter my website and email address to get the cod for the widget for my website, all I get is a reply that my domain name and email address are invalid. Given that my website is live and has been for a few months, this is very frustrating.

        Get in touch if I can be of any more help with this.

  6. Great list Ann! Thank you.
    I love that you touch on the importance of being unique and sincere, while using all the high-tech tools we now have access too.
    One thing that I do always advice my clients (despite being time consuming) is to send hand-written cards. I think that small businesses can truly set themselves apart by going above and beyond with little things that the big boys tend to forget.

  7. I would like to suggest you hybrid email marketing tool called Easysendy Pro helping 12000+ business to deliver [NO SPAM] hybrid email campaigns through cloud SMTP relays at 50x more affordable price and more email open rate

  8. Great article Ann! Actually, you can use only one tool to realize almost all the solutions that you refer to. And I believe it is currently much easier and more efficient to focus on one tool, instead of dividing your attention on various tools everywhere.

    As a customer service manager, I recommend you to simply use Slaask, a real-time customer service app. It includes Live Chat, FAQ, Email, video chat, social media platforms, and so forth!

  9. I like what you said about avoiding customer phone calls as much as possible because modern companies should shift to other kinds of communication support. I would imagine a renowned IT company to hire many customer support agents to entertain their concerns. If I were to be a tech company owner, I would hire an outsourced tech services company so that I could focus on other matters such as internal operations.

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