Being Available to Your Clients in 2014How accessible are you to your clients, vendors and partners?

Are your business contacts turning to social media to communicate? Are they calling after normal business hours?  Are you providing every possible channel to satisfy their communication needs? Being within your clients’ reach every hour of the day for questions, concerns and issues has become the key to growth in nearly every industry in 2014.  Providing service before your competitors is frequently an important first step in earning loyal clients.

So, how can you make yourself more available?

Live Agent Access

Forrester Research reported in March of 2013 that voice remains the most widely used method of communication by consumers, with 71% stating that this is their preferred choice when communicating with companies. That is why more and more forward-thinking business owners are providing live agent after-hours answering services to their clients. Of course, a contact center can’t have all the answers, but that isn’t the point. When a client, or prospective client, is given the opportunity to voice his or her needs or concerns to a live person who can promise to get the answers needed within a designated time frame, the client has been provided a customer service experience that is far better than being directed to leave a voice mail, or worse yet, getting caught in an endless automated phone answering loop. Companies that continue to leave the voice avenue closed after-hours, stand to be crushed by those that grant that access in 2014.

Web Chat

According to the same Forrester Report, the use of web chat as a customer service channel has grown exponentially over the last 4 years. However, it still has its caveats.  Chiefly, it requires a good deal of labor and it is difficult to outsource 24/7 web chat coverage that is affordable. Advancements in technology coupled with proper implementation are opening this avenue to better outsourcing options, and the popularity of web chat will continue to grow in 2014 and beyond.

Secure Mobile Access

Visualizing customer service as nothing more than hiring employees with good dispositions and giving them the power to promptly resolve issues is a short-sighted view in today’s technological world. Customer service doesn’t just mean making your clients feel secure, it also means properly securing your clients’ information.  With PCI Compliance & the change to HIPAA regulations, protecting your Secure information isn’t only your responsibility anymore; it is the responsibility of anyone that works for you and with you. That’s why at the end of 2013, we rolled out the PCI COMPLIANT, HI-TECH & HIPAA COMPLIANT Mobile Application: MiSecure Messaging.  When we think of good customer service, we go beyond friendly voices and promptly connecting you with the answers you need. We think about protecting your information, and that of your clients as well.

Email

It might be difficult to think of email as a trendy new way to provide customer service, but if 100 companies provide the same product or service, and they each own a website with an inquiry page that gathers information and submits it to an email, which company is going to earn the most business? The company that is monitoring and responding to emails 24/7 or the company that only monitors emails from 8am to 5pm?  Companies that provide answers first are going to be the ones that earn more business because they aren’t making clients and potential clients wait.  Outsourcing the monitoring of after-hours email inquiries is going to be one of the only ways to use old technology to expand market share over your competitors in 2014.

Social Media

Social media’s place in customer service and marketing continues to show linear growth. Interactions are still low in the overall picture because so many businesses are failing to develop and integrate business practices for the various social networks.  However, exponential growth in the use of social media as a business communication and customer service tool is inevitable this year and beyond.  Many businesses that have failed to embrace social media thus far, will be playing catch up as they continue to see their potential clients flock to businesses that provide this avenue of accessibility.

Stay ahead of the curve in 2014 by developing a step-by-step plan to be available to your current and potential clients via the communication channels they prefer to use because trying to force your clients to communicate within the channels you want to maintain and provide might cost you.

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Teri Erickson

Business Development Coordinator at AnswerFirst
I hope you found this article helpful, if you have any questions you can contact me on my direct line at AnswerFirst: 813-636-3975. If I don’t provide our potential clients with top-notch customer service from day 1, then why should they trust my company to provide their clients with the same?