Entries Tagged 'Customer service' ↓

Customer Service – Real Person or Self-Service?

It is a well-known fact that customer service is the one area that will make your company stand out from the crowd. With limited budgets, it’s one way smaller companies can compete, and at times outdo the big boys.No customer service gets my goat

Let’s face it, we all love to be made to feel special and great customer service is a prime example of that.

Small details such as calling customers by name, retuning calls quickly and keeping customers informed can make a huge impact on your company’s reputation.

But of course, high levels of customer service tend to come with high wage bills, not something every business wants to absorb. That’s why, according to a recent article in Business Matters, many companies (21% of those surveyed) are now investing in tools that will allow their customers to deal with issues without needing to speak to an employee.

Is that really a good thing?

Do we really want to be on our own?

When it comes to queries and complaints, today’s technology and social media have opened up businesses to a 24 hour demand. Customers want immediate answers and, for most companies, a fully manned customer help line that’s available 24/7 simply isn’t feasible.

I’m all in favour of auto responders to emails (provided I actually get a response to my query too), accessibility through social media and the live chat facility, but what really gets my goat (now you understand the relevance of the image) are the companies that seem simply not to care.

Speaking from experience, in my mind, there is nothing more frustrating than wanting to find contact details for a company only to be faced with page upon page of FAQs. Not only that, but no matter how thoroughly you search, there is no sign of a phone number, email or postal address.

To me (and I’m sure I can’t be alone here) that would suggest a lack of regard for their customers. I immediately begin to think why don’t they want me to be able to get in touch with them? What are they trying to hide?

I can understand offering 24/7 accessibility to staff is not practical, but surely an email address (not contact form, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve tried to contact companies through those only to never receive a response) isn’t too much to ask?

Most customers are reasonable and won’t expect an immediate email response if they are contacting you out of hours, but a simple auto responder saying ‘thanks for your email, it will be answered shortly’ (or something along those lines) instils confidence that their query or complaint has been received and will be dealt with.

And every now and then, it is quite nice to be able to find a phone number and speak to a real person.

Making life easier all round

The best of both worlds would be a company that offers FAQs (you never know, one day they might cover my query) and a way of getting hold of someone – either by phone or email.

Don’t let technology take over completely. Customers do still crave the human touch now and again.

An ability to speak or interact with a real person is a very precious thing, so don’t go down the route that some of the massive corporations have ventured along, thinking page upon page of FAQs offers the same level of service as the ability to contact a person.

Over to you

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you think it’s OK to have a website without any contact details listed and just FAQs?

Leave a comment and have your say.

Sally Ormond – Copywriter and occasionally disgruntled customer



Using Twitter to Improve Your Customer Service

Yes, love it or loathe it, Twitter is a fantastic platform for your business.

You can instantly connect with customers, you can act immediately, you can ask questions and get a shed load of responses – Twitter is amazing.

But are you using it to maximise your customer service and support?

To show you how it can be used to your advantage, I want to direct you to a great post I found on SocialMediaExaminer.com. Written by Leo Widrich, co-founder of BufferApp.com, it is a personal account of how Leo has used it to improve his company’s customer service and support.

After all, as he says, customer service is one area where you can really make your company stand out in a crowd – in the words of Gary Vaynerchuck (@garyvee):

“I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.”

So, what are Leo’s tips?

Well, they go something like this:

  • Use Twitter to give a rapid response
  • Personalise your Tweets with your name or picture
  • Use DMs to your advantage
  • Use search tools to help people who aren’t even customers yet

So, if you want to improve your customer service and blow your competitors out of the water, have a read of 4 Ways to Use Twitter for Customer Service & Support.


The Customer Rules OK

Customer serviceA while ago, I wrote a post about how to keep your copywriting clients happy. As we all know, if you want to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd, excelling in customer service is the way to go.

Usually, the press is full of bad news stories. If someone has received truly awful service they spend hours telling everyone about it. But what about the occasions where good service is received?

Surely, there must be some companies out there who are getting it right?

Well, I’m about to redress the balance with a couple of examples I recently experienced.

Printers, printers everywhere, but which one do I choose?

Just before Christmas, my printer decided to fall out with my computer and refuse to print anything. After much searching through troubleshooting guides and help forums, I decided the only thing to do was to ditch it for a newer model.

But which one to choose? If you’ve shopped for printers recently you’ll know how many are out there. After asking round colleagues for advice, I decided a trip to my local Staples was on order to see what I could find.

First, I was greeted by a member of staff asking whether I needed any help.

I explained what I was looking for and he immediately asked loads of questions about how I would be using the printer, whether I wanted a multifunction model etc.

Once I gave him all the information he needed, he instantly whittled it down to 3 models. Then we chatted about ink and paper costs, so he even worked out which one would be the cheapest to run.

I bought the printer I needed and left a very happy shopper.


Don’t you just hate it when, after you’ve gone through a seemingly endless automated phone system and finally get to speak to a real person, you get cut off.

Well that happened to me the other day. I phoned Santander to find out some details about international payments. Before I got cut off, the guy I was speaking with was very helpful. At this point I would like to stress that the phone went dead due to the adverse weather conditions and the fact that I was phoning on my VoIP line – so when the wind blew out my broadband, my phone also died.

To my amazement, after about 15 minutes, my phone rang (by this time my broadband was once again functioning) and it was the guy I’d been speaking with.

He was most apologetic that he hadn’t phoned back sooner but got caught on another call.

Amazing – such a simple thing to do and yet so few companies do it.

Neither of these examples are exactly ground breaking stuff, but it just goes to show that simply by treating your customers as real people and having a desire to make sure they receive the product or advice they need, you’ll provide them with a positive experience.

