As a CEO of a growing technology company I’ve had my fair share of LinkedIn messages, emails and conference presentations. Every year it’s always the same declaration that a tactic is now dead or the latest buzzword is the “next big thing”.
In the last five years we’ve had content marketing, big data, SoLoMo, gamification, blockchain etc. Each one has been heralded by the gurus, ninjas and “experts” as something that I absolutely must be doing in my business to survive online. I always eagerly wait for someone to actually hit the nail on the head, but I’m always left disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, all of these tactics and approaches have their place and some are wildly exciting and innovative, but too many get caught up in trying to “find the next big thing”. Ironically, the latest next big thing is one of the oldest lessons in the book – customer service.
When I started RAM Tracking in 2004 I made a conscious decision to position the company as an online-first vehicle tracking provider. We invested in our website, social media, email marketing, PPC and SEO. Before I spent a single penny on any of these though I made sure that the culture right throughout my team was that customer service was the most important element.
Gartner revealed over 50 per cent of businesses plan to reinvest in improving customer service experience. Another study showed that 72 per cent of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people. Getting your customer service right not only improves retention and brand reputation, but it reduces the reliance on new business through upselling to an already captive audience.
With this in mind, I’ve written down some of the core activities I believe every small business should be doing in 2018 to improve customer service experience online.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is vital for maintaining a positive customer service. Not only does it allow your business to track and view the entire sales journey from initial click through to repeat orders, but it gives your entire team (from telesales through to social media) access to a customer’s history in seconds. Having all of that information at your fingertips instantly means that representatives of your company appear knowledgeable, up to speed and can help understand the customer’s business and relationship with you.
Segmentation for all activity
Blanketing your customers with the same messaging and content is likely to see your engagement rates drop, bounce rates increase and annoy your customer base. One of the benefits of using CRM is that you can categorise your customers based on their location, revenue and what product/services are applicable to them. We learnt early on that sending sales content to customers who already utilise all our services would only have a negative effect.
In a competitive marketplace creating content can be a difficult task. In many instances it’s hard to differentiate from what has been said already. There is a temptation to create content that is off-brand or even irrelevant in a bid to be more creative. Alternatively, if you’re trying to improve your organic search performance, a poor but common approach is to create content solely for search engines.
Instead, look to create value for your customers. Have your content and customer services team sit down, discuss what the most frequently asked questions are on the phone and then go away and create this content to help answer it. Not only will this help your site rank for intent-based questions for SEO but it’ll give your customer service team an asset to be able to direct customers to.
Make referral rewarding
As previously mentioned, the power of referral or word of mouth is enormous, yet many businesses do little to tap into it. Set up a simple referral scheme that rewards loyal customers for recommending you. Rewarding them with a £25 or £50 Amazon voucher is a great way of incentivising and encouraging this behaviour. In many industries a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) of £25 is likely to be substantially less compared to PPC.
Constant customer feedback
The most important of all my tips is to be never scared of seeking out feedback. Without it, it’s hard to know where to start (or even identify if there is a problem). We regularly work with the IIC (Investor In Customers) to have our customer service independently assessed. From some of the feedback we received, we made changes quickly to improve upon these areas and saw our rating go from two star to the top standard of a three star rating.
This isn’t something we do every few years to get a nice accreditation, but something we aim to do this every six months. It allows us to adapt and evolve our offering with customers’ expectations, new technology and gives my management team benchmarks to measure against.
All in all, investing in customer service doesn’t need to be tasking. By making a few steps you can improve the way your brand is perceived, how many customers you retain for repeat business and improve internal operation efficiencies.
Chris McClellan is CEO at RAM Tracking