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How Virtualization & Automation Can Improve Customer Service

Nearly nine out of ten companies now see customer service as their primary basis for competition, a Gartner survey found. But for startup companies with a small staff and tight budget, fulfilling customers’ expectations for fast, personal attention can be challenging. Fortunately, virtualization and automation can help you leverage your resources to serve more customers than you could with your in-house staff, and without breaking your budget. Here are four ways virtualization and automation can help you implement an effective customer service strategy, boosting your customer satisfaction rate and your sales.

Use Online Knowledge Bases to Promote Self-service Options

Helping your customers help themselves is one of the most efficient ways to reduce your support team’s workload while increasing your customer satisfaction rate. Online self-service options have increasingly becoming customers’ preferred service channel in recent years. The number of customers using online forums and communities to resolve service issues increased from 31 percent to 56 percent between 2012 and 2015, Forrester reported. Fifty-five percent of customers used speech services such as Siri for customer service in 2015. Ninety-one percent of customers say they will use an online knowledge base if one is provided for them, a Coleman Parkes study found.

For best results when using an online knowledge base, use Google Analytics to research what search terms your customers and your competitors’ customers are most frequently seeking help on to ensure that you have these topics covered in your database. Study the actual phrases customers enter into your search bar to further fine-tune the language you use to answer frequently-asked questions. Monitor customer searches regularly to keep your knowledge base updated and responsive to your customers’ current needs.

Virtualize Your Customer Service Department

For effective use, online knowledge bases should be supplemented by other support methods to handle questions and issues not covered in your database. If you have a small staff or limited office space, this might require supplementing your in-house staff through remote representatives or outsourcing.

One efficient way to facilitate deployment of remote or outsourced personnel is by using a cloud contact center service such as Zipwire to virtualize your support center. A cloud-based contact center lets your support team manage customer inquiries and support tickets from any location. It also makes it easy to maintain continuity when transferring a ticket from one service channel to another, avoiding the frustration customers experience when they have to repeat themselves.

Deploy Live Chat to Boot Customer Satisfaction

Live chat is another tool that can help you improve your customer service efficiency. Customers prefer live chat over other contact channels such as phone calls, web forms and email because it helps them get their questions answered faster. This can be crucial when a customer needs help during the check-out process, making the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Live chat customers also experience the highest satisfaction rate of any service channel, with 92 percent of live chat users reporting satisfaction, Zendesk data shows.

Live chat can also be automated through chatbots, further improving your efficiency. Chatbots can scan inquiries for frequently-asked questions and provide automated answers, reducing the load on your live agents. Entrepreneur provides an overview of today’s top chatbot tools.

Offer Alternative Contact Channels

Chatbots can greatly reduce your service team’s workload, but it’s also important to provide alternative contact channels for situations that require another method or for customers who prefer other methods. Being unable to get ahold of a live representative on the phone is customers’ biggest service complaint, so make sure you provide a phone support option. Using a toll-free number can help you service customers who require phone support. Creating answering menus can automate your incoming calls, freeing up your live agents to focus on customers who truly require live assistance.

Customers also increasingly demand social media support. Forty-seven percent of customers expect a response within an hour when they post a complaint on a company’s social channel. This is another place where deploying chatbots can be an efficient way to streamline your workload. Twitter now allows you to set up chatbots to answer direct messages.

Posted on May 30th, 2017 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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