When we think of luxurious hotels, what is it that makes them luxurious? The gilded check-in desk, sure--but mostly it’s the fact that we know we, the guests, are priority #1 to the staff. People open your doors, take your bags, and bring food to your room. While hotel guests pay that steeper rate for things like the location, they’re also very much paying for the stellar customer service.
This modus operandi is called a “high-touch” customer service--and if executed correctly, can see your business soar above the competition, even if your prices are higher.
What is the Meaning of “High-Touch” Customer Service?
High-touch customer service is inherent to certain businesses. Take airlines, for example. Passengers primarily buy tickets online, so potential issues can range from solving glitches to date changes. Flights see constant disruption, whether it’s thanks to a snowstorm or an understaffed crew. There are vouchers to issue, refunds to verify, and an endless barrage of questions to address on social media. (And of course, the experience on the flight itself.) To keep customers happy and beat the competition, an airline has to be very good at responding to everyone, quickly and sufficiently.
High-touch is another term, in other words, for frequent engagement that requires human intervention. Thanks to technology, what was once relegated to luxury brands is now possible for any business that wants to offer their customers regular interactions at scale. Small businesses, and businesses offering high-stakes services (like insurance agents), in particular, are finding ways to create better, high-touch customer service through tech platforms that allow them to do more than they could before---while still maintaining that personal, face time-heavy touch.
Since small businesses thrive on strong customer relationships, it’s never been more important to consider how even the most basic technology can make life easier--and customers satisfied. For example, a small e-retail business that could previously only confirm the receipt of online orders can use tech to notify customers when their order has been shipped, follow up to ensure satisfaction, and suggest refills or complementary purchases at the right time.
You might be asking, “In the age of email marketing spam, do customers really want high-touch service?” Yes, they do, if it’s well designed. Customers always appreciate when there are several easy avenues (or touch points) for communication--but they don’t want those mediums to replace any and all human interaction. They want to know, eventually, that they will get beyond the bot and have a human show concern for their issue.
With that in mind, here are three strategies to consider when implementing technology to improve your customer’s journey:
High-Touch Customer Service Strategy #1: Focus on Enablement, Not Replacement
Working off the foundation that you are enhancing your interactions, and not entirely replacing them, look for technology that operates around the same principle. Software should help route issues to the right person, better customize your responses, and make it possible to respond to more customers more quickly.
For example, one of our customers talks about using SupportBee to enable their policies around calling customers. SupportBee lets them immediately acknowledge a query and more quickly delegate it to someone, at which point they label and track who received a follow-up phone call and who still needs one (as well as input notes about whether they were able to leave a voicemail). Read more about how a restaurant franchise company improved customer service ratings at their McDonalds locations.
Collaborative inboxes are at the heart of this strategy because it makes it possible for multiple people to do more. This is different from sharing a log-in to the same Gmail address--it allows for real-time communication among team members, and a cleaner overview of who did what, and what still needs attention. Tech can do more than just let you “star” an email of importance or label it as outstanding; SupportBee’s collaborative inboxes enable in-email messages between team members that are invisible to the customer, create user groups, and more easily keep track of high volumes of customer service tickets without losing the details.
We have more to say about the benefits of collaborative inboxes for high-touch customer service here, for those interested in this particular capability.
High-Touch Customer Service Strategy #2: Make It Mobile
It’s been beaten into every marketer’s head that any digital presence a brand has must be mobile-friendly. This is true, but the message often tends to focus on email newsletters and websites, and doesn’t acknowledge the power of optimizing for mobile on the business services side.
Our customers have told us that they do handle email tickets on their mobile phones at times to reduce response time and address pressing issues faster (and because SupportBee is accessible within a business’ existing email client, which most everyone sets up on their phone). So go with tech that enables your teams to work on the go, if they need to. For example, we like Flowdock, a team discussion app that can be accessed on mobile--and also integrates with SupportBee.
High-Touch Customer Service Strategy #3: Share It With Your Customers
The best tech is the tech that not only helps you but helps customers help themselves! Chatbots are a great example of this when used to direct inquiries to the right human who can answer them. Well-organized FAQs have also proven popular with customers--but creating them is a time-consuming task. Unless you choose the right tech.
SupportBee’s Knowledge Base feature lets users create FAQ content and pushes it your website--customers can find it easily online, and agents can also include links to appropriate FAQs in email correspondence using pre-written snippets. Users can create different FAQ pages for different products or service, which is great for businesses that plan to scale.
Learn more about how to create a powerful Knowledge Base for your customers.
Another way to help customers help themselves? Offer transparency into the resolution process. It will cut down on the time you spend updating them on issues, and also helps to assure that their concern is being handled. SupportBee’s customer portal software lets customers track and view the status of their tickets--without having access to teams’ internal communication going on in-platform.
High-Touch Customer Service Strategy #4: Give It Complements
It’s also important to look at all--not just some of--the opportunities where your business can interact with customers. A McKinsey survey showed that healthcare insurance customers (a challenging industry for customer service) were more likely to report satisfaction if they had a good experience at every point, and not just some.
Source: McKinsey Digital Labs
This is where integrations play an important role in determining how to use technology to create and maintain your high-touch customer service. There are tons of free apps you can add to your existing customer service toolbox that addresses each milestone in the customer journey--without sacrificing human interaction. One example is Pipedrive, which helps to organize your sales funnel so you can make more in-person sales calls.
If your business allows customers to text you, you can integrate SupportBee with ClickSend via Zapier so that all of your texts are created as tickets in a centralized hub.
For businesses that use project management software like Basecamp, there are some easy-to-install integrations that work well with Basecamp and SupportBee, among other tools.
How have you used tech to improve the quality of your high-touch customer service model? Share your hacks in the comment below!