Reducing Response Time through Effective Customer Service

“45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly.” – Forrester Research

Have you ever noticed that there is a gap between the customer satisfaction levels customer satisfaction and the actual customer service your company provides? If you have, do you know why? Well it’s probably because of the seemingly long waiting time in response time. Each of us has been a customer and has felt the frustration of having to wait ‘endlessly’ to be served. So why not start to increase customer satisfaction by reducing response time through effective customer service! Irrespective of how a customer is communicating with you, the expectation is always the same – to have a great customer experience which includes an almost immediate resolution or at least a response. Increasing the capability of your customer service team to process requests, queries and complaints in the least amount of time, will most certainly raise the level of customer satisfaction. Effective Customer Service is one of the prime reasons that customers will think well or not of your company as a whole. It is vital to remember that effective customer service must not be about reacting to customers when things go haywire. It is about the overall experience and satisfaction that your customer perceives while dealing with your company. Communication that timely and effective is most basic to customer satisfaction.

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As management it is easy to forget about this portion of your business, since dealing with daily tasks and crisis is keeping you busy. However, it is worth your while to remember that the reason you are even dealing with these situations is to be in business. And without customers these tasks would have no meaning – make customer satisfaction the top priority. Train, communicate and engage your employees especially the customer facing staff to deliver excellence in customer service. Every customer interaction, however short, leads up to either customers being supremely satisfied or ready to run out the door. True the increasing demands and managing them in the fastest possible time is a daunting task. Reducing response time through effective customer service will bring down the number of queries and save you valuable resources. Being able to save even a few minutes per query will add up to a huge amount of time being saved overall. Effective and timely handling of their queries or complaints will ultimately lead to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Constant monitoring, of the current customer service processes, is an important leadership task.

– Effective handling and a specified Turnaround Time (TAT) must be incorporated in the performance appraisal document of each customer service team member, including supervisors and managers.

– Reduced waiting time at each level of the customer interaction – a call answered within 2 rings, average hold time not more than 30 seconds, response over email or social media within the working day are just some examples to reduce waiting time.

– Efficiency in using every communication channel available. Customers must be responded to via the same channel they reach out to you.

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– Trained and knowledgeable staff will be more effective when it comes to dealing even with vexed customers. Competent staff will also be able to bring down the number of customers that reach the irate level and this in turn raises the number of queries they can effectively respond to. Angry customers take up more time and energy and are more difficult to convince.

– Segment your customer service teams – any new queries must be immediately allocated to a specified segment of the staff. Late allocation or assignment of queries significantly increases wait time and decreases customer satisfaction.

– In the event that your customer needs to revert with information, it would work well to have a representative follow up with him or her. Keeping queries unresolved for too long increases this number to unmanageable levels. Being pro-active and asking for the information also creates a lasting positive impression on the customer. Categorizing the reason for the response hold also helps to reduce wait time.

– When a customer responds, the information provided must be utilized immediately. It would be smart to incorporate timelines in the Service Level Agreement so that the customer is aware of his or her part of the response time too.

– Clear cut responsibility areas for each customer service staff, specified incentives and negative impacts of not meeting timelines must be clearly mentioned in the Key Performance Areas

– Customer service staff must know where to pass to query especially if it is technical in nature and requires expert advice.

– Staff must have easy access to all and any information they require to serve the customers. Having to look for information will increase response time and make customers impatient.

– An exhaustive and comprehensible list of FAQs must be part of the company website, brochures, email and social media sites. Your customer service team must also be well versed with these questions and answers to help in reducing response time to customers.

– Take customer feedback in to consideration. Incorporate new technology and upgraded training for your staff to enhance proficiency of response times. Re-do the SLA to reflect the new turnaround time so that customers know what to expect and will feel more confident in dealing with your company. Constantly improving on timelines leads to enhanced customer satisfaction as customers can perceive that your company is committed to providing excellent customer service

– Provide a common forum for customers with similar businesses to have open discussions with each other and with your company. The feedback from these discussions will give provide pointers for your company towards customer behavior and thought. Knowing your customers better also enables your teams to respond quicker and more accurately to them. This feedback can also be used proactively to incorporate changes that the customer clearly wants to see. You won’t need to wait for a customer to ask or complain, which will also reduce the number of queries and reduce response times overall.

– Having templates for responses that can be tweaked to match a customer query, also prove highly effective in reducing response time to customer queries. Response time can be almost immediate since just a click of a button will show the correct action to be taken against a particular query.

– Such templates also prove indispensable in case of staff movement or staff attrition. The replacing staff will have data at their fingertips that they can effectively reduce. Such seamless service also translates to effective customer service leading to happy and satisfied customers.

The mentioned methods are detailed but not everything. As a company you must decide what will work best for you and your kind of customer base and current satisfaction levels. What would be common to all companies is the constant monitoring and tracking of performance levels in terms of turnaround times. An accurate database, on first contact resolution, overall resolution time, problem areas and key improvement areas, will prove crucial in knowing where your customer service levels are at. Using this data effectively will be your step towards successfully reducing response time to customer queries and enhancing the effectiveness of your customer service. You want to be in business and be successful for the longest time possible. Keeping your customers happy by simply reducing response time through effective customer service is your powerful weapon. Excellent Customer Service is and will remain one of the most critical trump-card for any nature of business. Enjoy a great reputation and a wide loyal customer base just by ensuring that each customer experience is delightful, memorable and worthy of being praised before others.

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground”. ~ Jerry Gregoire

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary”. ~ Sam Walton

The experts have said it all!

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