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3 Ways to Exceed Today’s Customer Service Expectations

Why do so many companies miss their sales quotas so consistently? Average quota attainment fell from 63 percent in 2012 to 55.8 percent in 2016, CSO Insights data shows, illustrating the huge gap between sales goals and performance. If you’re looking for reasons why you’re falling short of sales quotas, it may seem intuitive to blame your sales department, but often, the problem may lie with your customer service.

While customer service shortcomings can hurt your sales performance, exceeding customer service expectations can elevate your sales. Here are three ways you can improve your customer service in order to exceed consumer expectations and boost your sales results.

Use Technology to Reduce Customer Wait Time

One thing today’s customer expects is shorter response times when waiting for customer service. Many consumers cite long wait times as one of their top reasons for dissatisfaction with customer service. Consumers in stores will wait only up to five minutes in line before abandoning purchases, 70 percent of retailers told a TimeTrade survey, and 75 percent of retailers say wait-related issues are the biggest reason they lose customers. When it comes to phone wait times, two-thirds of customers will hang up within two minutes, and over one in 10 aren’t willing to wait at all, a Google Consumer Survey found.

One reason consumers expect lower wait times is because more companies are adopting cloud contact center software that speeds up customer service queues. Today’s leading cloud-based contact center tools integrate with automated service solutions that can tap into CRM databases, instantly pulling up customer account information. For instance, if the system detects that a customer is calling from a certain phone number, it can immediately identify the caller and pull up information relevant to their account history. This information can speed up the customer’s use of automated self-service options, and it can also be made available to live representatives for faster ticket processing. This translates into shorter wait times and more satisfying customer experiences, promoting more repeat business.

Integrate Automated and Live Support

While technology can often speed up the support process, it can also backfire when clumsily deployed. Being unable to get in touch with a live human representative is customers’ most frequent service complaint, a Consumer Reports survey found. When customers contact you for help but get sidetracked into a series of irrelevant menu options that don’t include the option to contact a live representative, they can quickly become irritated and even more frustrated than they were over their original problem.

An effective way to deal with this issue is to use your cloud contact center solution to integrate automated and live support options. Cloud-based automated support channels that use artificial intelligence can filter voice and live chat ticket inquiries to swiftly determine which inquiries can be handled automatically and which require live human support. This removes the frustration customers experience if they can’t get ahold of live help, retaining customer relationships and promoting future purchases. It also provides live representatives with automated support for handling customer tickets, which can generate upsell opportunities based on the customer’s individual account profile.

Aim for First-Contact Resolution

Another common cause of customer discontent is contacting a service representative only to leave the conversation with their issue unresolved. Customer satisfaction drops 15 percent every time a customer has to call back about the same issue, while conversely, customer satisfaction increases 1 percent each time your first-contact resolution rate increases 1 percent, SQM Group research has shown.

Improving your first-resolution response rate starts by using your cloud contact center’s analytics capability to track how many of your tickets get resolved on first contact and what happens when they don’t. You can then begin to identify issues that need improvement. For instance, you can determine whether calls are being transferred to the wrong personnel, which is a common lag on first-contact resolution. Using a contact center solution that automatically pulls up customer account information and employs skills-based routing can help improve your first-contact resolution rate. This will have a direct impact on your customer satisfaction rate, which will in turn improve customer retention and sales.

Reducing customer wait time reduces customer frustration. Integrating automated and live support helps speed up customer service response without irritating customers by preventing them from getting human help. Improving first-contact resolution avoids the dissatisfaction customers experience if they have to call back multiple times. Implementing these strategies will boost your customers’ satisfaction, promoting longer-term customer relationships and generating more repeat business and referrals.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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