Every time a customer gets in touch with your business is a chance to make a good impression. Don’t forget, most customers don’t want to contact you at all and it is usually a sign that something has gone wrong. Making it easy for your customers to reach out and then responding in a kind, polite and courteous manner is the bare minimum your business should be looking to achieve.
Quality customer service is the key factor that customers are looking for when deciding whether or not to do business with your company. Any competitor can offer the same products and services as you, but only you can create your own unique customer experience. So why wouldn’t you treat every customer inquiry as an opportunity to do just that?
When your business sells a product to a customer, it’s making a promise to provide good service that will keep the customer happy and lead to customer satisfaction.
Dealing with customer inquiries can be complex and requires established processes to streamline the experience. You need competent agents who have been trained in the art of helping customers and can portray your brand in a positive light.
What are customer inquiries?
Customer inquiries are any instance in which a customer gets in touch with your company to request information, make a complaint, or share an experience. There are all sorts of reasons why customers might reach out and they are expecting a timely and effective response.
Customer inquiries may come in through any channel such as email, phone, social media or live chat, and usually are dealt with in a centralized call or contact center. Most businesses have a team of customer service agents who are dedicated to dealing with the company’s customer inquiries.
The inquiries you receive usually have differing levels of urgency. For example, an inquiry about a feature of your company’s products is less urgent than reports of a system outage, and you’ll want to prioritize your inquiries accordingly.
Customers who submit inquiries are expecting a timely and effective response, and they will feel dissatisfied if your organization fails to deliver.
The importance of responding to customer inquiries
Retains more customers
Many customers who make inquiries could be on the verge of leaving your business. By getting in touch, they are giving you the chance to salvage the situation and win back their loyalty. If a company’s customer service is excellent, 78% of customers will do business with them again after a mistake.
Responding effectively and quickly to customer inquiries shows that you value your customer’s time, and are willing to go the extra mile to make things right. Customers aren’t going to wait around for a long time for your business to get back to them, and they want an answer yesterday.
Dealing with your customer’s inquiries generates loyalty to your business as customers know you will look after their interests, and helps with customer retention.
Generates positive word-of-mouth
90% of customers trust suggestions from family and friends, and 70% trust consumer reviews. When you treat your customers well through effectively handling their inquiries, they have a positive brand experience which they then share with people they know and online.
This means that companies can acquire new customers through satisfied customers who generate referrals. It’s well worth your business’s time to invest in customer service and respond to customer inquiries quickly and effectively. It helps you avoid bad word of mouth such as online reviews which deter potential customers.
When you help customers with their inquiries, you give them more reasons to recommend your brand.
Preserves your brand’s reputation
When something has gone wrong, this has the potential to leave a black mark on the reputation of your business. Customers are disappointed and you have not created the experience you led them to expect.
Of course, mistakes are inevitable but effectively dealing with customer inquiries means you can preserve your brand’s reputation. You can make apologies and offer compensation, thereby salvaging your business in the eyes of existing and potential customers.
After one bad experience, 80% of customers say they would rather do business with a competitor. Making it up to these customers is crucial if you don’t want to lose money and customers.
Provides feedback about your business
When you respond to customer inquiries you can take advantage of a valuable source of feedback about your business. For example, customers may regularly inquire about whether your business offers a certain type of service. You can use this inquiry to understand what customers want and whether you should consider expanding your offering, or at the very least offer more detailed customer information on your website.
There is always something you can learn from your customer inquiries. Naturally, you can create processes in your customer support team where they can report common inquiries so your business can tackle the root of the problem.
Any time customers volunteer their opinion about your brand is an opportunity for your business to learn how it can be better.
Allows you to create a better customer experience
80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as the products and services. When you respond effectively to your customer inquiries, you can create a more positive experience for your customers who find it easy and intuitive to get in touch. You don’t keep customers waiting or make them feel like their inquiry is a burden on your support team.
You can’t provide a great experience if you focus only on the product, without taking the service into account. It’s those interactions that customers have with your representatives which are most memorable and earn their loyalty to your brand.
A better customer experience can generate more profits for your business through customers who are willing to spend more.
How to efficiently handle customer inquiries
Develop clear policies
When you have a customer service policy in place your agents are clear on how to handle customers. They know what to do when a complaint comes in and how the business wishes to deal with it. They can become a better representative of your brand and customers can benefit from a consistent experience.
Customer service reps who can follow simple guidelines on how to interact with customers are better placed to offer excellent customer service. They are more accountable to your business and can offer a consistent experience due to having a written code of conduct.
