You’ve Been Thinking About Customer Service All Wrong: This is The Digital Age, Baby!
Customer service is about solving the problems of your customers. Whose job is customer service? The truth is, customer service is the responsibility of everyone in your company. Building a brand means delivering on a promise again and again. It means consistency and maintaining effective customer relationships.
But what about today? How has this changed? Today, brands are working their butts off to build out and maintain their digital footprints — this means their business/brand is ‘open’ (at the very least openly visible) 24/7.
How Does a Business Approach & Maintain a New Definition of Customer Service Today?
Now, companies have to manage customer service across multiple channels. When people have a negative experience online, they blame the company. Not responding to customers on review sites and social media is worse than having a phone line that goes unanswered, because there are thousands of people witnessing the neglect.
Digital Customer Service: 10 Actionable Tips To Impress and Better Convert Customers
1. Respond to reviews quickly
When customers take time to leave a business a review, it’s essential to respond in a timely manner. Nearly nine in ten consumers read online reviews to determine the credibility of a business, and it’s important they see that the business has an active, responsive voice. Not only will other people who visit the review site see the response, but it’s possible those people could share the review and response with their own networks. All reviews should be acknowledged by your business. The only exception to this is star-only rating reviews. These are permitted on Facebook and a few other top review sites.
2. Provide a consistent experience
Depending on the type of product or service that you offer, customers may interact with several people at the company before the final transaction. Your business needs to make sure that throughout the entire experience, that your customers are having positive interactions. The same story should resonate throughout your customer service efforts, and that story should be customer-centric.
Apple is an example of a company that provides a consistent experience throughout their customer funnel. From their website with its sleek, minimalist design to the simple and elegant phone you take home, Apple products and website offer a cohesive experience.
3. Experience your customer journey
Most businesses have put together their online presence somewhat piecemeal—create an account on one social platform, add chat integration to the website, build a blog, expand offerings, etc. While this is the most common way to build out a business, it doesn’t always equal the most seamless customer journey. Go through your buyer’s process. Search for yourself online, look at the website content, sign up for the newsletter, etc. Note any bumps and bruises you find along the way and how you can make the whole experience more cohesive.
4. Use social media as a two-way street
Perhaps the best thing about social media is that it means a sort of democracy for customers and businesses alike—everyone is on the same playing field. While social media can be tiresome, let’s be sure we don’t ruin one of the best things about it—the fact that consumers can have conversations with businesses. Share helpful content, engage with consumers and occasionally share promotional info about your products or services. Asking questions, holding competitions and sharing content relevant to your audience are all good ways to engage with consumers. Don’t just talk, listen.
5. Have a high performing website
People visiting your website are not patient so your business needs to have a webpage and assets that load quickly. Nearly 50% of consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less, anything longer than that, consumers start dropping off. The abandonment rate for viewers waiting to start up a video is a steady curve up and to the right. When website visitors have a poor experience on a company website, they blame the company, not Google, wifi issues or whatever else may be the problem.
6. Open communication and transparency
Consumers can detect sales-y language from a mile away. It’s best to be direct about your offerings, and even your shortcomings. Nail your sales approach and provide consumers the information they’re looking for. Even if you are unable to solve every problem your customers have, they’ll appreciate your honesty and will be less likely to leave. Set your brand voice, share your truths. Being honest with consumers, even if it appears to be a negative, usually pays off.
7. Get your listings right
Having a thorough understanding of listings is essential in the digital space. Getting business listing information accurate (name, address, and phone number) across the web, though, is one of the most important things your business can do to create a better digital customer service experience. There are many important directory and listing sites. Also, having correct listings with the four major data aggregators (Factual, Acxiom, Neustar-Localeze, and Infogroup) is one of the keys to disseminating accurate listing data across the web.
8. Positive attitude
The power of a positive attitude and its influence on customers should never be underestimated. Optimism is a cornerstone of customer service. Small changes in language and wording can make a huge impact on customers:
Option one: I’m sorry, we won’t have that product in our software this month.
Option two: That functionality will be available at the beginning of next month! Our development team is hard at work on a few other features that are useful to you, as well…
Abrasive or abrupt language is very off putting in customer service, even if it is not directly rude or negative.
9. Use email effectively
Make sure when you email your customers, that you have something to say. The communication should be timely, relevant and helpful. Having an effective call to action is essential—give them a reason to read and engage with the email. An automated newsletter is fine and can be a good piece of communication, but never have a do not reply email.
10. The heartbeat of digital customer service
Your customers may say they want the best product, and that they want it at the best price. While that is true, what they want most is authenticity. Authenticity is delivering on a promise. Authenticity is consistency. Authenticity is digital customer service.
