Fortune 500 companies know that good customer service is a cornerstone of a successful business, and their customer-focused strategies prove it. Smaller businesses may have the advantage of the personal touch. On the other hand, the most successful big businesses give customers what they need when they need it with highly trained, dedicated customer service staff providing 24/7 assistance. Luckily, you don't have to have a Fortune 500 budget to excel in customer service strategies inspired by the big guys.
A Focus on Availability
One of the biggest factors that sets Fortune 500 customer service practices apart from those of other businesses is being available for customers at all times, even if they aren't in store. If your company has a receptionist or other professionals who handle calls, one option is to ensure someone is monitoring the phone while they're on lunch breaks or handling in-store customers. One big limitation of this method is that customers can only complete orders, ask questions or make requests during store hours. Plus, not every employee may have the proper expertise and customer service skills to provide a top-notch customer experience to every caller.
Outsourcing Customer Calls
The solution to a smaller business's limited availability is to outsource customer calls to a call center or answering service. Although many Fortune 500 companies have their own call center staff, others, such as Siemens and IBM, outsource their customer service duties. As of 2016, costs can be as low as $1 per customer call according to Business 2 Community, making this a realistic option even for small companies. Customers can get frustrated when dealing with answering machines, but they feel valued when they can talk to a live person who knows your business and can politely answer questions. Plus, many of these services offer toll-free numbers so customers feel freer to call.
Another advantage of this strategy is the flexibility to meet your business' dynamic customer service needs. An outsourced answering service can add or cut down on staff based on your company's call volume, which is especially useful for seasonal shifts in business demand. Before outsourcing your customer service, weigh its cost versus that of hiring a new, dedicated customer service representative. Then, decide which one makes more sense for your business based on business size and call volume.
Embracing Social Media Connections
Setting up and maintaining corporate accounts on social media allows you to establish a Web presence while providing the opportunity to connect with customers. Timely and courteous answers to complaints or questions via Facebook, Twitter and other platforms help you gain customers' trust. When customers come away satisfied, they're more likely to become loyal to your business.
According to a study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 78 percent of Fortune 500 companies had active Twitter accounts in 2015, up from 62 percent in 2011. The study considered any corporate account that had tweeted within the last 30 days to be active. These numbers show how seriously Fortune 500 companies are taking this essential social media business tool, one that plays a key role in customer connection. In addition, 74 percent of these companies maintain Facebook pages.
Providing Prompt Responses Across Platforms
Just as important as answering every customer call is responding to emails and messages sent via social media. Wherever customers go, they expect the same prompt, courteous response from your employees or contractors. Keep in mind that customers who have access to knowledgeable, fast answers to their questions are less likely to turn to competitors.
Fortune 500 companies owe their success to many factors, but a focus on outstanding customer service is always present. Consider outsourcing certain customer service tasks to ensure your company takes care of every customer in a timely manner, and take advantage of social media and other platforms so customers can choose the contact options to fit their needs. Not only do these Fortune 500 customer service strategies help promote customer loyalty, but they also help increase revenue by driving business. Place a heavy focus on customer service early to help boost business success down the road.
Photo Courtesy of NeneD2 at Flickr.com
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