We started testing it internally for a few weeks, then moved onto a closed beta programme. Our beloved guinea pigs are now able to manage WhatsApp conversations just as easily as emails, chat messages and social media posts, using the Casengo team inbox. Casengo enables them to prioritize messages, assign conversations to team members, view the customer’s history and use pre-set responses to react faster than ever.
Since the start of our WhatsApp adventure, we added the following features:
conversation and case management
follow up with live chat and email
contact online / offline status
Coming up: bigger volumes! We’re now looking for closed beta testers expecting to get 50 to 100 WhatsApp messages a day. Is your company interested in boosting productivity and conversion using WhatsApp for your customer service? Enter your email address here.
We’ll be moving onto open beta this month - stay tuned!
Starting to use any new system can seem overwhelming, but fortunately Casengo isn’t the sort of software with a steep learning curve. You can start using it in a matter of minutes. One part of Casengo that we highly recommend is the knowledge base. This nifty feature, which can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it, is guaranteed to make your working life easier.
What’s a knowledge base?
You can use your knowledge base (KB) to easily share relevant bits of information with your customers. Its main function is to fuel your online list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). And it can also suggest answers automatically when an online visitor asks a question through live chat. A knowledge base basically empowers and stimulates your customers to quickly find the answer to any question they may have. Self-service rules!
When you get started, your KB will be frighteningly empty. All that freedom! Where to begin? That’s why we’ve put together some step-by-step instructions to get you started. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do a whole lot of work to assemble masses of info before you start using your KB. Just add information as and when you need it, and let it grow from there. And don’t forget to add your company logo!
Step 1: Learn how to use your knowledge base effectively
When filling your KB with questions and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), remember all the information in your KB is there for one reason and one reason only: to give potential or existing customers a good and fast answer to a likely question. It’s mostly about obvious stuff, such as payment options, but also about information that didn’t fit neatly into the structure of your website. Don’t be afraid to have just a couple of FAQs in your KB if that’s all you think you need.
You might think that a chock-full KB makes your company look much bigger and more important, but all you’re really doing is hiding the necessary information amongst a lot of unnecessary stuff. And the harder you make it for customers to find the info they need, the less likely they are to buy from you, which is counterproductive. So keep it simple.
Step 2: start offering live chat on your website (if you don’t already)
The knowledge base can be a tremendous asset to live chat. If you combine them, each question entered through live chat is first ‘filtered’ in case it’s an FAQ. If you are using Casengo and have enabled pre-chat, Casengo will provide the relevant articles from your knowledge base in response to each customer’s chat request.
These pre-made responses save time for both you and your customers: the latter are presented with the most relevant link(s) to answer their question and might not even need a live chat conversation any more. And the FAQs also save you time as they make it easier for your customers to help themselves without needing to engage with you. But because they know that you’re there to chat with them if they need it, you get the best of both worlds.
Step 3: Show ’em what you got!
Many businesses seem to think that creating nifty features is enough, but unfortunately that’s not the case: you’ve got to show people what you’ve got. And with a bit of effort up front, you’ll be able to save your customers (and yourselves) an awful lot of time down the track.
So now that you’ve put all this work into putting together the most effective KB possible, you’d better share it with the world. Write a nifty little explanation that you can post on your company’s Facebook Page. Include a link in a prominent place – probably on every page – on your website. Tweet about it. And depending on the type of company you run, a short blurb in your email signature could be just the thing to alert loyal clients to the existence of your new knowledge base.
It can be tempting to believe that building an effective website requires an enormous budget and a massive team, but the truth is that the simplest solutions are often the most effective. When you’re trying to figure out how to compile the best possible knowledge base, remember to make it as simple as possible – without overdoing it. As Einstein allegedly said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Digital leads the way! That’s the main takeaway from the latest survey in international consulting behemoth PwC’s ongoing Consumer Intelligence series. The project, which quizzed more than 1,000 respondents, aims to uncover the truth about how consumers feel about the various channels available to them when accessing customer service.
