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Customer Service Trends for Small Businesses

Brent Leary of CRM Essentials shares the customer service trends all small and medium-sized businesses need to know. In addition, valuable insights and best practices of how you can use them to grow your business.

Six Customer Service Trends That Will Impact Small Businesses

In the recorded presentation, Brent Leary of CRM Essentials shares the top customer service trends for 2014 to ensure that your customer service strategy gets the best results this year. Learn what customer service trends to watch out for and how they will impact your small business on a global scale.

1. The Customer Experience is Everything

Technology is changing everything about us. We're changing our behaviors, our activities, our expectations, our role as customers, all of that is changed. The only thing that really hasn’t changed is philosophy. Customers have always wanted to be valued for more than just the dollar they bring to the bottom line you have, but now they have these tools to really empower themselves and make you really value them beyond the traditional financial measure, so that’s a big change.

The other big change is because we have these tools that are out there, making it easy for us to create all this content, so easy that we're overloaded with the content. There's not a lot of time, there's not a lot of attention that is being shared. We have to figure out how do we leverage going into 2014 to create the kind of relationships that will keep us in business for a while. We don’t have a lot of time to do this.

We're living in what I call the millisecond economy at this point. Where we have to make the most of the milliseconds we have so that we can capture the attention long enough to create long-lasting business relationships.

2. More Customer Experiences Will Happen On Mobile Devices

So now you have the marriage of the millisecond economy with the mobile apps that small businesses are creating that are giving them some competitive advantage over bigger companies. It's really important because customer service trends say, "Mobile and tablet hotel bookings have risen 12 fold since 2000" and "70% of those bookings are same day."

Customers are looking to companies to provide the experiences and the services when they needed it at the time they need it and in the formats they need it. Millisecond economy is meeting the need of customers that are changing their expectations over time with speed and with the things that we love: mobile devices.

We're living in what I call the millisecond economy at this point. Where we have to make the most of the milliseconds we have so that we can capture the attention long enough to create long-lasting business relationships.

3. More Companies Will Be Using Hard Data

Let's talk about all these data that people are creating. It really gives us an opportunity to engage them and understand them to the point where we can start targeting content specifically to them, almost down to the one-to-one level.

Look at what Jeff Bezos says, "The great thing about fact-based decisions is that they override the hierarchy." We need to be more like him. You have your experience but you have to start really mixing it in with the hard data and there's so much out there that we can start using. The problem: If you're really good at aggregating the data and finding the insights, but don’t do the empathy part you can ruin relationships quickly. Your business needs to do some kind of activity before really baking in how should we deliver this information. You're seeing many more companies who begin to take data very seriously. The data not just for understanding but then turning those understandings into new process and services. Small companies are able to do really cool and big things with this technology and turn it into new opportunities.

4. The Customer Experience Trumps Content and Context

Content is great but as I said there's a lot of it out there. Not everybody is going to pay attention to it because they just don’t have time. If you have the proper context to their solution or their challenges, you can use that context to create content that may be a part of building a great customer service experience.

The TOA Study of the Customer Experience

The experience is really important and speed is a big part of experiences. This is a study done by a company called TOA. They did a survey of 1,000 people where they had in-house service. My heat isn't working, my cable isn't working, I have somebody come, we can get there between the hours of 8:00 in the morning and 11:59 at night, so you have to be sitting there the whole day.

What they found is it doesn’t take much to please people. If you're just on time you haven't done anything yet, you're just showing up on time, look at this, 65% of people are satisfied, 52% are already feeling happy just by showing. You haven't even done anything yet. You're just showing up, so that doesn’t take a whole lot to please us basically. If you start getting a little late, that 65% falls to 27% in a half hour.

Customer Service Success Story: Bubble Gum Interactive

Showing up and then providing some good experience, some good service is another part of the battle. There's a company called Bubble Gum Interactive. They make games for young kids. They’re a small company out of Australia and they have over 2 million users of their games, so a lot of small kids are playing their games all over. Only 4 people are actually supporting this in terms of customer support. How do 4 people support 2 million? They use customer service tools like in this instance so they are able to use social to see what people are talking about and then quickly respond.

Sometimes it does not even mean being able to solve the problem right away, but responding right away and working through the problem with the people that creates a much better experience than waiting for a week to respond to them. Because you saw what happens if you wait a half hour. If you wait a week, they might as well not even call or respond. 2 million users being able to be handled by 4 people using a service that allows you to answer quickly, respond quickly from whatever channel they're using is big,

Customer Service Success Story: Oberweis

Oberweis is a dairy farm out of the Midwest. This is really cool because the summertime people come to their stores. They buy ice cream. The lines get long. They look at it and said, "How do we create a better shopping experience?" They notice that people were getting stuck on the order, looking at the message boards or order boards, so they went through the process of seeing how can we redesign these order boards so that we have a much streamline approach to get our customers a better experience.

What they did is they found the right mix. They put it in the store and they just watch. What they found was having a better designed message board at the order counter made a 20% shorter wait in line, but it also increased the order per revenue. These people were not only getting out of the line quicker, they were actually ordering more stuff. They were able to create a better experience that led to a win-win situation.

5. Customer Service Will be More Important Than Sales

When you look at a customer's lifetime value, customer service is almost more important than sales because that’s where you really build the relationship. If you can extend the relationship with good customer service, you get more sales, you get referrals, you get longer customer lifetime value. I think going forward into 2014, more emphasis is going to be put on this. More emphasis is also going to be put on this whole idea of the subscription economy.

We're all probably using some kind of a service that we subscribe to at this point. We used to buy stuff, now we're subscribing this stuff. Why? Because I want to pay a little a month. If I don’t like it, then I stop getting it. It's always on the company now to prove that they are worth my money every month. How is that different? Before you'd have to buy something you're stuck with it or you have to go some long contracts and then you wouldn't hear from the salesperson again until it was time to renew the contract.

6. Every Employee Will Play a Role in Customer Support

It's not only that you're aligning the business model but you're changing the way that you operate internally. Instead of having these functional teams, sales teams, marketing teams, servicing teams, you're throwing it all together and you're putting it against the persona. If you're selling a small business instead of having go across, we're building this small business team and you're putting the sales and marketing in service people all together so you can extend the relationship across the board. You're doing the same if you're going after midmarket companies or enterprise companies but is focusing on the persona not on the internal function.

The Fair Business Model of 2014

Then lastly, you add all this up. You come up what I call a fair business model for 2014. Fair, fast, flexible, analytical, agile, interactive, integrated, responsive and reliable, that’s basically how you build a model that is customer centric; that's going to be fast enough to keep up with today's customers and do it over the long-term.

I think that’s the bottom line of what we're seeing in customer service trends. Speed, you have to be fast. You have to have a customer-centric model. You have to start looking at subscriptions. You have to start looking at how do you leverage mobility to provide customer experiences, ongoing customer experiences and you have to figure out how do you value customers to the point where you provide them everything they need to stay connected with you.


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