Business growth is always something to seek at any cost. But, what many businesses fail to realize is that rapidly growing client lists also mean a great increase in customer service demand which will affect customer experience. And not being able to handle your customer complaints efficiently and questions is not only a bad business practice, but it can snowball to giving your company a bad reputation in the market. In fact, according to But how to ensure a top quality customer service experience? It is a difficult question that many companies have tried to answer, but some approaches and techniques have proven to be more effective than others. Traditionally, bigger companies have an on-site customer service departments, but this approach can be tough for small businesses. First off, the sheer costs of hiring even one full-time employee can be very significant for a business that’s still dealing with a lot of startup expenses, not to mention needing multiple staff members for handling customers. Secondly, in today’s world, where accessibility is so important, being available only during working hours can leave many of your current and potential customers frustrated, having to wait for days at a time to get a response. Even small businesses have the expectation of readily available solutions for customers. The solution that can have a very positive impact is using a professional customer service provider for answering calls and handling emails, as well as other platforms of customer care. It can not only lift an enormous burden from the staff but is also usually a very cost-effective solution. 4 Pillars of a Comprehensive Customer Service Strategy A successful customer service strategy for companies of almost any size consists of some combination of these basic platforms for communication with customers. There are many approaches to each of them, as well as many ways that they can be set up, but as a general rule, having more options for the customer to reach a company is always a good idea. #1. Live Chat According to a study by Forrester Research, a very impressive 44% of online customers rate having a live chat as one of the most important features that a website can have. Showing that, while many people want to have an interaction with a live representative before making a purchase or when they’re having a problem, not all of them are willing to actually pick up a phone and call. Live chat is a very convenient way to solve problems immediately and requires little time and money. #2. Answering Service While being available online is certainly important, a business still has to be reachable by phone. As shown by a 2011 survey done by American Express, 67% of customers have hung up the phone or threatened to move to a competitor in frustrations because they could not talk to a real representative of the company. Every company that wants to have a positive interaction with its customers must have a professional available to answer calls promptly not only during work hours but preferably 24 hours per day, seven days per week. While having someone available for calls locally in your office is very expensive and inconvenient, it is easy and cost-effective to hire a professional answering service company to handle all of your calls. #3. Email Email is arguably the most convenient way for customers to reach a business with questions or problems. However, it is shocking how many companies take days to answer a simple email, and when they do, it usually doesn’t provide any tangible solutions. And according to a report by BenchmarkPortal, the quality of the email response is just as important as the timeliness of it. Meaning, emails not only have to be answered promptly but also need to provide actual, tangible solutions. Otherwise, the customer will just not be satisfied with the provided service. #4. Social Media Social media is a prominent marketing tool for companies and has quickly become a vital part of customer service. It provides a convenient platform to solve customer problems and open dialogue between companies and customers in real time. The Nielsen‘s Social Media Report of 2012 showed that almost half of all U.S. consumers had used social media to ask questions, rate a company or report a complaint. This number likely only increased in the years since. After all, it is the place where the customers often hang out – so being available for immediate interaction once they post a comment or send a private message to the company’s Facebook page can have a substantial impact on the way its audience perceives the company. How to Make Customer Service More Cost-Effective While the options mentioned above are all effective, many companies are hesitant to use them because it can be very complicated to handle them with their on-site staff. However, today many companies specialize in taking over the entire customer service process, providing professional customer care 24 hours per day, seven days per week. These virtual receptionist companies have experience in dealing with almost any situation, so the customers always receive consistent, professional help, no matter what the problem might be. And when you factor in just how cost-effective it is to hire a customer service provider instead of hiring employees yourself, it becomes a no-brainer. In fact, with the increasing use of these services in almost all industries, the companies that don’t employ the strategy could soon face an uphill battle against the competition. Image: Hand turning a knob to the top position, blue light and blur effect. Concept image for excellent customer service.