Customer Service: The New Business Differentiator

Tackling the customer experience head-on

Let’s face it, there is a great deal of competition in every market these days, so the one thing that can and should set you apart is your organization’s customer service. The evolution of business technology has significantly influenced how we manage and approach customer relationships and will continue to set the bar high for customer service going forward. Broadview Networks has tackled the customer experience head-on, by going straight to the source, our customers.

Several years ago, we embarked on a company-wide mission to improve our customer experience. While we had actively collected customer satisfaction data for years, we revamped our organizational structure to more holistically examine the customer experience. We first did this by investing in the third-party measurement experts, PeopleMetrics, for an unbiased view of results and adopted Six Sigma business tools and techniques to standardize processes and training across all departments and all levels of the organization. In addition to having customers rate our overall performance, we regularly gathered feedback through surveys with open-ended questions that encouraged suggestions for improvements. This provided valuable insight into why our customers were giving us the rating they were, what needed improvement and what we were excelling at, all by department.

In addition to sourcing direct customer feedback, the development of a customer advisory board has proven to be invaluable to many organizations in recent years, including ours. While surveys are helpful, they sometimes only scratch the surface. Having a diverse group of customers who know and use your products and services can provide the ultimate focus group. We’ve found that our best improvements for product enhancements, features and service delivery have evolved from this select group.

A major take away from our process, is the need to continuously adapt your support platform to match your customer’s needs and how they prefer to access support. We did this by expanding our online channels to include live chat, email and an interactive, online community. Our online community houses a plethora of information like FAQ, helpful videos, user guides and even allows customers to post their own questions to be answered by our staff. This invaluable resource has given our customers the freedom to find the information they need, whenever they want, 24/7.  

To further adapt your organization to meet the needs of your customers, it’s important to seek out the tools and technology that can improve how you serve them. An act as simple as re-rerouting your calls can make all the difference. Cloud-based phone systems that offer the ability to re-route calls online, from anywhere, provide you with complete control over how your customers calls are handled, no matter what the circumstances are. Just being able to forward your calls to another business number or cell phone in the wake of an emergency or closure will keep your communications intact. Another feature to never go without is auto attendants. Auto attendants serve as virtual receptionists and ensure every call is answered, no matter who is available. They also direct calls and offer the flexibility to customize greetings and menu options, providing callers with the right contact and information for their specific need. The best phone systems, will offer unlimited auto attendants free-of-charge. Call Center Services is another great resource for those who have high volume calls and want to take advantage of call queuing and call recording for more efficient call answering and training.

Not only are the features that your phone system offers critical to how you service customers, but the platform you use to manage them are as well. A benefit of using a phone system that is 100% cloud-based is that everything related to your business: call routing, voicemail, fax, toll-free and video, audio and web conferencing, can be administered online through a secure customer portal. When you have unlimited access to all of your communication services, you can make changes on the fly and ensure your customers have a consistently positive experience, no matter what else is happening.

Almost every for-profit organization has a sales department. Sales by essence, is customer service, only amplified, so it’s crucial to find a way to nurture those relationships as effectively as possible. Applications like CRM Connector for Salesforce® helps to bridge the gap between your communication and sales efforts by having your sales data and phone system work as one. When calls come in, the records of the prospect or customer appear and you know who is calling and the history of your relationship, so you are able to provide more informed and personalized service. Additionally, when making calls, you save a significant amount of time by being able to click-to-dial each contact’s phone number and log call notes, calendar functions and tasks in one central location.

Customer service will forever be the foundation to every business’ssuccess. And now, more than ever, it is the most important way you can differentiate your business from the competition. As technology continues to evolve, it’s important to adapt your methods of support to meet the needs of your customers and embrace the tools that will continue to enhance the level of service you are able to provide.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.