When it comes to customer service, companies have been slow to keep up with the changing preferences of today’s consumers. The near-ubiquity of the internet throughout the West has meant that some 60% of people in the US have not just one but a selection of online channels in their pockets or handbags, almost 24 hours a day (and 80% even sleep with their phones switched on).
Sadly, far too many businesses have chosen to ignore reality in favour of what suits their old-fashioned company structure and working methods, and tend to think of customer service as a ‘damage control’ option rather than what it has become: something that the average respondent has contacted more than twice in the past 6-9 months.
Pay to call you? Not likely!
Whoever came up with the idea that customers should pay to get assistance must have considered himself a sheer genius. “Not only will we make money to cover our customer service costs, but it actually provides us with an incentive to do things badly! Win-win!”
Sorry – it was fun while it lasted, but the party’s over. The vast majority of respondents don’t want to pay for the ‘privilege’ of using their preferred contact method, regardless of what it is. And that goes for the channels they’re highly satisfied with too.
Unhappy customers still spread the word
While 41% of respondents are happy to use online chat to get in touch, it’s not their favourite digital channel. That honour goes to email, with 55% of those surveyed being keen on the medium. And it seems that the old cliché still holds true: an unhappy customer tells far more people about their experience than a happy one does. “Disgruntled customers will air their grievances on more venues (2.1) than those who had a good encounter (1.7).”
In other words: you have more to lose by giving poor service than you stand to gain by providing good service. That, though, is as it should be. You want your customers to be able to take your great service for granted, right?
Don’t just be fast, be effective
Time and again, customers share the same concerns about customer service levels, which makes us wonder why so many businesses still aren’t getting the message. A hefty 66% of respondents said that they were somewhat to very dissatisfied with digital customer service channels.
For 41% of these, satisfaction would be increased if the company would simply fix the customer’s problem. Yes, you read that right – customers simply want you to help them. They want to deal with reps who show more concern about their specific problem and are more knowledgeable about the issues raised. The fastest response times in the world won’t get you far if you’re still not addressing the reason the customer contacted you in the first place.
The results of the PwC survey shouldn’t be earth-shattering, yet it seems that they repeat a message that many businesses today just don’t want to hear. The world of customer service has changed, and it’s not going back. You need to be able to provide fast and – much more importantly – effective service to the people who essentially pay your wages.
The main takeaway for businesses could be summed up in just a single word: care. You’d better care about your customers, care about what they want and what they need from your business. And it seems that what they want, right now, is for you to solve their customer service problems. Do you care enough to do so?
Customer service is one of the most effective marketing tools a company has at its disposal. Providing prompt and effective responses to customer queries is the best way to encourage a sale.
Think of it this way: if a customer asked you a question in real life, you wouldn’t ignore it, give a robot-like canned reply, or just wave vaguely. You would do your very best to provide a helpful answer. Surprise surprise, online customer service is no different.
Unfortunately, the poor standard of online service today suggests that many web store owners simply think “build it, and the customers will come”. They’re wrong: good customer service is a surefire way to ensure more repeat business and ultimately improve your bottom line.
See things through the customer’s eyes
Customer service is not just a box to be ticked when you’re setting up a company; the customers are your business’s raison d’être and if you want to maximise profits, you’d better treat them accordingly.
Virgin Hotels know this: in their new Chicago building the phone in each room has just one button aside from the dial pad. That button is labelled ‘YES!’ and is the only one guests need when they want something. No need to figure out whether they need the kitchens, the front desk, the valet, the housekeeping department … just press the button and let the company do the rest of the work. That’s truly customer-oriented service.
It’s the polar opposite of the email service I received from another international brand, when the response to my query was to ask me to click on a link and trawl through a list of all of their offices worldwide to find out which one I should contact. Did they get my business? I’ll let you guess.
Make it personal
Doing business online can feel anonymous. Sometimes that’s okay, but your business might attract the type of customer who wants to feel recognised and appreciated. I recently bought some crockery from Dutch webshop Dames van de Thee. The transaction was straightforward and I didn’t need – nor want – any additional correspondence from the business.
