Here are five ways your company can get in on the action:
Mobile Loyalty Apps
One classic way to retain repeat customers is by using a loyalty card. For example, a bowling alley might give a free game to any patron who bowls 10 games and records each round by stamping a customized business card. Actual loyalty cards, though, are an extra hassle for customers and customer service representatives alike to remember.
Technology brings the concept of loyalty cards to contemporary society by providing loyalty applications for smartphones. These apps are free for customers to use to use and available for iOS and Android devices alike. Spending a little time to set up a loyalty application can pay huge dividends through repeat customers and increased satisfaction.
Customer Relationship Management
Businesses that rely on repeat customers need to keep careful track of relationships with those customers. The most basic customer relationship management programs collect customers' contact information, preferences and known issues in a central database, which in itself is very helpful.
For businesses that are serious about tracking their valuable customers, though, more advanced programs can give customers interactive access to create their own requests, track the status of those requests and submit questions and comments electronically. Some even include online forums that allow customers to interact with each other as well as customer service representatives. Any business, large or small, can benefit from more efficient customer relationship management.
Easy Payment Options
Many small businesses in particular find themselves losing business because they take cash only. In today's society, consumers often prefer not to carry much if any cash in their wallets, doing business with credit and debit cards instead.
Address this issue by using smartphone technology to accept payment via credit card, debit card or PayPal; customers can sign right on the device, so there is no wasted paper, and payments can be processed and deposited within one business day. Using this technology can help customer service adapt to an increasingly cashless world.
One of the biggest criticisms of technology in the world of customer service is that it tends to eliminate the human element. Customers are forced to wait on hold for hours on end or deal with automated systems that are often more frustrating than helpful.
Ultimately, even if an automated system can get the job done, many customers would like to speak with an actual human representative, and technology seems to stand in the way.
Instead of using technology as a replacement for human interaction, find ways for it to help enhance conversations. If customers must be put on hold, give them an estimated wait time and customizable music options. If they need to be transferred from one department to another, or if a call has to be interrupted, call them back immediately. If a customer has no choice but to leave a message, be sure to return his or her call promptly. Finally, consider using embedded chat rooms to let customers interact directly with representatives through text.
Though most customers prefer to work through especially difficult or complex transactions with a human representative, many like to make routine decisions and solve minor problems on their own. To keep these customers happy and free up actual representatives for more complex situations, create as many self-service options as possible. Even a step as simple as posting store hours online or providing a comprehensive list of available products can make a customer's experience easier and take a lot of strain off employees.
Some businesses benefit greatly from more advanced self-service technology, such as fully automated kiosks. Any automated system should be accompanied by some source of feedback, such as a web form that asks customers whether they found the website helpful and whether they have any suggestions for improvement.
This is a gust post from Philip J Reed on behalf of Dex One, providing local marketing solutions for your business