How to create a strong service image online

Imagine walking into a store with unlabeled aisles, broken price scanners, and zero employees in sight. It’s difficult to find what you want, so you wander around aimlessly, growing increasingly frustrated. By the end of the experience, you may or may not make a purchase, and you’ll probably never return. Why would you? In the face of wasted time and confusion, most people would take their business elsewhere – and fast.

Trying to navigate an unkempt website and mismanaged customer support system can be a similarly frustrating experience. Making your website a place where customers can interact comfortably with your team is key to maintaining a strong image of good customer service.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can improve the tangible aspects of your service – the look, feel, and delivery – to increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Use Multiple Support Channels, Including Social Media

There are as many preferences as there are people, and offering only one manner of support can inconvenience loyal customers. Most companies offer at least phone and email support, and it’s easy to see why.

If you work 9-5, and a company’s support line hours are 9-5, it is difficult if not impossible for you to make a successful call to that company. Having access to an email service would be far more useful in your scenario – you could draft and send the email on your own time, then have a response waiting for you the next work day.

Of course, email is only useful for non-urgent situations; when customers have a pressing issue, they need access to live support as quickly as possible. Phone and chat support lines are imperative at these times.

To maintain professional communication and sync resources across these channels, it can be useful to use established support software such as Zendesk, Groove, or Help Scout. These software solutions implement technology to smooth the customer experience and make support management easier.

But even these three support channels are not always enough – more and more customers are turning to social media to receive the help they need.

For example, on Twitter alone, 19% of users seek customer support through the platform. That translates to roughly 60.8 million active users who use Twitter to address customer service issues. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media bases form an excellent opportunity to communicate with your customer base.

In fact, if you ignore those social media users, unanswered service questions can result in up to 15% customer loss, a number expected to increase over time.

Companies who do respond to pleas for help via social media reap the benefits – those customers, on average, spend 20-40% more than other customers.

Regardless of how large or small your business is, establishing a social media presence and fielding support requests through those channels is a great way to improve upon your support delivery.

Fine-Tune Your Website for Service

If it’s been awhile since you put some TLC into your website, take the opportunity to make some effective tweaks. Here are a few things every site should have:

Easy navigation to key information, FAQ, and support lines

Your customers don’t want to spend time clicking around your site, unable to find what they need. Make sure your menu is user-friendly and that your company’s contact information is just one or two clicks away.

Responsive design (mobile friendly framework)

Responsive design refers to the capacity of your website to display on mobile devices. Websites without responsive design can lose key functionality on tablets and smartphones and are often difficult to navigate.

Approximately 66% of mobile-device using customers reported frustration with non-responsive websites.

A physical address

In addition to giving your site extra credibility, listing your address is a good practice because it helps customers find you back in the real world. Likewise, you can sync this information with Google Business for free to make sure that their official listing for you has accurate information.

Up to date, easy to follow FAQ

Many customers are perfectly content to peruse the FAQ section of your website before contacting a rep. Your FAQs should be maintained regularly; as your team notices common questions and problems, you can present the solutions in a detailed, easy to read way on your website. If you can add helpful pictures and videos, that’s even better.

Streamline Paperwork

An easy to overlook aspect of presenting your company in a hassle-free, professional manner is the paperwork customers and clients have to fill out. If you provide contracts, on-boarding questionnaires, or invoices, it’s important to make sure they take as little of your customer’s time as possible.

Try to avoid redundancies, such as asking the same questions in multiple documents. It is obnoxious to fill out a form with your name and contact information, only to be asked to provide it again several documents later!

Invoices should also be as simple and explicit as possible. Make sure all relevant information is present, your contact information is prominent, your branding is consistent, and itemization is clear.

Inject Quality into the Details

Take some time to think about the interactions your team has with customers and how you can make small improvements to the overall experience.

For example, if your team members field customer support calls, is there background noise that makes it hard for the customer to understand your representatives, and vice versa? Do you have outdated equipment that produces a static sound during calls? Providing your customers with crystal clear sound so that they can hear and be heard does marvels for their perception of your service quality.

Or, imagine your frustration if you were using a chat line and it suddenly disappeared when you clicked to another part of the site. Making sure that the chat follows users around your site until they close the conversation can save considerable time and frustration.

As a final example, consider support ticket follow ups. Sending a confirmation email with a link to the active ticket shows the customer that their complaint was received and gives them extra assurance that their needs are being addressed.

As you continue to refine your processes and build up your toolkit, you will no doubt find additional ways to improve your service’s look and feel to keep customers satisfied.

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