But they found a way to show me that my business was appreciated by tucking two generously-sized samples of loose tea into the parcel, along with some teabags. That was enough to show me that my purchase was appreciated, they were detail-oriented, and they really hoped I would come back.
Even when doing business online, actions can speak louder than words. That little gesture was much more effective than the most gushing email telling me how much they appreciated my business.
Customer service: not an optional extra
In face-to-face retail, the motto is “If the customer can’t see a price, chances are they won’t buy it.” That isn’t really an issue in a webshop (if it is, you need to have an urgent discussion with your web designer). But it has an online equivalent – if the customer can’t get answers to their questions, chances are they won’t be back.
Most online retailers don’t realise this. They see customer service as an optional extra, a ‘nice-to-have’, but something that doesn’t impact their bottom line. They couldn’t be more wrong! A rapid reply is a key factor in determining whether or not a customer will go ahead with a purchase.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has just released what may turn out to be the customer service report of the decade (PDF). Almost 500 CMOs and senior marketing executives from around the world shared their thoughts on the future of marketing. The key takeaway? Within just a few years, not the customer service guys and gals but *the marketing team will be responsible for customer experience.
Don’t sit around and wait for this inevitable trend to happen: make some changes now to serve your customers even better in the future (and keep your job secure to boot). We’ve picked out some of the report’s crucial points to get you started.
1. The nature of engagement is changing
Thanks to the internet and, in particular, social media, old-fashioned ideas of brand engagement are a thing of the past. While customers who simply love what your brand stands for are still important, capturing their attention is no longer just a question of constructing an image and sitting back to see who it appeals to.
As engagement becomes increasingly two-way thanks to social media, customer service staff need to work closely with marketing staff to ensure that each and every communication encapsulates the brand’s message. Don’t leave brand image completely to the marketing team – the way you handle your customers is the most essential aspect. Treat your customers badly and they won’t come back = end of engagement. Treating them well and upholding your brand label is the essence of the new customer engagement.
2. Digital, digital, digital
When asked the areas in which they need to develop skills in their marketing operation, 39% of respondents said that technology & digital engagement were their top focus. Surprising? Not really. Given that even customer service departments – which are currently at the forefront of digital engagement – appear to be having trouble keeping up with consumers’ technology use, it’s not exactly eyebrow-raising that marketers aren’t on top of things either.
Businesses (like yours) which conduct online customer service have a head start in this area, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to be complacent. Brush up on how to write great customer service emails that actually answer your customers’ questions; assist customers on their preferred channels; keep a watchful eye on new developments (for example the increasing popularity of WhatsApp). If your company’s marketing department is angling to take over your duties, snooze and you will lose control of this side of things.
3. Take the lead in the customer experience
Traditionally the customer service department was responsible for customer experience. Essentially, the business created and provided a product or service, the marketing department promoted it, and customer service staff took it from there. According to the report, around a third of marketing staff are currently in charge of managing the customer experience – but 75% say that they will be responsible within three to five years.
Unless you’re planning to be retired by then, you’d better take a proactive look at how you can start integrating some of those marketing duties into your customer service tasks. Customer service departments need to create their own roadmaps of the customer journey to ensure that they’re not missing out on opportunities to improve the customer experience. In customer service, as in life, the squeaky wheel gets the oil – those who complain are the ones who get assistance (in an ideal customer service model, anyway).
The question is what happens to the customers who don’t reach out to your service department. Close co-operation with the marketing department can help you to create ways of keeping in touch with these customers before you lose them – or before you are simply asked to hand your responsibilities over to the marketing department.
It would be ridiculous for us to suggest that we can tell you how to revamp your company’s customer service approach in one short blog post. However, it’s important to realise that the writing is on the wall for the traditional separation of marketing and customer service. The time to start looking at alternatives is now, because the changes are coming whether you’re ready or not.