It’s common wisdom that you should make your customer interactions as frictionless as possible.
When you put up barriers between you and your customers you create a void – customers wanting to get in touch have to put in extra effort to get past them (getting frustrated in the process). Maybe it’s easier for them to just publicly rant and complain to get your attention, or perhaps worst of all, they simply don’t bother to get in touch or voice their opinions at all and the problem is left unresolved.
Being omnipresent – how many communication channels is enough?
One of the biggest barriers you can put between you and your customers is to force them to switch communication channels. Nobody wants to have the same conversation and repeat themselves in several different mediums.
You could tackle this by connecting with customers across as many channels as possible – Twitter, Facebook, Email, Phone, SMS… the list is always growing.
However, we’ve found this to be inefficient and hard to manage. We’re a small team, so instead of spreading ourselves thinly across all possible channels, we make sure the ones we do use provide the easiest and most consistent experience possible.
Don’t require information from the customer that isn’t essential
When a customer has an issue or is frustrated, the last thing they want to do is fill in a bunch of “required” fields to talk to you. Don’t ask for names, emails, other details upfront – ask for this once they’ve told you what’s up.
Don’t ask the customer for information you can acquire through other means. When you’re a frustrated customer, think of how annoying it is when you have to tell a company your address over the phone when they already send you mail through the post. On the web you shouldn’t be asking for data you already have on the customer – such as the plan they’re on, or the pages they’ve been to on your website.
How Apple makes it easy for customers to get in touch
Apple Stores are famously full of ‘Geniuses’. Every time you visit a store, you’ll appreciate the personal interaction and proactive approach you experience there. If you receive faster and more relevant help from a real person, you’ll begin to build rapport with the brand and you’re certainly more likely to become a customer. Then you’ll leave feeling more satisfied, which importantly means you’re not only more likely to return, but also tell your friends about the great experience you had.
This is one of the reasons why Apple Stores are always busy, people like the experience. Learning from this, if your main communication channel consistently delivers exceptional experiences, your customers will naturally favour it over other methods anyway.
How does the Genius Bar relate to an online business?
We truly believe live chat software can be an amazing way of replicating this experience on your website and in your app. It’s a communication channel that is relevant at the time you most need it.
The reason why a customer went to your site is because right then – at that moment – they were interested and wanted to learn more. Much like talking to an Apple Genius, you choose to go to the Apple Store to start that conversation. As a customer, you’re more receptive and engaged. As a business, you don’t need to win somebody’s attention, because the customer has already volunteered it.
Starting the interaction on the right foot leads to a much more natural and productive conversation.
How we put this into practice at GoSquared
Making it easy
With our new Live Chat product, starting a conversation only takes one click, we don’t force you to submit any personal details, it’s up to you to choose if and when you share anything. Sharing screenshots and files is a simple as drag and drop.
Keeping it consistent
The Live Chat button is always in the same place and available on every page. We even choose to leave Live Chat on outside of office hours. Leave us a Live Chat message and we’ll see it the next morning, it’s still easier than email.
Filling your site with Geniuses
We don’t impose any ‘seat’ limits. Everybody on the team can chat with customers, view the entire live chat history, and have all the relevant account info on hand next to it; this eliminates the chance of the customer getting frustrated from having the same conversations over and over again with different agents.
Adding a personal touch
Live Chat encourages you to send quick informal messages with emoji and pictures. It’s a more fun and personal way to interact online. If we ever need to email somebody, we always ensure it’s addressed from a real person that can be replied to.
Remembering the little big details
On our contact page, instead of having a stock photo of somebody wearing a headset, we made an ‘over engineered arrow’ (that’s really what we called it – check the code!). It’s an animated and fully responsive arrow, that will always highlight our preferred communication method.
While it’s not necessarily been our aim, so far we’ve reduced email support by ~95%. This significant reduction in email support is largely because customers prefer the lowest friction communication option available – and that’s live chat.
How can you break down the barriers between your team and your customers?
Whether it’s ensuring you have someone on live chat, making it easier to talk on the phone, or simply replying to more people on Twitter, there’s always more that can be done to ensure you’re connecting with your customers effectively.
Don’t be afraid – try making it easier for your customers to talk to you and see the impact on your product, your team, and your business as a whole.