Your customer care team needs to be available at all times, whenever your customers want them. At this time of digital transformation 24/7 customer service accessibility is becoming less of a ‘nice-to-have’ and more of an expectation. But a lot of companies still operate on a 9-5 schedule, with even their call centres and online communication tools closing outside of these core business hours.
Businesses like this will inevitably get left behind, as customers shift to brands that they’re able to contact any time they want. 24/7 customer care can be difficult to provide, but the pressure to adapt and upgrade only appears to be growing.
We’ve put together a guide for customer-facing businesses to demonstrate customer demand for round-the-clock customer service and help you to make the move from 9-5 to 24/7.
The Benefits of Switching to 24/7 Customer Care
1. Keep customers satisfied
As we said, people are more connected than ever. In 2021, there were as many as 6.2 billion smartphone subscriptions worldwide, predicted to rise to 6.5 billion in 2022; that’s 82% of the world’s population. And the UK has the second highest smartphone penetration in the world at 78.9%.
With so much of your customer base having access to your brand 24/7, it’s important to be available to them when they want you to be. It’s no longer odd to do some quick browsing before bed, or even to talk to customer support in the morning, again on your lunch break, and again on the way home. As a brand, you need to be there all the time to cater to this shift in mindset.
Even if your business isn’t online, it doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. Like Primark, you might not be an e-commerce enterprise but you should still have 24/7 customer care. With 4 out of 5 brick and mortar brands providing a customer service email address, if you’re not there to answer their emails or solve their problems when they need it, customers will simply take their business elsewhere.
Let’s take an example client of ours, client A. Their busiest hours, like many retailers, are between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. but that doesn’t mean they don’t also have customers contacting the department during the wee hours. Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., they still see an average of over 200 contacts an hour. That’s over 1000 contacts you could be missing overnight. And missed contacts aren’t something to be sniffed at, because customers are now expecting more from their customer care journey.
Let’s take a look at what some of those expectations are:
- Nearly half of customers (46%) expect companies to respond to an email faster than 4 hours, whilst 12% expect a reply within just 15 minutes or less.
- According to Microsoft, 58% of customers will sever a relationship with a brand if their customer service needs aren’t met.
- 58% of customers expect to feel heard, appreciated, and valued
So, the question becomes “can you afford to not switch to 24/7 customer care?”
2. Increase in Sales
The higher your customer satisfaction, the more likely it is they’ll buy from you again. So it naturally falls, if you’re meeting the customer expectations above, you have more satisfied customers, and therefore more customers likely to make repeat purchases.
If you need help making a purchase, being able to speak to a human being right away gives you confidence in going ahead with your investment.
Here are some ways 24/7 customer care increases your sales:
- Access to live chat can bring a 20% increase in conversion rates
- According to Salesforce, 67% of customers will pay more for a good customer experience
- 33% of customers said they’d recommend a brand that offered a “quick but ineffective response” compared to only 17% who said the same for a “slow but effective solution”
3. Increased Customer Retention
It probably seems obvious, but customers are more likely to use a business again if they get a quick and helpful response to their query. With 24/7 customer care, you can ensure that no customer is left feeling ignored.
For companies that are tightening purse strings, the cost of hiring more staff or moving your customer care to 24/7 may seem insurmountable. But, whilst the cost may not be as high as you perceive (more on that later), the benefit of providing your customers with what they want is undeniable.
Some key benefits of increased customer retention:
- A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as cutting costs by 10%
- IBM says that by increasing customer retention rate, businesses could increase profit by over 90%
- Loyal customers also bring in new business, according to Salesforce.
But What About Now?
Customer service has seen a huge transformation over the past two years, in the wake of the pandemic, more companies are making a shift towards digital transformation and hybrid working. Many brands made the move to e-commerce and with more competition for business, customer service and customer experience are becoming a key differentiator. With up to 12 minutes response time from a lot of e-tailers and so many getting back to social media message and hour later, or sometimes not at all, providing 24/7 customer care could really make you stand out from the crowd.
It’s also important to note another piece of customer service advice we learned throughout the pandemic, during times of difficulty your customer support services should be as accessible as possible. Many of the practices adopted during lockdown have either been discarded or become the ‘norm’ but brands need to be prepared for the future crises.
Hopefully we won’t face another global pandemic, but your company could face a mass product recall or a supply shortage due to war or changes in government policy, each of which has an impact on contact volumes and the type of contacts received. Cutting down or failing to expand on your availability at those times will only leave customers frustrated and less satisfied with your service. If you can shine during times of trouble, you could win over some new loyal customers. As we said earlier, customers are more than happy to switch brands due to bad customer service interactions, so don’t leave your customers in the dark!
How to Implement a 24-7 Customer Care
1. Work Remotely
So how do you go about increasing your hours? It’s not necessarily the case of having crowded room full of your customer care advisors at all hours. Whilst this is how it may have been done in the past, many advisors are now working remotely and the benefits are huge.
Digital is where it’s at and remote working and digital are a match made in heaven. Webchat works in real-time and is even more effective than telephony. All your advisors need is a computer/laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. It can also make you more agile. You can hire temporary staff or try outsourcing to see if 24/7 customer care can work for you.
At a glance
- Hire remote workers
- Workers only need a computer and wi-fi connection
- Helps you be agile – it’s easier to hire temporary staff remotely
2. Hiring and Training
And with hybrid and flexible working on the rise, employing temporary staff has never been easier. Easy enough to say, right? But what about training? We recommend you use software like Gnatta to help you train. Gnatta can provide notes and reminders to the advisors that you have written at specific times that you’ve chosen. So, you can be there every step of every interaction for new advisors without having to constantly check-up or provide lengthy one-on-one training.
At a glance
- Employ temporary staff to try out 24/7 customer care
- Use software for training, like Gnatta
- Helps you be agile – it’s easier to hire temporary staff remotely
3. Consider Outsourcing to Reduce Your Costs
And don’t forget, you can always outsource your labour. Hiring an expert team like FM Outsource, who are already using expert technology like Gnatta, means you don’t have to worry about a thing.
All your labour will be covered, and your customers will be looked after. Outsourcing means the team you pick are already fully trained, familiar with the software they’ll be using, and come with all the necessary equipment. All you need to do is introduce them to your brand.
And, unsurprisingly, outsourcing your labour can often be cheaper than changing your operation in-house. Don’t believe it? Take a look here at our latest calculations to see just how much money we could be saving you.
At a glance
- Hire an expert team like FM Outsource
- Quickly scale up to 24/7 customer care
- Outsourcing can often be cheaper
4. Integrate Useful Technology
Lastly, consider leaning on technology a little more. “Chatbot” sounds like a bit of tech that’s depersonalised and clunky but the technology for bots is improving constantly. Their ability to recognise and learn language, make their own (correct) decisions, know when to hand over to a human, and their super-fast response times make them a perfect choice for many businesses. They can answer all your FAQs and gather important data so the advisor doesn’t have to. With bots working alongside your advisors, you can cut down on both contact volumes and resolution times.
At a glance
- Use chatbots – they are becoming much more sophisticated
- Chatbots can be available 24/7
- Chatbots can be used alongside advisors to cut down contact volume and time
Being available when your customers need you is always a good idea; the facts are that customers are expecting more from brands and are more willing to switch if they’re not satisfied. And in current times those same customers are worried, confused, and sometimes frustrated. They need fantastic 24/7 customer care to help allay their fears and concerns.
If you’d like to chat more about how to introduce more hours into your operation, get in touch below.
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