Note from Len
BigCommerce has recently done some really interesting research on what small businesses plan to do in 2017, and in this guest post, Sarah Chambers is going to share what it means for customer service teams. There are four key takeaways that you won’t want to miss.
More customers, more problems, amirite?
92% of online small business expect to grow their revenue in 2017. But growing your business comes with a whole new host of problems to solve. You’ve got more customers to satisfy, potentially more channels to support and more revenue at risk.
The good news is that your support team is here to help. Planning early will help minimize growing pains and even allow you to take advantage of momentum! Getting your support team in shape will maximize customer referrals through happier customers.
We surveyed almost 600 BigCommerce users to understand their 2017 revenue priorities. Read on to discover four ways your support team will shine when it comes to growing your business this year.
Plan to get social
51% of small business owners surveyed believed that Social Advertising would be the top driver of revenue growth in 2017. Becoming more visible on social will attract more customer engagement, and more customer questions on channels that you might not already be active on.
If you’re boosting a Facebook post to potential customers, expect to see a lot more questions about your product. Social advertising opens up your page to an audience that might not be familiar with what you do, and it’s a great place to make a first impression.
When responding to social customer service issues, remember that you’re operating in public. It’s even more important to respond professionally, and quickly. Leaving customer service questions about shipping or product info unanswered will make prospects think twice before purchasing.
Take a look at the example below. Dollar Shave Club has always done an excellent job of answering questions on their Facebook page. They’re polite, friendly, helpful and completely on brand. Their customer service team is a big part of why Dollar Shave Club does so well acquiring customers through social media.
We’re anticipating Facebook and Instagram to remain top channels for social customer engagement this year with 75% of respondents planning to target them more aggressively. If you’re planning to expand your social advertising this year, get your support team prepped and ready for the new channels. For more help on providing quality social customer service, check out Groove’s helpful post here.
Think at scale
What got you here, won’t get you there. 45% of SMBs are planning to grow revenue by more than 25% in 2017. If you’re relying on the same processes to serve your customers as you were a year ago, your front line staff will be overwhelmed.
Instead of working harder, focus on supporting smarter. This means implementing workflows and automations to send questions to the right person at the right time. If you can anticipate customer concerns before they occur, you can provide proactive support to make the process easier. For example, send tracking numbers and updates when the product ships or delays happen.
Your support team can also help reduce support questions by updating the Knowledge Base. When customers have an online place to go to get help, it’s like having a 24/7 customer support team. Your Knowledge Base is always online and always accessible.
Focus on humans, not bots
While turning to our robot friends to manage the increase in customers might be tempting, most small businesses aren’t interested.
When it comes to new technologies like chatbots, only 20% of survey respondents were interested in giving them a test run.
It makes sense to play wait and see with chatbot technology. Customers are looking for a more personal touch when shopping online. They want to be able to reach a human for assistance. A recent study by Accenture Strategy found that 73% of customers prefer human interaction to an automated channel.
Instead of investing in AI, focus on empowering support to have better conversations with customers. Using personalized, genuine recommendations, support can provide an additional revenue stream in cross-selling. Humans are also much better at empathy than robots (at least for now) — meaning they are much more likely to turn a bad situation around.
Bots might be hot in the media, but human connection will continue to beat out automation in reality
Make it multi-channel
Multi-channel retail is here to stay. But supporting multiple channels can cause a lot of strife for front line teams. There’s more ways things can go wrong due to managing logistics across multiple storefronts.
If a centralized inventory isn’t kept up to date, there’s the potential for products to be oversold. This leaves customers frustrated and your support team in a difficult position. Meanwhile, trying to solve a customer issue becomes a nightmare of logging into different platforms, and sorting through order numbers to find the necessary information to provide help.
73% of SMBs are considering expanding to sell on Amazon or Ebay this year. Instead of letting things get out of hand, start planning for multi-channel early. Using an advanced ecommerce platform that combines channels will make managing the additional volume a breeze.
You’ll also want a customer support platform that supports multiple contact channels. Keep contacts from email, live chat and a support widget in one place so nothing gets dropped, no matter where your customers contact you from.
Hoping to grow in 2017? You’re certainly not alone. But leveraging your customer support team will help you grow faster, and with fewer growing pains along the way.
Think multichannel and focus on scaling support to grow your business effectively in 2017!