Essential Skills for Digital Customer Service

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  • 0:04 Customer Service
  • 1:18 Responding to Customers Online
  • 2:01 Be Professional
  • 3:22 Be Prompt
  • 4:32 Be Protective
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Essential skills for digital customer service range from writing a professional response to properly verifying customer data. In this lesson, you'll learn more about critical skills needed for handling digital service inquiries.

Customer Service

Nearly 70 percent of consumers now turn to social media for their customer service needs, according to a J.D. Power survey. That includes brands like airline carrier JetBlue. A passenger on a recent flight was disappointed to discover he was going to ride out the entire flight with no access to TV or movies, thanks to the broken television unit in front of him. His tweet to the airline about the experience did not go unnoticed, and within minutes he had been given a credit by the company for the lack of entertainment.

JetBlue could've easily ignored the customer's tweet and, in all likelihood, would've suffered no repercussions for it. Instead, they chose to address the customer's concern, earning them a little extra loyalty and goodwill.

There's no doubt that digital customer service has changed nearly everything about the way customer service inquiries are handled. While call center agents are still handling customer concerns, there are a myriad of other choices for customers to get their concerns voiced: website live chat, email, and social media. How agents respond and react to comments and complaints in the digital arena can impact everything from customer engagement to customer loyalty. Let's examine some essentials when handling digital customer service inquiries.

Responding to Customers Online

Handling customers in the digital sphere requires some extra attention to some customer services specifics.

Handling the bevy of technology options available to customers today, whether email, live chat, or social media, creates new challenges for business. First, it means that brands must choose the particular channels it's most capable of managing efficiently. That might mean routing all service requests through social media instead of email. For brands that choose multiple channels, it means properly training service reps on best practices of email customer service versus social media customer service. For representatives, it may even mean understanding and using multiple channels at the same time.

Be Professional

Whatever channels are being used, the No. 1 priority of representatives is to respond professionally, or in a way that is calm and helpful, at all times. It can be easy to become frustrated with demanding customers or get dragged down to their level of pettiness or anger. A professional response may need to begin with a deep breath on your part. Listen beyond the frustration to the real problem the customer is having. Ask supportive questions like, ''Is there anything else that's wrong?'' to help you get them to a quick resolution.

Part of being professional is knowing how your tone or attitude impacts the conversation, from the customer's mood to their level of engagement. You might be thinking, ''How does a customer know my tone in an email?'' Think about this: When was the last time you were texting with someone and you could tell from their responses that they were angry?'' It's true that a lot of context gets lost in emails and text messages, so it's doubly important to double-down on ensuring your tone is right.

Choose your words and questions carefully. Address the customer by name and include the words ''please'' and ''thank you'' when appropriate. Use the customer's own terminology to show that you are on the same page. Go out of your way to use a soft, informative, and non-inflammatory tone that sets a customer at ease and encourages them to engage and cooperate with you.

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