When you make your customer service policies explicit this raises the standard of service your agents are able to offer.
Define an escalation process
There will always be those times that a customer inquiry cannot be dealt with by a frontline agent. They may not have the experience, the inquiry might be too technical , or it might require the authorisation of a manager. Having a clear escalation process in place means these types of inquiries can be dealt with efficiently.
Of course, it’s important to keep this process almost invisible to customers. Never should they have to repeat information in order to get their problem solved. Your customer support software should record all the necessary details in order to get a problem escalated to the right person.
You should think about whether to make it easier for your agents to help customers by empowering your tier 1 agents.
Continuously train your agents
It’s a good idea to keep training your agents so they are always at the top of their game when it comes to dealing with customer calls. After all, your agents are the representatives of your brand and responsible for creating a good impression with your customers.
Customer service agents can always benefit from learning new customer service skills which allow them to better help your customers. Training topics can range from problem-solving, to active listening, to how to deal with angry customers.
Well-trained agents are more competent and are more easily able to make your customers happy.
Deflect inquiries with self-service
You’ll be able to more efficiently handle more customer inquiries if you deflect some tickets using self-service resources. For example, a self-service customer knowledge base can offer answers to common customer inquiries such as how to set up your product and how to troubleshoot typical problems.
When you deflect more queries with self-service, your agents have more time to devote to the more complex inquiries. You can scale your service team to support a growing customer base without the need to hire more agents.
You can raise the morale of your customer service agents when they aren’t dealing with too many repetitive inquiries.
Place inquiries into categories
When you place your inquiries into categories you are more able to deal with related queries. Inquiries that are labeled with the same category can be assigned to the same agent to deal with to enhance efficiency.
For example, you might be getting inquiries all relating to customer’s dissatisfaction with a particular product. This lets your team know there is something wrong with the product and you might want to proactively offer a refund to all customers who have bought it.
You can use tags in Keeping for an easy way to add context to a ticket or keep track of certain topics in your mailbox. Even though Keeping works in Gmail, tags are independent from Gmail’s own label system.
Track KPIs for better performance
You won’t be able to improve the way your team handles customer inquiries if you don’t keep track of key help desk metrics that help you analyze performance. Important metrics you can track are first contact resolution, first response time, to ticket closure rate.
When you keep an eye on these metrics you’ll be able to see where your team is excelling and where they need help. For example, if the first response time of one of your agents is creeping up, this might be a sign they are being assigned too many customer inquiries and they need more help.
Aside from customer feedback, KPIs give you insight into whether you are effectively dealing with customer inqquiries.
6 types of customer inquiries
Customers submit complaints when they are not happy with your service or something has gone wrong. Complaints don’t necessarily have to be from angry customers but most customers with complaints will expect some kind of reparation. Customer complaints need to be dealt with very quickly and with the utmost care and conscientiousness.
2. Sales inquiries
Sales inquiries are fairly routine inquiries from customers who want to learn more about your products and services. In this case, they will often turn to your service team for advice, who can recommend products to customers or provide more information about your offering.
3. Feature requests
If your company sells software then you may often get ideas from customers who want to suggest feature requests. These are requests for features that customers would like to see which they think would add value to the product. It’s important to log these features and consider incorporating them into your product roadmap.
4. Technical support
Companies with technical products often receive customer inquiries from customers who need help with troubleshooting problems. These could be common glitches with the software or support for when things go seriously wrong. You’ll need a trained technical support team to help these customers.
5. Returns and refunds
Sadly there will always be those times when the product just wasn’t suitable for the customer. When this happens the customer is likely to contact you with a returns or refund inquiry. Whether you offer this to them depends on your own policy and whether the customer qualifies.
6. Customer feedback
Sometimes customers just want to offer their feedback about your brand, and you’ll want to have a system in place to capture these types of inquiries. Spontaneous customer feedback is very valuable and you should thank your customers for taking the time to submit feedback.
Businesses who effectively deal with their customer inquiries will enjoy a better brand reputation and more loyal and satisfied customers. It’s shocking to think that many businesses just leave their customer inquiries hanging and never provide a response. There’s nothing worse than contacting a business for help and feeling ignored, or receiving a brusque and unhelpful response.
Every customer inquiry is important and requires a well-crafted, thoughtful reply.
Dealing with your customer inquiries leads to many benefits such as retaining more customers and generating positive word-of-mouth. Your business can’t afford to neglect its customers if it wants to remain competitive and prevent customers from defecting to its rivals.