As online reviews and social media hold sway on public sentiment, online reputation management services have become indispensable for brands to succeed online.
That said, companies must intensify their efforts in delivering exceptional customer care – a critical component of online reputation management (ORM) – to keep customers satisfied and increase the likelihood of positive brand recommendations.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What Is Customer Care?
- Customer Care vs. Customer Service vs. Customer Support
- The Building Blocks of Exceptional Customer Care
- Benefits of Investing in Customer Care
- 8 Ways To Improve Customer Care
What Is Customer Care?
Customer care is actions taken by brands to ensure customers have a seamless, positive experience. This includes all interactions with the company and its staff, from pre- to post-purchase.
More than just addressing service expectations and technical support, customer care creates an emotional bond between brands and customers.
Dr. Jan Louise Jones, a professor at the University of New Haven, says customer care aims to set a good impression. After all, positive customer experiences are the foundation of a strong and enduring brand-customer relationship.
People are going to remember how you responded to them in a crisis. Let people know you do care, and you do understand and be genuine with your message.
-Dr. Jan Louise Jones, Professor at the University Haven
Customers who feel valued and supported throughout their entire journey with a company are more likely to become brand ambassadors.
People talk, which is why every interaction, whether during a purchase, inquiry or resolution of an issue, should be treated as an opportunity to provide exceptional customer care.
Customer Care vs. Customer Service vs. Customer Experience
Here’s the thing: Customer care is often confused with other terms like customer service and customer experience. While all are essential for retaining customers, they are distinct concepts.
Let’s do a comparison, shall we?
Customer service deals with responding to customer queries, providing technical support and troubleshooting issues.
Customer care takes it further by resolving issues while providing emotional support. What we mean by that is you make customers feel that they’re not just another transaction, but you’re genuinely concerned about their well-being. The result is building long-lasting relationships beneficial to both parties – satisfied customers generally convert into loyal customers.
Finally, customer experience is the impression customers form when interacting with your brand. It includes every touchpoint, from the initial awareness stage to the post-purchase phase.
Here’s an example illustrating customer care vs. customer service vs. customer experience.
A customer notices a sudden disruption in their internet connection. Annoyed, they called the telecom provider’s customer service line. The problem is resolved after a few hours, and the representative offers a credit on the customer’s next bill as a gesture of goodwill. That’s how customer service works – fix the issue and move on to the next.
Now, let’s shift to a customer care standpoint –
The same customer faces another disruption a few days later and contacts support. This time, the interaction takes on a different tone. The rep addresses the technical issue and acknowledges the customer’s recurring inconvenience.
They assure the customer that the provider is actively investigating the issue and, to make the situation more manageable for the customer in the interim, offer a temporary upgrade to a higher-speed internet plan at no additional cost. After resolving the issue, the representative follows up to ensure everything is working well.
Five years later, the customer still uses the same telecom provider and has even recommended the company to friends and family – see, that is customer care done right. You empathize, anticipate their needs and provide tailored solutions.
But where does customer experience weigh in on all of this?
The customer experience begins right when someone considers the telecom provider and continues through every step, from signing up to using the service and seeking support. It’s how customers feel and what they go through during their entire journey with the brand.
Since the customer’s past experiences with the telecom provider have been mostly positive, they’re more likely to see the disruptions as exceptions.
Remember: Positive brand experiences act like a buffer against occasional issues.
As a result, the customer is more likely to advocate for the brand, ultimately contributing to positive online reviews and brand perception.
The Building Blocks of Exceptional Customer Care
There’s no boiler template for good customer care. Still, there are certain elements you should consider when creating your customer care strategy:
- A Highly Trained Customer Service Team. Understanding the customer’s needs and your company’s offerings is essential. Your agents should be highly trained to meet customer demands and possess the attitude and demeanor needed to provide exceptional care.
- Dedicated to Completion. Customers don’t want someone who will just stop at barely completing their task. Instead, they want you to go the extra mile and see their request through from beginning to end.
- Detail-Oriented Care. Pay close attention to even the most minor details. Your team should know the customer’s needs, ensuring they are met to the best of their ability.
- Quality Work. Exceptional customer care means delivering quality service and results for every request. Strive to produce high-quality output according to the standards you have set forth and possibly even exceed them.
- Time Consciousness. Customers expect speedy results from your team, so they need to be aware of the urgency of each request. This means understanding tight timelines and responding quickly to queries and feedback.
- Personal Connection. Take time to build a rapport with customers, knowing when to engage in light-hearted, friendly banters.
The Benefits of Investing in Customer Care
Unhappy customers share negative feedback online. A National Consumer Rage study revealed that the number of customers who share negative online reviews tripled from 2017 to 2020.
By prioritizing customer care in your customer retention strategies, your brand can benefit from:
- Decreased churn rates: Positive customer experiences keep your brand relevant, resulting in fewer lost customers.
- Increased customer loyalty: When customers have a good experience with your company, they are likelier to purchase from you again, leave positive online reviews and recommend your offerings to others.
- Improved customer advocacy: Loyal customers will become advocates for your brand through positive word-of-mouth recommendations within their networks.
- Increased revenue: Satisfied customers equals repeat purchases, which leads to a higher return on investment for your brand.
With these in mind, ensure your customer retention strategies are up-to-date and tailored to your customer base. Invest in a good customer experience management team, give them the resources they need and keep track of their successes. Your brand will thank you in the long run.
8 Ways To Improve Customer Care
Customer expectations are constantly rising, and brands must keep up with these changing demands.
