Retail PR’s Achilles Heel—why customer service must evolve

by | Sep 3, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

It’s undeniable: we live in a time in which instant gratification and speed are highly valued. Patience wears thin quickly, much to the chagrin of those who still practice it. Customer service is a vital part of any business’ success, and it’s no longer safe to rely on old customer service practices and expectations.

What do we mean when we say that it’s no longer safe? Customers are finicky, and they are now accustomed to having everything served instantaneously. Ads, blog posts, articles, videos—all of this content at their fingertips. Why not a customer service rep?

It’s easy to agree that dialing a toll-free number and attempting to navigate the menu to find a live operator is one of the more infuriating processes in existence. Particularly in today’s age of impatience, this go-around can really ruffle the feathers of a customer.

Today, it’s fairly common for companies to rely mostly on electronic communications for customer service matters

In fact, some companies do not even maintain a public phone number that customers can reach. While this cuts down on costs and overhead, the virtual communications must be of exceptional quality in order to have hope for success.

With instant messaging and social media now an option to fulfill customer service needs, businesses must be sure that their representatives are well versed in customer service. Communication is key, and so is timeliness

A customer may send a message on a Friday evening and get upset if no one responds to them immediately.While this is certainly usually not a reasonable expectation, there are still ways to stay ahead of the game and avoid an upset customer. For example, platforms such as Facebook allow for instant replies, which allows a business to indicate that the customer’s message has been received. This often serves to placate impatient users who message during non-business hours.

Should the customer service cycle be 24/7? Absolutely not

What we are suggesting is that every detail must be accounted for as far as opportunities to make a difference in customer service are concerned. Simply setting up instant replies to help curb off-peak messages can make a big difference in reputation.

Taking ownership is another area that must continue to be at the forefront of any customer interaction. There is not much that is more irritating than encountering a customer service representative who only wants to “pass the buck” rather than trying to find a solution.

Remember: impatience, instant gratification. Businesses need to be mindful that a customer now has a multitude of options, with few exceptions. Every opportunity, therefore, is one that should be taken in order to build customer loyalty and brand reputation.

Train the customer service team to take ownership

Empower the team to make decisions for the customer’s best interests. Don’t micromanage and require them to obtain permission for every single solution. Give them power, and this will pay off in spades when it comes to customer satisfaction. We’ve all been passed around from department to department enough times to know this is true!

Customer service is simple but it’s also quite challenging. And today’s environment of short attention spans and quick interactions only serves to fuel this fire. But with just a bit of willingness to evolve and to learn new techniques, a business can set itself apart from its competition with exceptional customer service.

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Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations: 5WPR is one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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