The Golden Rules of Customer Communications
As a business owner, the idea of a customer trying to contact you and finding your company unavailable is a terrifying one. In the modern world, businesses are supposed to be easily contacted and accessible. As a result, if a customer comes calling (or emailing, or Tweeting…) then you need to be sure that someone from your company is there to answer.
However, this is easier said than done. In some ways, the myriad contact methods we now have available to us have made the problem worse, as there’s now a seemingly endless array of different choices customers can use to get in touch. As the entrepreneur, you have to be sure that your company is keeping up with all of these communication options. To that end, here’s three golden rules to live by when it comes to customer communications:
“All communications must be answered within 24 working hours.”
Customers don’t mind waiting for a response from a company — they prefer customer service that is effective to that which is fast — but they’re also not going to wait forever. Twenty-four working hours — i.e. not across the weekend — is the limit for most customers, so this should be your target for responding to all forms of communication.
If a customer has sent a query you can’t answer in 24 hours, then you still need to reply to them within that time frame. A simple: “we’re working on finding the solution to this, and will be in touch soon!” will suffice– just remember to set a reminder to respond when you have settled the matter.
“No call goes untraced.”
Businesses tend to receive a lot of telephone calls, many of which are marketing “opportunities” that you would rather ignore. As a result of this, many businesses get into the habit of not answering calls, as they don’t wish to be on the receiving end of their third sales spiel of the day. Given that customers have other means of contact available to them, ignoring calls doesn’t seem like it will be too damaging.
However, some customers — and particularly older customers — will want to talk to a person rather than send an email or Twitter message. If you’re repeatedly ignoring calls, these customers are going to be extremely unhappy. This is why you should institute a policy of ignoring calls if you so wish, but then using a reverse phone lookup by CheckThem to trace the origin of the call. If the call came from a marketing company, you can ignore it; if it came from a residential address, it’s likely to be a customer, and you should therefore call back ASAP.
“Twitter Direct Messages are not to be ignored.”
You will likely find that more and more customers want to address any issues or questions they have via Twitter’s Direct Messaging system. However, DMs are latecomers in the customer service game, which means that they sometimes slip down the priority list.
However, DMs are legitimate queries from legitimate customers, and they should be treated with the same level of respect and diligence as you do for an email or phone call. Set a reminder to check Twitter DMs every day, and then seek to reply in 24 working hours as mentioned above. If customers prefer to use Twitter, then your customer service needs to adapt in the same way.
By ensuring you maintain excellent contact with customers, you can be sure your business is providing the level of service the modern business world demands. Good luck!