Here’s how to take your customer care from subpar to truly great:
1. Invest in CRM and CXM Tools
A customer relationship management (CRM) platform keeps records of customer interactions in one place. This lets you quickly review a customer’s past issues while improving efficiency by reducing wait times.
Say a customer files a report via your website, follows up via email and then calls to resolve the issue. With a conversational CRM, customer service agents won’t need to ask them to repeat information; they can quickly review all their interactions in one place and resolve the issue immediately.
A study by CX trends report shows that 92% of consumers invest more in companies that ensure they won’t need to repeat information.
Another worthy investment is a customer experience management software (CXM) solution. A customer experience management software tool maps the buyer’s journey across channels, including marketing, support, operations and social media.
Not to confuse one for the other, customer experience management software is scaled to your entire organization, while sales teams best use customer relation tools.
2. Uncover Pain Points Through Data Collection
Removing friction from the customer’s journey decreases the chance of leads dropping off. Data collection through brand perception survey questions, customer satisfaction survey and call transcripts provide valuable insights into issues that agents overlooked during interactions.
Just a reminder to be transparent with your data collection processes – will you use solely brand perception survey questions or a combination of methods?
3. Train Agents To Address Customer Emotions
Your customer service team should be fluent in handling difficult conversations. Whether frustration, sadness or surprise, empathizing with customers can go a long way in calming down an upset customer.
That said, proper word choice establishes rapport with customers. Use courteous words, but not overly formal, as this will appear insincere or robotic. Some examples include:
- “I hear you.”
- “I apologize for the inconvenience.”
- “Thank you for your patience.”
- “Thank you for that feedback.”
Training agents to emphasize does take time, but it’s a worthy investment that pays off in the long run. A customer experience specialist can aid in implementing effective training programs for your teams.
4. Personalize Your Customer Service
A Salesforce study found that 66% of customers would switch brands if they felt they were being “treated like a number, not an individual.” Rather than using boilerplate responses, take the time to personalize customer service interactions.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Address customers by name.
- Greet them warmly.
- Make sure to listen to their needs and echo back a summary of what they said.
- Speak and write in a friendly, approachable tone.
- Send out personalized thank-you notes after transactions are completed.
- Seamlessly continue a previous colleague’s conversation with the customer.
- Show empathy when a customer shares a difficult experience or problem.
- Anticipate customer needs and practice proactive engagement.
- Avoid using jargon or technical language unless you have already established that the customer is comfortable.
5. Increase Efficiency With Customer Service Technology
Technology in customer service, like automated chatbots, reduces the workload on contact center staff while assisting customers to get quick answers without waiting on hold.
Customer service technology also encourages proactive engagement and speeds up processes on the agent side by means of offering pre-filled forms or using natural language processing (NLP) technology to process customer data faster.
However, some customers prefer speaking directly with an agent for faster resolution. Technology in customer service should be used selectively – provide clear signposting so customers know when to use automated features and when to speak with an agent.
6. Establish a Clear Escalation Pathway
Customer experience management teams should have a well-defined escalation process when faced with challenging questions and issues. This ensures each member knows who to contact for assistance when dealing with inquiries beyond their scope of expertise.
Clear communication of the escalation process, internally and externally, also enables customers to easily access the right support person for additional assistance.
7. Set Clear Service Standards
A consistent level of service across your customer service team is essential to acquire positive online reviews. Establishing clear standards for customer care, including response times and tone of voice, helps define customer expectations.
You can start by implementing the following:
- Choose the tone and language style that reflects your values and service ethics. For instance, decide between formal and informal language.
- Maintain a consistent approach at every customer contact point.
- Consider the available resources, such as staffing levels, customer experience specialist availability and customer service technology, to deliver effective services.
- Set realistic timeframes for delivering customer service, especially during peak periods. For example, aim to answer the telephone within three rings.
Quality assurance tools such as call monitoring and scorecards are great ways to help your customer experience management professionals meet those standards.
8. Turn Negative Feedback Into Positive Opportunities
Negative feedback allows you to learn what went wrong and how to improve, while good feedback zeroes in on where you could double your efforts.
Encourage customers with negative online reviews to complete easy-to-fill brand perception survey questions or a customer satisfaction survey. Ask specific questions about their experience, such as, “How satisfied were you with the outcome of your call?” or “How effective or ineffective was the resolution?”
An online review monitoring service also lets you track what customers say about your brand online and refine your customer retention strategies.
Customer Care and Online Reputation Go Hand in Hand
With so much of the customer experience taking place online, businesses must understand how customer care plays a vital role in shaping brand perception.
Yet many businesses don’t prioritize customer care and focus solely on marketing efforts such as building a website, creating content and engaging with customers on social media. While these are essential aspects of building a business, they won’t make up for the lack of customer service provided.
Nevertheless, customer care and brand perception should be treated as a unit. Providing attentive, dependable customer care bolsters your brand’s online reputation and creates loyal customers more likely to recommend the business to others.
Give Customers the Royal Treatment and Boost Brand Image With Rize
Excellent customer service can have a positive, multi-layered impact on a business. Now that you know the magnitude of good service, how can you ensure you’re offering customers a stellar experience?
Start by partnering with an online reputation management firm like Rize Reviews.
Rize helps businesses build a powerful online reputation and protect their brand from potential customer disappointment. We provide valuable insights to companies by analyzing overall feedback and promptly notifying them of specific issues and complaints via our online forms and email automation.
Rize also offers a suite of online reputation management services, including campaign management, sentiment analysis, reputation management, review monitoring and response services.
Book a FREE demo today to discover how our customer experience specialist can help you turn negative online reviews into money-making five-star experiences.