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Four top tips for great customer service in the age of social media: Why response time matters most

Thursday, 12 December 2013 | By Rose Powell

Regardless of whether you’re the whole company or if you have hundreds of staff manning a call centre, how quickly you respond to a request or complaint is the most important factor in customer service, according to customer service system start-up Zendesk.


Asia-Pacific general manager Michael Hansen and chief technology officer Morten Primdahl were recently in Australia, and they shared their top four tips for customer service excellence with StartupSmart.


Realise customer service is more manageable and more important because of social media


Hansen says social media has completely changed the customer service game, and start-ups need to recognise this and create their strategies accordingly.


“We see a trend at the moment where the voice of the customer is getting louder and you need to earn the customers trust continually. Before you were able to force people to contact you when and how you want to be, but that’s not true anymore,” Hansen says. “Good and bad experiences can be massively amplified on social media in minutes.”


Get back to enquiries as quickly as possible


Primdahl says the most important metric in any customer service strategy is how quickly you respond to the first contact.


“Customers and consumers want to be heard. You need to understand that, and respond as quickly as possible,” Primdahl says.


He adds if you’re a small team or growing rapidly and fielding a lot of enquiries, a quick response explaining that you’ve received their message and will get back to them by a certain point is enough.


“The core of good customer service is a timely response. Give someone a bad experience and they’ll go nuts and tell everyone. Surprise people with a quick and comprehensive response and they’ll tell everyone,” Primdahl says.


Listen to your customers and create content to pre-empt common enquiries


Hansen says once you begin to create a customer service system, start-ups should start working out ways to use the feedback they’re getting to streamline that process.


“If you’re listening to what you keep getting asked, you’ve got everything you need to build a help centre with the answers you keep giving so they don’t need to wait on you,” Hansen says, adding video works really well for businesses with online products.


Be honest, informal and ask for feedback


Hansen says start-ups don’t need to pretend to be bigger or more formal than they are.


“Being honest and transparent is the best strategy. Being informal is key to this. If you’re building a start-up, you’re still a human and your customers want to help you succeed. So if you can engage them well, and listen to them they can help you shape the nature of the company,” Hansen says.


Hansen says the biggest lesson most start-ups discover when they start asking their customers for feedback is they can probably charge more.


“Your customers will usually pay more than you think they will. So there is nothing better than speaking to your customers about what they want,” Hansen says.