Digital Marketing Trends: What to Look For in 2019
There are a lot of changes that have been witnessed in the digital marketing world. These are things that are associated with PPC, SEO, social media, as well as content marketing. There are times in the past when it was easy to dismiss things like visual search and artificial intelligence but that time has passed.
Today, there are many strategies and trends that are emerging in the digital marketing world and they keep on evolving with new technologies.
Key Digital Trends: 2019
It’s always important to appreciate that, in the digital world, things are dynamic. If you don’t stay in step with the changes, then you will not be relevant to the audience. As such, it is important for businesses to find out what is trending and what is no longer being used. When you know the strategies, you’ll be able to compete more effectively. You will also have a better chance of gaining more customers and retaining them.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm and this is with a good reason. Artificial intelligence is able to analyze the different behaviors of the consumer as well as search patterns. AI can also utilize the data retrieved from different social platforms as well as blog posts so that businesses can understand just how their customers and the users engage with services and products.
AI also offers tips and information to the users by simply engaging them in more natural conversations. It is projected that a greater percentage of the customer service will be utilizing AI Chatbot technology. If your business adopts AI, it will be possible to save costs and also grow more rapidly.
This is the use of AI to automate the process of buying ads. This will allow you to target audiences in a more targeted, relevant manner. Programmatic bidding in the real time as well as auctions are good examples of the programmatic ad buying. This translates to higher conversion rates as well as lower cost of customer acquisition.
Chatbots are an effective part of marketing digitally. Chatbots are a technology that is AI-aided and makes use of instant messaging so that people can engage in real time; regardless of the time of day or night. Chatbots can help businesses save a lot of money each year — especially in the healthcare and banking industries.
There are customers who have a preference for chatbots because they tend to be more responsive. In such a case, you receive prompt answers. Chatbots are able to recall a customer’s entire history with ease and speed. A Chatbot does not lose its patience, either. These virtual assistants offer customer service that is another way to appeal to a customer base with varying needs and goals. Chatbots are able to meet the expectations of the customers and they can also handle repetitive tasks; allowing you to focus on other areas of growing and maintaining your business.
Anyone who wants to make it big in the coming year has to personalize their marketing. This means that you should personalize your emails, products, content, and so on. Data is usually readily available. You can access the purchase history of a consumer, their behavior, and even any links that have been clicked. This means that it is very easy to have custom content ready in the wings. Personalization is a great way in which customer relationships can be advanced with meaning.
The above trends and strategies should be monitored very closely in the coming year as they will mean a lot to online marketers and the businesses they work with. You need to have a well-thought-out strategy if you really want to stand out from the crowd. You should also look into influencer marketing, which is basically word of mouth from people who have a large following in your industry or niche.
You can also not ignore the social messaging apps. A lot of messages are sent every day on different platforms. Marketing where people are, is one of the best ways to get meaningful leads and conversions.
I don’t need to give you a statistic to tell you that these days it’s hard to find a person without a mobile device in arm’s reach. As a culture, it is now more socially acceptable than ever to always have your cell phone with you; according to Zenith, mobile internet use is expected to reach 80% in 2018. Let’s talk the fastest way to lose your users, as the world jumps from desktops to the palm of your hand.
- 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site.
- A website not optimized for mobile traffic is no longer an option if you want to keep your audience happy.
- According to comScore, users spend 69% of their media time on smartphones on average.
For an audience spending almost 70% of their time on their smartphones, it makes sense to make sure that the experience is a good one. How do you do that? How do you make the jump from a web browser on a 17-inch screen to a 5-inch screen seamless?
Make sure you’ve got the following basics covered:
- Is the site mobile responsive? A mobile responsive website is a website that scales to the size of the device that is being used to view it.
- Make it easy to read.
- No one wants to struggle reading the copy on the site. Make sure it’s large and legible!
- Does the site load quickly on mobile?
- According to Google if a mobile site doesn’t load within 3 seconds, yes I said seconds, 53% of people will leave. Make sure you test load times.
- More pictures, less text.
- People digest content differently on mobile. Tell your story with images rather than text, do it. It’s important to note that you must still maintain an image that fits with mobile and that it is branded accordingly.
- Is the experience seamless?
- If you have videos on the desktop site, can they still be viewed from mobile? How about your live chat? Do people struggle to click on the menu? You’ll want to be sure that everything on the site is still accessible on mobile, not offer a stripped down site.
The future isn’t mobile marketing, it’s now. Don’t lose opportunities because you’re not prepared. Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve found that work well? Leave us a comment!
Not all digital agencies are created equally. Take a moment and check out 5 of the best practices that anyone running their own digital agency should adhere to.
- You’ve identified your ideal client. Knowing who’s out there looking for you and your services makes marketing yourself a bit easier. If you have existing clients, you’ve profiled them and pulled out the qualities you need to look for in potential clients. You’ll use this information to create more targeted content, increase personalization in your marketing efforts and hopefully draw in more of your ideal clients.
