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More than two-thirds of customers say their standards for the customer experience are higher than ever, according to research from Salesforce. They claim today’s experience often isn’t fast, personalised, streamlined or proactive enough for them.

Yep, you might have thought that something — not everything! — was wrong. But customers have gripes that run the gamut.

Here’s what falls short and tips on how you can catch up or get ahead.

1. Service isn’t fast enough

Almost 65% of customers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time.

That means now — and it’s a tall order!

But don’t fear if you don’t have the capabilities to do real-time, 24-hour chat. For one, you can offer real-time-chat for a limited number of hours every day. Just make sure you’re staffed to handle the real-time requests so customers never wait. As long as you post and adhere to the available hours, and customers truly get the real-time experience, they’ll be happy.

Secondly, you can provide FAQs, self-help and account portals that are easy to navigate and let customers click around quickly to find answers on their own. As long as they can do it from their handheld or personal devices at any time, they’ll be satisfied.

2. Service isn’t personalised enough

A third of customers will switch companies if they feel like just another number. They want to feel like the person they’re interacting with – whether that’s through chat, email, social media or on the phone – knows and understands them.

Personalisation goes way beyond using customers’ names during interactions. It has a lot to do with recognising emotions that customers feel when they contact you. Just a few words to prove you “get” what’s going on in their world makes customers feel a personal connection.

For instance, if they’re complaining about an issue in social media, write, “I can see why you’d be frustrated” (whether they used the word “frustrated” or not, you can sense it). If they speak quickly and sound rushed when they call, say, “I can tell this is important right now, and I’ll take care of it quickly.” If they email with lots of questions, respond with, “This can be confusing, so let’s get working on the answers.”

3. Service isn’t connected

Customers don’t see and don’t care about your silos. They expect your company to run as one, fluent organization. If they connect with one person, they expect the next person will know all about the last contact.

Your CRM system is ideal for giving them that sense of continuity (whether it really exists within your company or not!) It’s designed to keep track of customers’ preferences and movement. The key: Ensure employees put the right, detailed information into the system. Then anyone can refer to details when they connect with customers.

Provide regular training on the CRM system so they don’t get slack with it. Reward employees for using it well.

4. Service is reactive

Customers don’t want issues and inconveniences. Even worse, according to customers: disrupting their professional and personal lives to report and deal with the issue.

What they’d love: You offer a resolution before an issue and disruption ever happens. Sure, it’s not always possible. Emergencies happen.

Ideally, you get the word out as soon as you know something will impact customers in a negative way. (They’re OK with waiting a bit longer on good news.) The best way these days is social media. It’s practically immediate, and customers can share and react quickly. From there, follow with a more detailed email. Put up front how they’ll be affected, then how long they can expect the disruption to be, and finally the explanation.

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References: Salesforce, Institute of Customer Service, Michele McGovern

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