3 Ways to Build Loyalty Through Low-Effort Customer Service

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3 Ways to Build Loyalty Through Low-Effort Customer Service

03/07/2017
Successful hospitality businesses invest a lot of time and effort in delighting their customers through face-to-face interactions, but with the surge in social media and online experiences, it’s time to think about how to better service customers online as well. Customer loyalty is no longer built solely off of pleasant real-world experiences, as a single poorly-handled online interaction can deter future business.

Traditionally, hospitality companies have approached customer service via phone, email or face-to-face, with detailed protocols, scripts and acceptable response times. However, customers are increasingly turning to social media and messaging apps, such as Messenger for instantaneous issue resolution with the least possible burden of effort, and hospitality companies must adapt or risk losing loyal customers. When responses to these issues come in the form of “email this address” or “call this number,” requiring the customer to switch channels and reiterate their question, the additional effort placed on the customer during this experience can negatively impact the overall customer relationship. In fact, studies indicate that consumers are 4x more likely to be disloyal after a “high effort” interaction (i.e., a customer service request that requires a significant time investment, repetition, incomplete resolution, etc.).
 
In working with dozens of customer-obsessed companies to enhance their customer service strategies, Sparkcentral has seen the loyalty that can result from exceeding expectations and providing customers with low-effort ways to get the answers they need. To help build long-term loyalty, Sparkcentral here provides three key ways to create an effortless customer service experience: 
 
1)   Resolve customer issues immediately – with no transfers. There’s nothing more frustrating to your customers than being transferred from person to person, having to repeat their problems and personal information multiple times. For complex issues, it may seem more efficient to hand over the customer to a more knowledgeable team member to resolve their issue faster, but what kind of message does this send to your customer? Your company doesn’t care enough, your team members are not informed on how to help – or worse, that your company has no desire to provide a solution at all. Instead, empowering customer service teams to illustrate a true desire to help by being honest and personally committing to resolving their problems – even if it takes a bit more time or requires additional resources.
 
2)  Avoid channel-switch responses on social channels. Studies show that 67 percent of consumers are using a company’s social media site for customer service (versus marketing). Despite this fact, it is common for brands to respond to customers’ questions on social channels asking them to call or email (switch channels) for assistance. While this may appear to be a simple request, for your customers, it’s actually a “high effort” interaction, which can significantly tarnish their overall experience. When unhappy customers are turning to Twitter or Facebook to express their issues, often the last thing they want to see in your response is a request for them to call or email another contact and repeat their information all over again.

Avoid this misstep by empowering your customer service team members to become “social media concierges.” For high volume inquiries, this may include investing in technology platforms that better equip omni-channel customer support. For a good example of a hospitality brand providing the ideal and timely responses to customer issues, see the Hilton Hotels & Resorts Facebook page for its visitor posts and replies. Hilton does a great job of providing responses within the hour after an issue was posted, asks that the customer send a private message for any sensitive information and even takes the initiative to look up guest information and contact hotel property managers directly before responding to the customer on Facebook to let them know the issue is being addressed.
 
3)  Remove scripts to provide greater resolution flexibility. A recent Harvard Business Review study broke down the various styles of customer service representatives, finding that personalities with high engagement skills outperformed by-the-book direction followers. Agents who were free to exercise their own judgment in resolving issues resulted in higher customer satisfaction than those interacting with customers based on scripts and one-size-fits-all resolutions. To set the tone for authentic customer engagement, companies must first establish an environment for service teams to resolve inquiries based on their best judgment and provide unique responses to each interaction.
 
When your customer faces a problem, a negative interaction can very easily go viral and tarnish your brand’s reputation. If your customers have to repeat themselves multiple times, if you can’t solve the issue a customer tweeted and/or if robotic responses aren’t answering their questions fast enough, your social customer service channel may be thwarting loyalty. By taking the initiative to ensure online customer engagements meet the same high quality standards of a five-star hotel’s concierge, you’ll ensure that customer delight results in long-term loyalty.