Hello everyone – we’re starting off this week’s Digitize NS with some special news. As of today, we’re changing the Digitize NS branding over to our Digitize Your Firm banner. Many of you know that we launched this initiative first in Nova Scotia, so we could offer local businesses and entrepreneurs free courses and webinars to help them digitize their business.
After seeing the success, we have seen between the courses and the webinars, we’re happy to say that the success we’ve seen over first ten weeks has encouraged us to push forward and offer the service both across Canada and the world.
As with all our Digitize NS webinars, this will be recorded for later playback if you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. In the interest of time, we’ll be hitting all the key points that lead to the completion of his objectives, but for a deeper look we encourage you to review our past webinars which can be access from the webinar schedule on the Digitize Your Firm page.
For those who may be joining us for the first time, we’ve been exploring a fictional entrepreneur named Joe who runs a local business making sweaters.
Joe has owned his business for over 20 years and is in Downtown Dartmouth. Joe has been selling at the Halifax & Dartmouth Farmer’s Markets in addition to his shop, but he is seeing a decline in business. To tackle this issue, he has decided to take his storefront online to open his consumer base.
After finishing last week’s review, we’re now going to begin taking a broader approach and give Joe’s narrative a break while we explore different directions you can take for digitizing your business. Now, onto today’s agenda!
For today’s webinar, we’re going with a customer care theme – we’re going to talk CRMs, how to provide customer service online, and best practices for keeping both your and your customer’s data safe.
Let’s start off with the question some of you may be wondering: what is a CRM? Well, CRM stand for customer relationship management but can refer to a number of sectors within sales and customer care.
Today we’re going to be talking about CRMs from both perspectives and show you how they can be beneficial to your business. For example, 80 percent of companies that adopted a CRM saw their number of leads increased (and an increase in conversion by 77 percent!)
In the online business landscape, there is a lot of confusion about the difference between customer relationship managers, or CRMs, and marketing automation software. Both types of software have some overlapping functionality and, due to this, interested parties tend not to know what the key differences are, toeing the nebulous line in the sand that divides the two product categories.
Simply put, CRM software is primarily focused on ensuring that your sales team or customer service agents can develop better relationships with your customers, aiming to make your interactions with them more personal, leading to an increase in sales. It will also allow you to track customer interactions, which can be beneficial if you’re working with a large sales team and it is likely no customer will connect with the same representative twice. Overall, it is meant to make your sales team more effective by freeing them from repetitive data entry tasks, so that they can take care of what matters – making sales and taking care of your existing customers.
One of the major benefits is that it helps you organize all of your data on existing clients, leads, or contacts into a single platform that is accessible for those that need it. By putting in notes or saving interactions, it provides anyone looking at a contact to understand their needs, where they left off, and what next steps need to be taken. This works well both in and outside of the sale floor, with CRMs able to track customer service interactions or allow government relations official log notes from interactions with members of municipal, provincial, and national government.
Another benefit is allowing you to track trends over weeks, months, or quarters to have a better understanding of what times are busy, when more staff is needed, and what kind of interactions on happening. As we’ll discuss later on, knowing trends and issues your customers are frequently encountering allow you to better equip customer service teams to speak to a customer’s need while letting you know what needs to be made more accessible.
They can also help better secure your customer’s data by adding an additional layer of security and automatically backing up your data in case of an unfortunate event. Depending on the CRM you choose, you can add security privileges that allow only certain personnel to review files, prevent data from exported, or deleted.
CRMs put all of this and more into your hands – impressive, eh? Let’s turn our attention to the other side of the conversation and talk about very ‘current’ trend: digital customer service.
As we’ve said before, more and more people are going online to stop. In fact, 71 percent of shoppers believe that they will get a better deal online than in a store. In the US alone, there are 191.1 million online shoppers and yet only 28% of US small businesses sell their items online.
While we’ve been talking about opening an e-commerce site and channels to grow your brand, such as on Facebook, we haven’t touched on offering customer service in these mediums to enhance the experience.
If you have customer service experience, like I am sure many of you do, you’ll be happy to know that these skills will serve you well. There are of course, new elements that will need to be discussed.
To begin, your website can be a great resources to provide information for your customers so that you can in some cases solve their problem before they even contact you. Ensure that you have a FAQ – that is, frequently asked questions – portion of your website dedicated to answering questions you, or members of your support team, get a lot.
Having ample access to support resources can also be key, with many websites offering buttons or chat windows that can allow you to immediately interact with virtual customer service agents. By offering this on your website, you can not only help customers with issues they may be having but also answer their questions and provide insight – before a sale – that can encourage a potential customer to be more confident in what they are buying. If you have a blog associated with your website, don’t be afraid to do blog pieces on your FAQs to expand on steps or offer deeper insight.
This comes as no surprise considering in the digital age, there is push to control your brands through social media when customer complaints, issues, or grievances are posted online or, in the worst case scenario, go viral. The best way to mitigate this is to be where your customers are in the web, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and not only respond when people interact with your brand but to actively monitor these mediums to find customers who may be experiencing issues but not know you’re on social media channels.
The first is your social media hours – which may or may not line up with your store or office hours. While many businesses run 9am to 5pm, or stores that run 9am – 9pm, social media never shuts off. Whether it is 3pm in the afternoon, or 3am in the morning, you will most likely encounter these messages. As a business owner, or a social media specialist, it is entirely your decision to decide these owners and you can create ways to enforce them while still offering service to your customers.