- You have an established way to qualify leads. One sure fire way to improve conversion rates and lower the amount of time and energy spent by your sales guy is to have a set in stone way to qualify a lead. This goes hand-in-hand with identifying your ideal client. Create a list of ideals you want in a potential client – oh wait, you already did. Then make a list of other characteristics you need in a potential client, i.e what’s their timeline? Do they have the budget for you and the authority to make the call?
- Set Goals. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? Setting goals will help to drive your agency to innovate and remain on the cutting edge. It will force you to get out there and set sales goals, and meet those sales goals. It will let you know if something isn’t working, because you won’t be hitting those goals. Sit down, brainstorm, write out your goals and get hustling.
- Organize. Be organized fresh out of the gates. Have your processes in order from the beginning, both internally and externally. Know how you’ll keep your records, as well as how you’ll pay invoices as well as send them. On the client experience side of things, make sure you’ve built out those processes. How will the client on-boarding go? How will the client know how to reach out if a problem arises. Have you built out timelines? The sooner you’ve created these processes, the more smoothly your agency will run.
- Build the Brand. Build the brand with everything you do. Listen to what people have to say and get yourself out and in front of people whether you’re walking the dog, or standing in front of the local Chamber. Make a point to know your business from the ground up. If you don’t know your product you’ve got a problem. Have a great interaction with a client? Ask for a testimonial. Build the brand and get social proof every step of the way.
These are by no means a comprehensive list of best practices a digital agency should follow, just some of the more important ones. Be sure to follow our blog for more information on all topics marketing and business. Do you have a best practice to share? Leave it in the comments.
If you’ve already read our blog “Digital Marketing Agencies: To Niche or Not to Niche” you’ve made the decision to focus your digital marketing agency on a particular section of your local market. Congratulations! You are already taking a step on the road to success! Read on to find out the 5 benefits of niche marketing!
The 5 Benefits of Niche Marketing
Less Competition! Did you think you’d find less competition? Well guess what? There is! Not every company decides to niche down. Some prefer to have access to a broad audience, or they do not realize the benefits in scaling down. Either way you’ve found yourself in a market where there isn’t as much competition for the businesses you’ll target. Get out there and get your piece of the pie!
Less Initial Capital: Having decided to target a select group of individuals or businesses, you’ll spend less on your initial marketing blitz. You don’t need to create content for multiple platforms to apply to many different consumers in the audience, you just need to build the materials that will interest the one audience you’ve chosen.
Less Work: You are ahead of the game because you already know your audience. You’ve chosen to niche down your market and as such, you’ve taken out much of the guesswork. Agencies that don’t niche have a broad audience. An audience with a lot of different needs that they will have to get a handle on. Time and money will go into understanding that broadly audience.
Brand Loyalty: Niche marketers know the market so thoroughly that they meet and anticipate their audience’s needs. This helps them to build brand ambassadors who spread their stories of this ‘great company’ to all of their associates. They also become repeat customers. Continue building your army, by making each customer experience a success!
Thought Leadership: It is much easier to become an expert on a singular topic than it is to become an expert on many. Just like building brand loyalty, having invested the time in learning one particular section of the market allows you to become the expert.
Finished here? Be sure to check out the benefits of becoming your own digital marketing agency here, with the help of DMTG. Do you have any benefits of niche marketing we didn’t cover? Leave us a comment.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” and while that may apply to the dating world, when it comes to targeting an audience for your business that can be daunting. A niche market is, by definition, a section of a market on which there is a particular targeted focus.
Focusing on a smaller subsection of the market can make it easier to stand out in a crowd (like wearing that day glo shirt) and can help you build faster, stronger brand recognition.
To niche or not to niche? Ask yourself if:
You have a particular background or passion that you are an expert in. Do you have a background in IT? You could begin to target IT companies that need marketing. Not everyone sets out meaning to target a certain audience, sometimes it happens organically.
You’ve ascertained that the industry you wish to begin targeting is large enough to sustain your company for years to come. You may have a love of roller derby and wish to begin targeting your local roller rinks, but not every town has a roller rink and many are struggling to remain open.
Suggestions for industries to look for are boundless. Search the local businesses in your area and see which type of business comes up the most. Manufacturing? Healthcare? These are the industries to target (combined with those you have knowledge of and interest in).
You’re prepared to compete. Not every niche market is appealing to the big box companies offering the sames services as you. Eventually, though, there may come a time when you have to compete with the GoDaddy or ConstantContact’s of the world. Are you ready for that? Can you showcase the value in your services and build a relationship with the client?
Stay tuned for the next blog in our niche series! As always feel free to reach out to us with any questions.