No one questions how important customer support is—the value of providing clients with an exceptional experience is evident—yet the extent to which customer support truly influences customer behavior is often overlooked.
In fact, 83% of people surveyed agreed that a company's ability to provide exceptional customer service, which includes the ability to quickly respond and resolve customer complaints, made them feel more loyal to a company. Moreover, another study found that 86% of people are willing to pay more if it means receiving great customer service and support.
While customers clearly know where their priorities lie, many companies seem either unaware or don't place great importance on how the customer service they provide is perceived. On average, businesses underestimate the rate at which customers have poor experiences by a whopping 38%. That is a huge gap in perception between company and customer.
Part of this disconnect is due to 79% of consumers craving a quick response. When they have to wait for their customer support request to be addressed, they will likely view the experience as less than positive.
To tackle this particular challenge head-on, businesses must adapt to the desire for immediacy that customers express. Part of being able to fulfill this customer desire is your company's ability to provide after-hours customer support. In other words, by providing customer support even when your business is not actively operating, you can better meet the demand for a quick response or resolution, allowing you to create a better customer experience.
Read on to learn about:
- The business benefits of providing after-hours customer support
- Strategies and tools that can be used to help your business provide after-hours customer support
Why After-Hours Customer Support is a Must-Have for Your Business
How often do you scroll through a business’ website or online store during non-business hours? Whether you are just perusing the latest updates or shopping for something in particular, much of your time spent interacting with businesses is done online and likely takes place outside of the traditional business hours of 9 to 5.
The average consumer is no different, and when they have questions or experience difficulties while interacting with your business, they do not want to wait until the three-day weekend is over for that issue to be resolved. Their need for support does not disappear when the lights in your office shut off.
Of course, it is unrealistic for you and your team to be available at all hours of the night, including holidays. So, how do you strike a balance between work life, home life, and giving your customers the positive experience they deserve?
After-hours customer support.
This anecdote is only one example in a myriad of examples portraying the value of after-hours customer support. Your customers should receive great service no matter what the time and the reasons to offer after-hours customer support do not stop there.
Stand Out from the Crowd
After-hours customer service sets you apart from your competitors. This is a point that is easy to see with simple observation, and the numbers back it up—83% of consumers feel more loyalty to brands that they feel take them seriously by responding to and resolving their complaints. Providing that service 24/7 gives you a distinct advantage over a business that does not.
You don’t have to commit to the extreme expense of having customer service representatives available at all hours, either. With automated self-service, you can give your customers what they want—and 60% of consumers prefer self-service anyway.
Customer service has a profound impact on consumer actions. However, what is perceived as satisfactory customer service is continually changing, making your job as a business far more difficult. After all, how do you exceed expectations when the standard is always being raised?
For reference, 54% of consumers reported that their customer service expectations were higher year-over-year. This means that keeping customers satisfied is more challenging than ever, but not to worry. By staying ahead of the curve and offering after-hours service to your customers, you can set yourself up for success despite shifting customer-driven standards.
Improve Customer Satisfaction
Every business would prefer to have satisfied customers, but many overlook just how vital customer satisfaction truly is in operating a successful business. A whopping 65% of consumers reported that they took their business to another brand because of a poor customer care experience.
On the flip side of this customer satisfaction conundrum is the positive—62% of customers recommend brands to their friends because they received superb service. In other words, customer satisfaction can make or break your business by driving away existing customers or attracting new ones via word of mouth.
Build Your Reputation
Social media and technology have only increased the importance of word of mouth. If someone has a poor experience with a company, they can spread that negative experience like wildfire at the touch of a button. Emphasizing excellent after-hours customer service can ensure that the word spread about your business is good and contributes to a positive image.
63% of customers say that they fall in love with certain brands because they experienced wonderful service. When these consumers feel passionate about your brand as a result of your customer service, the experience they share with friends and via online outlets helps you build your reputation for the better.
Greater Earning Potential
Not only is the perception of your brand catapulted to new heights via brilliant service, but consumers are also likely to spend more when they have a satisfactory experience. 82% of customers said they will spend more when a brand delivers great online service.
When you invest in providing the care that customers crave and deserve, the return on that investment will likely pay off in reputation and financial influx.