Would I use either company again?


Over to you

Have you received a particularly good service recently?

Perhaps you’ve received terrible service?

Whatever the case, leave a comment below and share them with us.

Sally Ormond, Copywriter

Customer Reassurance – Overcoming ‘What if…’ Syndrome

Encouraging online salesIf your business sells goods online, your ‘shopping experience’ must be exceptional.


Well, for many people, shopping online is still dabbling in the unknown. If they buy something from a High Street store, they can speak with staff, see the product, pay for it and take it away there and then.

But shopping online is a completely different experience:

•    There is no one to ask questions of immediately
•    The can see a picture of the product but not the real thing
•    They can’t touch the product
•    Although they can pay for it, they have to wait for it to be delivered

Effectively, they are giving a faceless company their hard earned cash for something they’ve not yet received.

It’s hardly surprising so many online transactions are never completed.

Don’t lose sales through ‘what if…’ syndrome

What do I mean?

•    What if I can’t get back to the webpage I want if I click this link?
•    What if I don’t like the product when it arrives?
•    What if the company goes bust?
•    What if they sell my details on to another company?

These are just a few of the ‘what ifs…’ that could be flying through your customers’ heads right now.

So how can you alleviate their fears?

How can you make them feel safe while shopping with you?

Give reassurance every step of the way

The key is to reassure them at every stage of the buying process – from the moment they land on your website, right through to their sale confirmation email.

1. Testimonials

An old one, but a good one. Showing real customer testimonials on your website will help reassure your customers. If they can see other people were satisfied with your products and service, they are more likely to buy.

If you don’t have any, get some. Ask past customers to rate your service.

2. Privacy policy

People are, quite rightly, concerned about the possibility of their details being passed on to third parties.

Reassure them this won’t happen by telling them and providing a prominent link to your privacy policy.

3. Simple ordering

If you want someone to buy from you, your ordering process must be simple. And I don’t just mean so you can understand it.

People of all IT abilities are going to be potential customers, so when you design your ordering process, get your Aunt or other member of the family (non-tech savvy) to do a dry run for you. This ‘test drive’ will help you iron out any ambiguities.

4. Reputable payment

People don’t like to input their sensitive information online, such as bank details and card numbers. Give reassurance by only using reputable payment partners.

5. Guarantee

Everyone loves a guarantee, especially the ‘100% of your money back, no questions asked’ type. It shows your commitment to your customers and your faith in your products.

6. Let them know where you are

There’s nothing more off putting than seeing a website without an address.

If you are genuine, surely there’s no reason to hide your postal address.

7. Click points

All over your website there’ll be various ‘click’ points for navigation. Do a full review of them (call in your Aunt again) and make sure they are all clear. If not, add a line of text to explain what your customer needs to do.

8. Awards

If you have won awards for customer service or for your products, display them on your website. Sight of those will provide an extra layer of confidence for your customers, making them more likely to buy.

There you go, 8 very simple ways you can avoid the ‘what if…’ syndrome.

Over to you

Can you think of anymore? If so, leave a comment below.

Are You Missing the Point of Twitter?

Despite the number of blog posts and articles you see about Twitter, I was flabbergasted to read a recent post on The Drum.

Apparently 71% of companies are still ignoring consumer complaints on Twitter.

Social media has opened up communications between consumer and business. Now, someone can complain through Twitter about poor service or product quality and within seconds potentially thousands of people will know about it.

And yet, there appear to be an alarming number of companies who are not monitoring Twitter effectively.

According to the article, in a survey by Maritz Research, only 29% of those who tweeted a company with a complaint received a reply. This shows a worrying trend – namely, businesses are still not ‘getting’ Twitter.

The post goes on to say that…

The American research looked at 1,298 consumers over the age of 18 who frequently tweet and have used the micro-blogging site to complain about a specific product, service, brand or company.

  • 49% of respondents had expected the company to read their tweet
  • 64.9% of older tweeters (aged 55+)  expected a reply
  • 38.4% of younger tweeters (18-24 year olds) expected a reply

Of those who received a response from a company, 34.7% were very satisfied and 39.7% were somewhat satisfied with the response.

While 86.4% said they would love/like it if the company had got back to them regarding their specific complaint, 63.3% said that they wouldn’t like or would hate it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint.

The power of a tweet

Once upon a time, if a customer was unhappy about something they would pick up the phone and have a rant. But because they would be speaking with someone representing the company, in theory, their complaint wouldn’t go unnoticed.

But today, consumers have the ability to tweet their anger. Not only would this be directed at the company’s twitter name so (you would assume) they would get to hear about it and take action, it would also be seen by all their followers.

Whether companies like it or not, Twitter (and other social media channels) is the new ‘social telephone’.

The above research shows that most people (84%) liked it when companies got a response form their tweet.  Just by listening, a company could greatly improve its customer service satisfaction levels.

Monitoring the noise

If a company is going to use social media, it must ensure it has the resources to use it effectively.

A Twitter account must be monitored to offer timely responses to customer queries and complaints. If you quickly make contact and resolve the issue, you can turn a potentially bad situation into a positive. Your customer will see you as a company that cares about its customers and listens to them.

Make sure your company isn’t one of the 71%:

  • Monitor Twitter for any mention of your brand
  • Respond quickly to tweets you receive from customers
  • Never get into a Twitter argument
  • A quick response will turn a bad situation into a positive outcome

Over to you

Does your business use Twitter?

How are you making sure you monitor it?

If you have any tips to share to help other businesses get to grips with the ‘social media telephone’, leave a comment below.

 Sally Ormond – Freelance copywriter