Guest author Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.
It’s hard to do personalized customer service at scale. When you’re using the technology to streamline the process and save your team time, the sense of personalization is easily lost.
You need a strategy to get the best of both worlds—which is why I asked ten founders from YEC how they suggested other entrepreneurs keep the customer service experience personal while still leveraging the best technology.
1. Incorporate Data Cohesiveness And Integration
With the growth of social media as a customer-relationship-management channel, as well as the trend of using social media and other channels for support, it’s important for companies to create profiles and databases available regardless of a customer’s point of entry. Whether a customer sends a Facebook message, tweets at your company, starts a live chat, calls on the phone, or sends an email, there has to be a way for the customer-service representative to see that customer’s historical transactions. For the customer-service rep to make the experience positive, they need to know what the customer said across all channels. This information will reduce frustration and help to manage expectations and resolve problems. —Marcela DeVivo, National Debt Relief
2. Automate Only Parts Of The Process
Take a long look at your sales process. You should be able to determine which parts are the same for every client, such as intake forms. If the data is something you need to review with every client, automate it. When it’s time to do the real work, add in a human element to review the answers to the automated questions. This will save you about half of your time. Also, if possible, offer a product in a box that the client can DIY and then provide premium access to your personal services so that you can better offer something for everyone. If you feel like a hands-off approach doesn’t work, certify your best team members to also be client facing. Make sure there’s a process to make these affiliates/employees knowledgeable so you don’t weaken your business reputation. —Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
3. Add Your Signature
Hire a virtual assistant or get your personal assistant to type or write a personal letter to all of your highest-performing clients or customers. In this day and age, everyone is so caught up in technology and getting things done quicker with less work. Spend the time composing and personalizing your letter and make sure to sign off on it. It’s a different gesture to what everyone else is using these days, and I’m confident that it will not go unnoticed. —Engelo Rumora, Ohio Cashflow
4. Use Technology To Your Advantage
The latest in customer-service technology allows your brand to create a truly personal customer-service experience. Tools like Intercom, Olark, and LivePerson allow you to interact directly with your customers through your website in a way that aligns with how customers would actually prefer to work with your brand. You get a ton of information about your users while talking to them, and they get to feel like they’re truly talking to someone. Combine that with powerful data collection tools like Promoter.io or Qualaroo, and you’ve got all the information you need to create an amazing customer experience. These days, not leveraging the best technology available means you’ll eventually end up with a subpar customer-service experience. —Mattan Griffel, One Month
5. Leverage Prewritten Responses With A Personal Touch
Most customer-service tools offer a feature that allow you to quickly and easily pull a prewritten response into an email. In our tool of choice, HelpScout, it’s called “saved replies.” The key to using prewritten responses is to make them sound natural, and to take a moment to further personalize the email before you hit send. For example, we have a response email that says “I just wanted to reach out and thank you for signing up for Edgar. :)” This reads more like a personal note than a form response, and our team can further personalize the email with details specific to the customer. —Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com
6. Use 24/7 Chat Features
Streamlining systems and processes to ensure that each employee’s time is being used wisely is important to the success of your company and its current projects. A 24/7 chat window accessible through your website is easy to manage and a great way to maintain great customer service, as it is something that does not require hours of focus since it’s constantly open and ready to be answered. The availability of a 24/7 chat is the preferred method of contact for customers, as they can quickly get in touch with you and have their questions or problems solved without having to wait for an email response. It allows employees to continue on with their day and workload while consistently being available for customers through an easy to manage chat window. —Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
7. Be Active on Social Media
The key to staying personal and delivering a “wow” customer experience is to become omnipresent on social media. When customers send you a direct message, your team needs to respond promptly. When a customer mentions you on Twitter, you should favorite the mention and retweet it. If a customer tags you in a post or mentions your brand (good or bad), you need to respond in real time and leverage whatever resources you have to thank the customer or make the situation right. Facebook and Twitter should become your highly personal customer support platforms—it’s where your customers will end up if they can’t get ahold of you because your systems are automated. It also allows your impeccable customer support to play out for the public to see. —Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com
8. Automate Touch-Point Reminders
At GoBrandgo, we have a very high-touch relationship with our clients. Part of what we do is initiate “random” touch points (for example: lunch, industry articles, referrals) every month. With many clients this is difficult to keep straight manually, so we leverage tools like Google Sheets with email reminders to let us know who and what to schedule for the next two months. We also use FollowUp.cc to have articles or introductions show back up in our inboxes at the appropriate time. Leveraging technology turns high-impact efforts that regularly would be deprioritized for more urgent issues into a simple, streamlined process that takes little effort and gets executed like clockwork. This makes our clients feel important. —Derek Weber, GoBrandgo
9. Empower Your Customers
Recent studies have shown that millennials spend more than five hours per day on their smartphones and on social media. An easy-to-use, attractive, and responsive mobile user experience combined with the power of data science can tailor the customer-service experience for each user, empowering them to achieve their goals at their own pace. This ultimately provides a better solution for most users than a phone call with a live operator. Not surprisingly, some of the best new tech startups offer a mobile-only experience. —Eddie Lou, Shiftgig
10. Use Trigger-Based Automatic Emails
Our business thrives on being personal. However, what may look personal can actually be automated. We use a trigger-based email marketing platform that sends automatic customer-service-related emails and followups that look as if they were written by customer-service reps themselves. For example, every time a call comes in, the caller is labeled with a specific tag that triggers a specific “personal” email. It can then send another a couple of days later based on your companies needs. —Raymond Kishk, Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating
Photo by Richard Eriksson