There was a time when customers expected (and received) little in the way of customer service from businesses. Sure you were expected to be courteous, answer a question here or there, and offer a basic level of service, but beyond that customers really let businesses off the hook when it came to proper customer interaction. Thankfully those days are long over.
Today businesses exist in a radically different ecosystem, where, as I said last week, customers have so many options that if your business doesn’t meet their expectations, they’ll simply wander down the street to—or better yet, simply load the webpage of—your closest competitor.
As we noted, in this atmosphere the key to client retention is customer service, but notions of customer service are changing, meaning that how you communicate with your clients and where you communicate with them is changing radically as well, creating a difficult challenge for businesses to remain relevant, engaged, and, most of all, consistent.
Customers in this modern technological age are changing, no longer satisfied with the traditional ways of communicating. Instead, customers are insisting on unprecedented access to the businesses they purchase from; demanding faster response time, more customer education, and more channels through which to connect to your business.
The impetus behind the changing consumer is not hard to find, advances in mobile and social technologies have made it easier than ever for people to stay connected, and savvy businesses have utilized these newly opened channels to alter the entire paradigm of customer service. Consider this, while some businesses still employ a traditional service model that operates at the speed of a Model A car, social channels like Twitter and Facebook demand that businesses improve their response time, changing their service model into a Formula 1 race car.
The challenge for businesses, however, is that customers’ expectations don’t change regardless of what channel they use, meaning that if you pride yourself on answering your phone system after the first ring but neglect to answer your emails, Facebook posts, or tweets in the same timely manner, your business will suffer.
Simply put, when a customer can reach out to your business instantaneously from virtually anywhere they expect resolutions (or at least answers) that are just that fast.
So here’s how I see it: 1) If retention is the key to profitability, 2) if customer service is the key to retention, and 3) if social and mobile channels are evolving the customer service paradigm, then the only response is that your business must evolve too, finding ways to provide top notch customer service over the phone, through email, and even via chat and social networks. Customers have come to expect such connection, now are you willing to provide it?