Back in the day when we actually had to leave our homes to buy stuff, customer service looked a whole lot different. We (obviously) dealt with real people a lot more often. When we entered stores, we actually wanted – and expected – to be helped, and relied mainly on the expertise of the salesperson (or advertising) to make our purchase. We operated within the hours of the place we were shopping at, working around their schedule, and bought mainly because of face-to-face interactions and prior product knowledge.
Telemarketing, call centres, flyers and mail campaigns were the main ways for businesses to reach out and respond to potential customers. Which meant that the telephone was the most important tool for taking care of clients. Employees were highly trained on how to handle inquiries by phone, would provide their contact information for direct calls, and would keep specific client information at the ready until the job was done.
These days, online shopping is actually beginning to surpass shopping in person in numbers. Experts have been predicting it for awhile, but in 2019 it actually happened. The article, “Online shopping overtakes a major part of retail for the first time ever,” published in April by cnbc.com, states that, “The total market share of ‘non-store,’ or online U.S. retail sales was higher than general merchandise sales for the first time in history,” according to a report from the Commerce Department. It’s very close, but “non-store” marketplaces edged out retail outlets by 11.813 percent compared with 11.807. One of the reasons for this is the success of online behemoth, Amazon.
Added Value Through Technology
Love it or hate it, Amazon is one company that has really leveraged technology for its customer service to benefit both themselves and their customer. Amazon’s “the Echo” – better known as Alexa – has the main role of shopping assistant. You can order more of any product just by asking her, and she’ll get your stuff on the go right away. The bonus of this, aside from speed and convenience, is that you can do your shopping as you notice you are out of items. Gone are the days of the old-fashioned shopping list.
Amazon upped the ante with Alexis, though, by making her a full-on personal assistant. You can ask her pretty much anything, such as, “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” or to play anything on your Spotify list, or to read your audiobooks. This is just major added value to a tool that was first developed to improve your online shopping experience, and exemplifies how customer service has changed over the years.
Adding value to the customer service experience through technology doesn’t have to be as complicated as creating an Alexa, though, A few ways you can capitalize on tech for your business include:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) tools. A CRM serves many functions, but its most basic utilities are pretty straightforward. It stores data on customers, allows you to track trends, and provides a centralized location for data so that one rep can pick up where another leaves off with a given prospect. This allows you to keep moving forward with a sale rather than having to backtrack and start again, which is always annoying for the customer. Having to answer the same question over and over makes it seem like the business is disorganized and doesn’t really care about the customer experience.
- The use of social media. Social media allows you to share information about your products and business in a way that you can build your brand at the same time as selling your wares. This is the best of both worlds. It also allows you to target your most desirable customer organically and build a relationship based on honest information sharing.
- Leveraging different types of messaging. People are more likely to type off a quick message to a company if they have a question (expecting an equally quick response) than they are to pick up the phone and make a call. That means you should equip your website with more than one way for people to get a hold of you in order to provide the best customer service experience. Chat boxes work well for this.
Customers Need to Introduce Themselves to You, Not the Other Way Around
In a nutshell, customers are in control of their interactions with businesses these days, whereas all businesses used to have to do was publish their sales in weekly flyers and wait for the people to pour in. For better online lead generation, you have to take the time to warm up your customers properly. Let people get to know you first, without heavy-handed sales techniques. Your social media accounts and your website are the best ways to gently reach out to your potential customers. Entice them to get to know you better through thoughtful content development, and allow them to introduce themselves to you through the smart use of calls-to-action.
At Emphasize Design, we offer website design services that run the gamut of online marketing techniques. We have designed our website design pricing to be completely transparent so that you know exactly what you are getting for your investment. Browse through our portfolio to see some of our work, and contact us for more information. We look forward to speaking with you.