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If there is anything that’s become apparent in 2020, it’s the fact that customers are demanding more in terms of ease of purchase, speed of delivery, and personalized communication. Businesses (including your competitors) that take advantage of this knowledge by positioning themselves appropriately to cater to these needs, will keep their cash flow steady and customer success high.
What contributes to customer success?
To understand how to achieve good customer success, it’s imperative to know the factors that contribute to it. They are as follows:
- Good customer service
- Good communication channels
- Speedy delivery or service times
- Good brand reputation
- Continued support after product purchase
Communication is the thread that holds all these together. For these factors to work, communication must be timely, specific, efficient, and accurate, and good communication is aided by the right communication tools. In this article, we will focus on instant messaging as a veritable means of communication, with examples of how your competition is using it—especially in a time when most people want communication that is timely and responsive.
Competitors using instant messaging
As competitors seek more ways to connect with their customers, instant messaging has become more relevant. This is because the software offers businesses a variety of features to communicate with customers. Whether through text chats, voice call, voice notes, video calls, screen sharing, file transfer, chatbots, live chats or voice assistants, instant messaging brings businesses closer to their customers, creating more room for customer success.
Statista reports that over 2.5billion people worldwide are using instant messaging. This number is expected to reach 3billion by 2022—text messaging is being neglected as most internet consumers use more than one instant messaging app. Your competitors know this, and so should you.
Five ways your competitors are using instant messaging to improve customer success
The top five instant messaging apps, according to Statista, are:
- Instant messaging
Here are five genius ways that your competitors are using instant messaging to improve customer service and boost customer success.
Website interactivity using Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp integration
This is a smooth way to not only encourage customers to chat with your business, but also a way to centralize your communication.
By using these instant messaging options as a live chat feature, you can easily guide your customers through your catalog, product information or assist them in product selection. Think of it as a sales attendant that is available round the clock.
Setting this feature up is easy to do, and you can be chatting with your customers as soon as you want. You may even set the live feature to present more contact options—such as a number, email address, or a physical address—for customers who are unable to find the answers they need from the live chat feature.
If you own an e-store, you should consider using a live chat feature from these instant messaging options, so that customers can receive guidance at every point in time. Customers want to feel that you have personalized their experience with your business; live chat is a good way to achieve this.
Another store option
With instant messaging you can have several mini stores on different platforms and increase your customer support. One of the beauties of instant messaging, is the advantage it gives you to be able to reach customers (new and existing) in places where you could never have reached them physically.
You can proactively take customer service to customers by setting up catalogs on the various instant messaging platforms. As a result, customers are constantly reminded of your products and services, and your ability to cater to their needs no matter where they are. This produces a strong impression of your business’s ability to stay relevant and fosters trust for your brand.
In this podcast about the future of shopping for GenZ shoppers, McKinsey partner Bo Finneman, talks about businesses being on the forefront: ‘… there’s an aspect of “What are you adding to my shopping experience? Why should I buy from you? Is it expertise? Is there something unique in-store? How are you using technology?” On the other end of the spectrum, you see more specialty plays where they’re only displaying their own brand in-store, at which point you have to say, “I really need to stay on top from a product-innovation standpoint in what I’m building to keep reasons for people to come in.”’
So long as you understand the peculiarities of the different instant messaging options, you can do the following things to boost customer satisfaction and success:
- market your goods,
- attend to customer inquiries,
- provide customer support,
- provide more shopping options,
- update customers on new products or product information.
You can do all these from the comfort of your remote location or set up a remote customer service team to attend to customer inquiries—if the effort of doing it all by yourself is overwhelming. Alternatively, you can set up a live chat or chatbot to handle incoming messages, allowing you to reduce man-hour bills and concentrate on other operational functions. By giving customers more options for shopping, you improve their customer success significantly.
A logistics tracking tool
Often deliveries get lost in transit, and it’s up to the customer to use the tracking code to find the location of the package. Take your customer service a step closer, by providing this information to your customer, via your instant messaging tool.
This relieves the customer of the burden of constantly monitoring the tracker. Your business can send updates to customers about unexpected delays, constraints, and the estimated delivery time.
Not only will you secure the confidence of the customer, but you will also have shown that you truly care about their satisfaction—this will undoubtedly keep their loyalty intact. Few things impress customers more than a responsive business that keeps their customers up to date with relevant information.
A feedback tool
Instant messaging is a tool for communication, but it can also be a good tool for data collection. As you serve your customers, you should strive to receive feedback from them constantly, to determine how well you’re doing, what operational activities need to be reviewed, and ways you can continue to improve customer satisfaction.
Conducting polls or quick surveys will help you to maximize the use of instant messaging as a feedback tool. By asking simple questions, you can get the most interesting feedback on your products and customer service.
Getting feedback on instant messaging platforms can be fun and a great way to drive engagement. It can even be a great way to acquaint customers with your goods and services—if you center your feedback request around your products.
A few examples on how to use instant messaging as a feedback tool
Ask questions about your product: E.g., Say hi if you knew that you could get a free sample when you order our banana shampoo.
Offer product choices: Upload two pictures of your products and ask customers to choose the one they prefer. E.g., The white interior design with splashes of gold or the blue interior design with hints of white?
Get feedback on product ideas: E.g., Type “Yes” if you would go on a virtual tour of Paris from your bedroom?
As a follow-up tool
Use instant messaging to keep in touch with new customers in a personalized way. Email outreaches are a great way to communicate with customers, extract feedback, and keep customers updated with upcoming and existing product packages. However, instant messaging gives customers informal access to interact with the business as they wish.
Since one of the features of instant messaging is to communicate in real time, businesses can adopt instant messaging in their business communication, to receive valuable feedback, offer continuing support and maintain a personalized relationship with customers.
Research discovered that customer service experience was more powerful in maintaining customer loyalty than advertising, and that less than half the population sampled revealed that they had enjoyed customer service with brands. It’s safe to say that businesses should channel more efforts towards customer retention that is derived from customer satisfaction, rather than trying to find new customers. Satisfied customers will easily convert to brand ambassadors, telling others about your business.
How to use instant messaging as a follow-up tool
- Ask customers questions every step of the way. Ask them how well they’ve enjoyed your service, and if the product met their expectations.
- Offer ongoing support, even if you’ve stated it somewhere in the product purchase. Let customers know that you really mean to keep in touch with them.
- Be responsive. If you’ve offered support, then you should stay true to your promise by being as responsive as you can be. Don’t take too long to respond to inquiries and resolve customer challenges.
With more non-conventional ways to reach new and existing customers, it’s imperative for businesses to be aware of what their competitors are doing and how they can take advantage of these tactics to improve their customer success. The bottom line is that customers now want more, not just from the product, but also from businesses—it has never been more important to personalize communication with customers.
The key to doing this, is to use a tool like instant messaging to boost communication with customers wherever they may be and improve your customer success. Use instant messaging as:
- a function to improve web store interactivity,
- another store option,
- a logistics tracking tool,
- a feedback tool, and as
- a follow-up tool.
Important things to note when using instant messaging tools
- Keep it professional. Yes, it’s somewhat informal, but keep things professional. Align your communication to your business policy.
- Keep evidence of your communication with customers to avoid future conflicts. Back-up your communication with clients, so you can refer to it if your device crashes.
- Train your remote customer support staff on how to use the technology appropriately and navigate communication challenges.
- Ensure that your communication is specific, timely, and accurate all times—avoid ambiguities.