As the new year approaches, it is time for businesses to make plans and goals for 2019. This is especially important for a customer service department that tends to get ignored but is an essential part of doing business. With social media and review sites making it easier than ever for bad reviews to take down a business, customer service needs to be ready and able to make a good impression and keep customers happy. Here are some of the top tips for 2018 for customer service.

Create efficiency

An efficient customer service department will be extremely successful. It will mean customers won’t have to wait on hold for 20 minutes every time they have a question, and it means they’ll be able to answer questions and concerns faster and with more ease. Here are a few ways to improve efficiency.

    • Artificial Intelligence: Use of an AI chatbot to respond to texts, chats, and even emails is the next big thing. You probably haven’t even realized you’ve likely used one before in a conversation with a company. It will make it so employees don’t have to waste time on repetitive questions and can focus their energy on special issues that need human interaction.
    • More Responsibility: Give customer service agents more responsibility and the ability to do more. Customers hate being transferred from one person to the next over and over when all they need is a simple refund or help understanding their bills. Using AI chatbot helps with this too since simple, repetitive questions can be answered by a chatbot and agents will only be dealing with more extensive issues.
    • Proper Training: If your employees haven’t been trained on how to efficiently handle customer complaints, they won’t be successful or efficient at their jobs. This is especially important when a new promotion or product is out, and the employees need to have all information about that promotion or product. Make sure to get your customer service department the proper training in the new year, so they are prepared for whatever may come.

Focus on communication

Being able to communicate with a business, even if it is a simple need, is necessary for today’s population. People want to be able to do 10 different things at once, meaning they are really only focusing on your conversation a little bit here and there instead of dedicating their whole efforts on the communication. It should be super easy to send a text message, chat on social media, email, or online chat on the website with a business.

One example is of a customer who works full time but needs to ask a quick question about your product before making a purchase decision after they get off work. If that person can simply send a text in between work assignments and check it when they have time instead of having to dedicate time to a conversation, they are much more likely to communicate their needs and make the purchase. In 2018, businesses should plan to have everything in place to make it so customers can contact them in whatever way they feel is comfortable and whatever way is most convenient for them.

Human contact is still necessary

In many instances, customers have simple questions that can easily be answered by a chatbot. However, customers who are frustrated or already unsatisfied with their purchase will likely want to make a call and speak with a representative. This should be as easy and efficient as possible. Make sure they don’t have to wait on hold by offering a callback instead of making them wait for a representative to be available. When they finally do get through, they should be met with a human voice instead of dealing with an automated machine. They also want to hear someone on the other end who can actually help them instead of being transferred over and over again. And that person needs to have the ability to actually fix their problem. Human contact is not always needed when it comes to customer service, especially as we dive into more AI in 2019, but availability will always be a necessity.

Avoid charging extra fees

In 2019, most companies won’t charge extra fees for things like return shipping on a defective product. Businesses who still charge restocking fees, return shipping fees, or anything else similar can expect to see a mass exodus of current customers to sites like Amazon where they make it a lot easier. A customer is usually already frustrated when they have a defective product, so adding the pain and frustration of having to deal with fees to have it returned will likely mean a lost customer.

Overall, in 2019, things are getting very competitive for customer service departments online. It may take some work to keep up, but in the end, it will be worth it to keep your audience happy.