What Is Virtual Customer Service?
The virtual customer service industry is booming, and for a good reason. It’s an effective way for businesses to successfully tackle their customer service duties for less money than keeping them in-office. Sounds appealing, right?
But, what is virtual customer service, and how does it work? Why would a company choose to have such a critical function handled outside of their office?
In this article, we’ll go over everything you should know about virtual customer service so you can determine if it’s right for your business and how to ensure it’s a success.
Virtual Customer Service Defined
Let’s break it down. Virtual means happening online or not in-person physically. Customer service is providing support after a sale is made.
So, virtual customer service is the support function not in the standard face-to-face office setting. It’s providing customer service at another location that communicates over the computer or by phone.
How Does Virtual Customer Service Work
Virtual customer service is set up differently depending on the organization’s size, call volume, and business model. There’s also a variety of options for delivering virtual customer service, such as:
- Chatbots – Some customers would rather figure things out on their own. Self-service chatbots are an excellent way to quickly provide quick answers to commonly asked questions and issues to satisfy customers' needs without help from a live representative.
- Live chat – Having a virtual live representative ready to chat online with customers to support them quickly, many companies are incorporating this into their virtual customer service model.
- SMS Messaging – Depending on your customer’s demographics, utilizing SMS to receive service is a huge benefit for them. A virtual live representative can text back and forth to answer questions and provide the support they need.
- Social media – Most people nowadays are on social media, and some reach out to companies via the platforms to get the service they need. A virtual customer service agent will receive the notifications, answer questions, and satisfy the customers' needs through messaging on the platform.
- Phone Calls – Yes, some people think picking up the phone to call a company is old school, but you might be surprised to know most customers still reach out to talk over the phone when needing service.
As you can see, there are many ways virtual customer service is provided, but there are also a few locations the virtual agents operate out of. Some companies hire virtual customer service representatives that work out of their homes. The business needs to oversee the agents' production and monitor their success virtually.
Other companies outsource their virtual customer service to a third party that handles the function from their own office. The customer service outsourcing provider oversees the operations and agents' success.
The process is the same regardless of where the virtual customer service agent is working. The customer reaches out for service through whichever channel they decide to use, and the agent handles the communication until their needs are satisfied.
The customer service agent makes notes in the account of the interaction and completes anything additional needed to fulfill the customer's request. Then, the customer service agent moves on to the next client, reaching out for support.
Benefits of Virtual Customer Service
Customer service is an essential business function, but doing it cost-effectively can be challenging. Many business leaders choose virtual customer service options to cut costs while delivering excellent customer care.
With the competition high and consumers calling the shots, no business can risk not providing the support its customers need when they need it. Outsourcing customer service gives companies the competitive advantage to retain more customers and increase revenue. How? Let’s see.
Lowering cost is the primary reason business leaders decide to utilize virtual customer service. Running a business is expensive at times, and leaders are always looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. Virtual customer service helps lower expenses by:
- Eliminating the need for additional office space
- Avoiding investing in costly technology, equipment, and software
- Skipping all the extra expenses that come with employees in the office
Better Customer Service
Providing inadequate customer service will sink your revenue fast. Retaining customers is challenging, especially when they get hit left and right with creative ads from competitors. You can keep more of your customers and turn them into loyal brand advocates by providing kick-ass customer service.
Having a team solely dedicated to customer service helps ensure your customers receive the support they need quickly and efficiently. Virtual customer service also allows companies to offer support 24/7 with ease. Consumers want service when they need it, no matter the time of day or night, and if you're going to retain them, you must be ready to deliver.
Virtual customer service means having professionals on the job to service customers through any channel they choose at all hours. It shows customers that they are important, and you will do what it takes to ensure they are satisfied with your brand.
Virtual customer service avoids the need for in-office employees to multitask to handle this critical function which isn’t effective. It allows the customer support team to remain focused on satisfying customers’ needs.
Outsourcing the customer service gives the in-office team the advantage of focusing on other critical tasks, including strategic planning for improvement and growth. Keeping each employee focused on their best job is a great way to improve the quality of work delivered and maximize productivity.
Virtual Customer Service Best Practices
The goal of every company should be to have the best products or services that customers don’t need to contact after the sale for support. But, the truth is the customer service duties aren’t going anywhere. There will always be customers that reach out for help, so be always prepared to have coverage to deliver.
How you handle your virtual customer service function is vital for its success. If it's not set up and managed properly, it can backfire and sink your revenue fast. Let’s dive in and look at the best practices for virtual customer service to ensure your customers receive excellent care.
- Handpick highly-specialized customer service agents with the right attitudes that understand the importance of providing exceptional care
- Provide the proper training to staff before they wear the customer service hat to ensure they know how to deliver excellent support to make customers happy
- Ensure your team is always happy, productive, and making a positive impact on customers
- Track and analyze agent’s performance and implement any changes needed to improve when needed, whether it be additional training or a shift in current processes
- Providing and maintaining up-to-date technology so your virtual customer service agents are capable of delivering great service fast and efficiently is a must
Qualities of Excellent Virtual Customer Service Agents
Hiring the right staff to handle the important role of delivering exceptional customer service is vital. After all, your business is on the line, and consumer expectations for customer service are on the rise, so you must deliver to succeed long-term.
Here’s what to look for in potential candidates for your virtual customer service position:
Excellent verbal and written communication skills are needed for agents to ensure customers feel heard and understand solutions to issues.
Since they’re not in person communicating, they’ll need to digitally acknowledge and satisfy customers' needs which takes the right skill and patience at times.
Virtual customer service agents don’t always have the support right next to them to help them with the right answers to questions or problems.
Excellent decision-making skills help virtual customer service agents independently determine the best solutions to issues that arise.
The secret to providing great customer service is empathy. Empathizing with a customer reaching out for help means putting yourself in their shoes to understand their feelings and then caring enough to help with effective solutions.
Active listening is part of showing empathy during customer service interactions.
For most jobs, people skills are needed to survive. For virtual customer service agents, people skills are a must. The role involves interacting virtually with various people with different backgrounds, demographics, and attitudes.
Maintaining patience and a positive attitude help ensure customers leave happy and cared for, the ultimate goal.
OK, virtual customer service agents don’t need to know how to write code, develop software, or anything tech crazy, but they need to understand the basics. The virtual customer service agent often works while utilizing technology and software to communicate. So, for a smooth transaction, they need to have a good working knowledge of the technology used.
Providing excellent customer service is essential for the smooth running of a business and gaining revenue long-term. But, with the right staff and tools, the duties can essentially get completed anywhere, making virtual customer service an excellent option.
Be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure your virtual customer service successfully satisfies your customer’s needs effectively and quickly. After all, customers are the lifeblood of a business, and without them, there is no business. So, be sure they receive exceptional customer care every time.
Are you ready to get your virtual customer service handled by the pros? If so, contact Awesome CX today!