As more and more businesses move online, customer service is fast becoming an integral part of a business's online presence. From negative reviews to comments on social media, bad customer service can significantly hurt a brand if a customer chooses to air their grievances online.

With this in mind, digital marketing expert Fishtank Agency has put together a guide to assist businesses in creating an exceptional customer service experience online.

Focus on positive customer experience to drive brand loyalty
With the rising cost of living at the forefront of consumers’ minds, there is a longer consideration stage before conversion and people are scrutinising brands more before they buy. Demonstrating flawless customer service can convince them to purchase goods and encourage them to return in the future.

Studies show that excellent customer experience can influence brand loyalty, with 35% of UK customers advising they would be prepared to pay more to guarantee excellent service in 2022.¹

One of the most important tactics for a positive customer experience is to respond quickly to the customer with the correct information. This avoids confusion and helps solve the problem by staying focused on the facts of the customer case. Understanding the value of a customer or client having a great experience is vital across all market sectors, where brand loyalty is key to maintaining a steady income stream.

Jacy Yates, senior account manager explains, “We’re finding that more and more businesses in sectors such as manufacturing and engineering, where traditionally the product was king, are now understanding the value and benefits of a good customer relationship.

“For example, integrated communications are essential in manufacturing to effectively provide products across different sectors. The manufacturing industry relies on positive customer experience, so having the correct tools to communicate internally and with the end-user helps streamline business processes and eliminate the chances of mistakes."

Analyse feedback and metrics regularly
Businesses need to maintain sight of the fact that positive online feedback can drive business growth forward. With all businesses, there will be times when a customer is part of a situation unusual to the business, and how that’s dealt with can make the difference between a good and bad experience.

Gaining customer experience feedback can be as simple as sending out a questionnaire to fill in at the end of each transaction or creating an email campaign to ask customers to rate how positive they found the experience.

Understanding negative experiences and asking for feedback on how things went will help to improve the next customer experience, creating an upward growth pattern based on feedback and constructive criticism.

Businesses can review metrics, such as the rate of returning customers or average resolution time, to help review how effective their service is for retaining customers in the long term.

Deliver real-time customer support to the website
With UK businesses spending a total of £9.24 billion every month on complaints handling², it’s more important than ever that customer service platforms deliver seamless support to try and mitigate the time and expense it takes to solve customer issues.

Digital marketing and technology both allow customers not only to access correct information quickly, but it can offer a way for customers to engage with ease, ask specific questions and gain accurate responses. However, businesses must consider what resources and technology will provide the most valuable experience for the user and what suits the business.

For example, incorporating an instant chat tool is only beneficial if you can have somebody available to respond to the query at all times; otherwise, it is frustrating for the user and can reflect poorly on the business.

Offer customer support through social media channels
Social channels are a perfect tool for direct communication and developing brand presence, as many of your customers are on various social media channels and can be contacted at the click of a button.

The accessible nature of social media allows brands to have a low-cost solution to instant messaging and facilitate customers to give quick feedback to brands online. In this way, building a brand presence on the social media platforms that serve your business is essential. For example, LinkedIn is the perfect place for a B2B business to converse with its clients on a professional and user-friendly platform.

Jacy adds, “We always encourage businesses to maintain a well-structured social media presence and ensure they have the resources to manage daily interactions and campaigns.

Offering customer support via social media channels is not something to be undertaken lightly. The very nature of the 24/7 response requirement means that getting the right advice on customer service is essential.”

Train employees and offer CPD in customer service
As much as a great digital platform and online presence can help ensure your customers have a good experience with your business, it’s also important to remember that most of these interactions will rely on physical employees.

The key to building a good relationship is to have the right people with the proper knowledge and expertise to deal with queries as they arise. This is where CPD (Continuous Professional Development) is essential, as sharing knowledge and understanding who is the best person to deal with a particular query could be the difference between a conversion or a loss.

Jacy summarises, “Delivering exceptional customer service online is crucial to businesses in all sectors, no matter how big or small. With the current cost of living putting pressure on companies to reduce cost in areas, improving customer service will not only save time and money but will encourage customers to return to you in the future.”