Customer Service in the Digital Age

Beta testing for customer service

It’s a brave new world, well in some cases, it’s not so brave. The internet troll phenomenon is just one instance of the new customer service challenges faced by businesses, across all industries, in a digital world.

Cyber-bullying isn’t limited to teenage back-biting, it is a very real problem for businesses trying to manage their digital reputation. Trolls can target businesses or products – for any number of reasons or none at all – and undergo a sustained program of social media ambushes.

However, Luke McCormack, operations manager Hong Kong’s First Page, says the digital landscape can have more peaks than troughs, with a little attention.

How has customer service changed in the Digital Age?

“The biggest thing that has changed over the past 10 years is the amount of technology used by consumers,’’ said Luke. “But the real digital force is the shift in customers’ expectations and behaviors.’’

This was explained in term of touch points, or mediums where interactions occur between customers and business. Whereas 10 years ago there were fewer connections and the expectation of customer service was lower through the digital mediums. Today expectancy is high and opinion is instant.

“The average client today is much more tech-savvy,’’ said Luke. “Services have increased across multiple channels, the ability for feedback also exists across those channels and so does the capacity for mistakes to be made.’’

The real digital force is the shift in customers’ expectations and behaviors,’’ Luke McCormack, First Page.

How do you know what customers want?

First Page is rated as Hong Kong’s number one search engine optimisation (SEO) company by TOPSEOs, as such the operations manager has his finger on the pulse of what his clients want, and he believes that investment in a digital strategy to measure expectation is vital in business today.

“We find, if you know what your customers want, then you have a better chance of providing them with a positive experience,’’ said Luke.

“You need to make sure your strategy is holistic and integrated across all channels, especially in a compact local community like Hong Kong. We do this by providing more opportunities for our clients to give us feedback, so we can adjust to their needs.’’

One of the tools First Page employs is email-based surveys related to customer service. They are asking for real-time information and are responding based on their findings. The form and medium these conversations can take is almost limitless.

Omi-channels – advantage or hindrance?

With more customer interaction, there is huge potential for failure, because if you can’t deliver on promises, or if you have a poor attitude towards service, people will find out very quickly. It only takes a spate of complaints on Twitter or Facebook, or a few bad reviews on your website to derail a project or product line.

But on the flip-side, if you can measure what your clients want and engage them to leave positive messages across the various touch points, you will be the preferred choice when other variables are much the same.

‘’There are more opportunities for companies to find out who their customer is, and what they want. This can enable you can provide the best service you can and encourage positive responses,’’ said Like.

“Businesses should always monitor social media feeds and websites on a daily basis to make sure no problems, or opportunities are being missed.’’

6 ways to improve and maintain your reputation customer service

Luke said he promotes these First page tenants to ensure “we are creating loyalty through customer service.’’

1. Unified cross-channel services – having a social media strategy is a must in today’s user-driven technological environment. However, this should not replace, but compliment, traditional forms like email or phone, or face to face – they should work seamlessly together.

2. Face-to-face interaction is a must, if possible – you can give many guarantees across different platforms, but nothing creates trust, rapport and relationships like the personal touch.

3. Communicate with your customers regularly – tell your customers what is happening in your business, let them know about new developments and new products. In turn, listen to their responses, the insights could be invaluable.

4. Performance measurement is vital – measure, test and measure again. You will only know what your clients want if you ask them. There is no excuse for guesswork with today’s instantaneous mass communication technologies.

5. Encourage positive feedback – this is a blog topic in itself, but promotions, prizes, samples and exclusive pre-ordering are all ways to engage positive posts from your clients. Be inventive.

6. Don’t engage in open combat with a troll – never involve your business in a public spat with serial complainers. A good way to resolve this is to say, “we can certainly help put this right, if you would like to contact us via email’’, which encourages a private resolution. By the same token, pick your public response carefully, everyone and anyone could be watching.