Using customer complaints to improve online customer experience

If you want to know how to make and keep customers happy, seek answers from your customer complaints database.

That’s the advice Tim Sheedy, principal analyst of Forrester Research, has for businesses that want to improve their online shopping and service experience.

Sure, it seems obvious, but many businesses – even large businesses – fail to use customer feedback as the catalyst for improving the online experience, Sheedy says.

Therefore, businesses also fail to recognise that a poor customer experience can reduce potential profits.

Becca Krass, a product marketer at marketing software company Salesforce, agrees with Sheedy’s argument, saying today’s customers expect to be heard, and expect quick solutions to their problems.

These are three steps small business owners can take to improve their online customer service. 

Monitor customer feedback on every online channel you use

Research from customer intelligence consultancy Walker revealed by 2020, experience will be a more important factor in purchase decisions than product or price.

So it’s important to actively monitor and respond to customer feedback.

Any online channel on which customers can contact you – a website, an email address, or any social media account – is a database of customer feedback.

Today’s customers expect you to respond to their feedback and provide solutions within hours, not days. 

Help customers immediately solve their own problems

Krass says in a global market, it’s too easy for customers to leave your business.

“If customers have obstacles, they’re going to leave because there’s always someone else who can do what you do,” Krass says.

There’s increasing pressure to provide on-the-spot solutions to any problem a customer encounters.

Dating app, Hinge – which sets up 50,000 dates per week – found a way to try to instantly solve its users’ problems: the company embedded relevant FAQs on each screen of the app.

The functionality provided users a quick and clear escalation path for any issues they had, without needing to contact customer service.

Online customer
Help customers find answers to their questions about your product or service.

Scale your customer service offering

When Hinge users needed to escalate a problem to the customer service team, their questions were directed to a two-person team. Just two!

Hinge makes sure its FAQs provide clear answers so customers can find answers before contacting customer service.

It reduced the need to hire more customer service team members.

But they offer just one product – the app – so customer numbers could grow without the types of enquiries changing dramatically.

Customer researching information online
Give customer on-hand information so they can find answers for themselves.

What happens when your products and customer numbers are both growing?

You need technology that will scale with your business’ growth, Krass advises.

Cindy Dent, customer service lead at online homewares retailer Temple&Webster, says her team found it “impossible to manage customer enquiries in an inbox” once enquiries reached 100 per day.

Enquiries were rapidly increasing as the product range and customer base (which is currently 1.5 million) grew.

She recognised the business needed to invest in technology that would help automate some processes, and collate enquiries from multiple service channels (website, emails, and social media), while still giving customers personalised responses.

Temple&Webster chose to invest in, a helpdesk for small businesses.

Dent says implementing the platform has allowed her team to respond to customers faster, to see the interactions history clearly, and to help her make decisions about how to resource her team.

“We know certain enquiries will be quick, and others need time, but it’s easy to recognise that because we have the processes built into,” Cindy says.