If you’re operating a Facebook page, you can set store hours on your profile to notify when your store or social media customer service agents are live or not. You can additionally set ‘away’ messages so that should someone contact you outside of your set hours, you can let me know someone will get back to them the next day and link them to FAQ sections of your site.
While other social media channels do not offer this service as easily, it is entirely alright to write that your social media account is not monitored 24/7, or input your customer service hours.
In the same vein of this, it is to be said that response time is critical when offering customer responses over social media. Depending on where you look, there are various studies suggesting different wait times – the current industry standard is to respond within the same day the question is answered, or 24 hours. You may come across the occasional customer that would prefer service immediately, as you would in an instore setting, your response is entirely up to your discretion.
Regardless of the issue, remember that the hardest element of digital customer service can be an inability to read emotion. While in a physical customer service environment, there are subtle tells to know when a customer is upset. Unfortunately – digital mediums do not allow this, unless you are using emoticons or emojis which can be alright if you’re looking to make the customer experience informal, but would be wise to use if you’re speaking to a customer formally. The best way to deal with this is to create a ‘tone’ guide that helps customer service agents understand tone your service must have, how to address customers and what is and isn’t allowed (such as emoticons).
Aside from what we’ve already covered, the best advice we can provide is when to know when it is time to take the assistance offline. When it becomes an issue of accounts, credit cards, or any form of personal information, asking the person to contact you via one-on-one messages such as direct messages and directing them to the best point of contact is best. While you will encounter customers, who provide this information without asking and are unaware of the dangers of this, any information that could comprise the person’s account or personal information has no place on public forums.
Speaking of information safety, that leads us into our next topic – keeping your (and your customer’s data) safe.
As we’ve said, people are doing digital and for many companies – it’s the place to be. Just like a physical storefront however, you need to make sure your business is under lock and key to protect both you and your customers.
The first step every comes with making sure that you have a strong SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) associated with your store. SSL is a type of encryption that is used to protect a shopper’s personal information (name, address, credit card info, etc) to protect it from falling into the wrong hands. You can often tell if you are one a site running SSL because the website URL will read ‘https’ as opposed to ‘http’.
Another step is making sure that you have secure passwords to keep both your data and your customer’s data safe. Be sure to be careful about how much of your customer’s data you’re keeping. If you’re storing information that contains their financial details or sensitive information of the like, it may be better to look at storing records in such a way that these details are not needed.
From a credit card standpoint, requiring a credit card CVV and address verification system can help cut down on fraud by needing additional details that a person using a stolen credit card may not know. It is also worth contacting the website provider and the companies of cards you take as many will have tips and services to help protect your business (and customers) from fraud.
An internal step to take if you’re working with a team is to make digital security and privacy as a piece of training information. Make sure everyone knows to not send a customer’s private details by email or through an inter-office messenger.
It can also be beneficial to invest in a password generation and management program. These programs offer you a safe place to create strong passwords while also storing them to associated accounts in an encrypted program that can require layers of authentication such as putting in a PIN, inserting a digital image, or downloading an app that you much connect through. Make sure these applications, as well as programs you may be using to run your digital store, are updated regularly and you have scheduled scans to keep a close eye on your data.
Internally, you can also look into setting up alerts that track suspicious activity being taken, such as repeated attempts to access an account in rapid succession. These alerts can allow you to quickly lock and secure the account (and customer’s data) and give you time to contact the customer so they can change their password.
Finally – ensure both your platform provider and yourself have a recovery plan in the event that there is a data breach. These plans are meant to offer a step-by-step guide on what to do if you have customer data stolen and how to begin mitigating the damage. These plans should detail everything and anything to do in this situation, from pre-approved and crafted messaging to the chain of command and who takes over certain duties. Ensure every action taken is noted should you need to audit in the future and keep those affected in the loop. Once this plan is completed if you don’t already have one, practice it at the very least yearly and update it as new channels or staff join the team.
To review, let’s go over what we’ve covered today:
1. CRMs are a great way to manage your customer’s data and track trends appearing in your customer interactions. They can also provide another layer of security to your customer data and better organize your business.
2. When it comes digital customer service, there is a lot to consider when offering this service – be prepared to set hours, monitor your channels, have resources available to help customers (like FAQs), and don’t be afraid to create blogs or tutorials that further explore troubleshooting measures. One of the hardest parts of digital customer service is not being able to know for sure how the customer is feeling, tone guides for representatives can go a long way. Don’t forget to also identify when it is time to take conversations offline through direct messaging or having them call a designated support specialist.
3. This week we closed off with a very important issue: data safety. Keeping your data (and your customer’s) safe is paramount. Ensure that your e-commerce site and checkout uses encryptions and make sure your record keeping does not include financial information. When your customers check out, fight fraud by using an address verification system and ask for the credit card’s CVV – and don’t be afraid to reach out to credit card providers for resources. Set up your system to flag repeated attempts to access a customer’s account and in the event your digital assets are every breached – have an up to date plan that has been practiced.
That does it for this week, next week we’re going to explore:
1. Creating newsletters (and emails) that stand out
2. The newsletter metrics you should then track
3. And refresh ourselves on the topic of compliancy
Until then, please put any questions you may have in the chat or feel free to email me at jay – J A Y @ Simplycast.com.
Next week, we’ll be doing a comprehensive review of the past nine weeks. If there is a specific subject you’d like to learn more about or be highlighted, don’t hesitate to let me know.