Extended Consumer Reach
Being available to customers beyond your normal business hours creates opportunities to secure business that you may have missed otherwise. With 79% of consumers reporting that they want to receive a fast response to their query, the value of after-hours customer service becomes crystal clear.
You have an opportunity to convert those after-hours consumers into customers, even when your office is closed thanks to around-the-clock service.
Support Team Flexibility
Whether it is work-from-home solutions or outsourcing to third parties, providing after-hours customer care can grant your support team flexibility in terms of work hours and geographic location. This creates new possibilities for valuable members of your team that prefer non-traditional work schedules, can’t come into a physical office every day, or have other unique work-related circumstances.
Many employees appreciate this flexibility, especially in a time when non-traditional work opportunities are thriving. By switching things up and giving your team the chance to work on their terms, you can help them avoid burnout and stay productive.
Because after-hours customer support can be delivered via alternatives to traditional office jobs, it can also aid in reducing the operating costs associated with doing business. It is a win-win-win for your business, employees, and customers.
How to Provide After-Hours Customer Service
The benefits of embracing after-hours customer support as integral to your business structure are numerous and clear. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the effectiveness of after-hours customer care is evident in the numbers.
Realizing your business could benefit from after-hours customer service and implementing it in an actionable, successful manner are two different things, though. Every business is different and determining how to integrate around-the-clock customer care into your business model is best performed on a case-by-case basis.
That being said, there are a handful of universal recommendations to unlocking the full potential of after-hours customer service.
Use AI Chatbots
Leveraging technology to help automate customer service is one of the best ways to offer after-hours customer support without overextending yourself or your team, especially as you work to implement such service on a more comprehensive level. AI chatbots are a prime example of how innovation can automate your ability to help your customers.
Available around the clock, the AI chatbots give consumers instant customer service. The benefits of this technology extend beyond the immediacy of care, too. While there is no question that a human touch is still necessary for complete customer service, AI chatbots are exceptionally useful for those after-hours connections.
81% of consumers think that a proactive chat window is helpful when they are shopping. In addition, 60% of consumers prefer to resolve issues without the assistance of a service representative. You can appeal to both preferences easily and without the necessity of having employees actively engaged by leveraging AI chatbot technology.
Have a Self-Service Knowledge Base
To properly facilitate the self-service that 60% of customers prefer, you will want to establish a self-service portal which can be done by creating a customer service knowledge base. This type of knowledge base software is publically accessible to your customers and typically includes things like:
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- How-to video tutorials
- User manuals and documentation
- Policies related to the products or services you provide
By allowing customers to quickly and easily resolve minor issues and find the information they are searching for, such as shipping updates, you give them the fast resolution that they expect, no matter what time it is.
You also reduce the burden on your employees by giving customers an alternative to human-based customer service. This allows your employees to allocate their time elsewhere, which benefits them and the business as a whole.
Hire More Staff
Offering 24/7 customer support around the clock can increase the strain your current employees feel. Your team may not be able to handle the larger workload, no matter how you adapt operations to the new services you are offering. In situations such as these, you may need to hire more staff to provide your customers with the service they expect.
In addition to lightening the load on your existing employees, you also give your customers a more personalized experience by providing them the opportunity to speak to a customer service representative. The importance of this personal interaction cannot be understated, as 79% of consumers found their online communication with a customer service representative valuable.
To supplement your current customer service team and provide around-the-clock care to consumers, consider business process outsourcing. Be cautious when doing so, though, as 75% of consumers indicate they prefer authenticity over brand messaging. In other words, if you are going to outsource, do your due diligence to ensure those you are onboarding are well-versed in the level of support you aim to provide your customers. Authenticity and quality matter, especially in today’s environment, so do not take outsourcing lightly.
Prioritize Social Media
More than ever, consumers are turning to social media to research businesses and products, network with fellow customers, and seek customer service care. By prioritizing social media, including potentially hiring a social media manager, you can be proactive in addressing any issues, facilitating healthy conversation between customers, and crafting a positive brand image.
75% of consumers state that they find value in interacting with other customers via online communities, while 67% said messaging a brand through their app provides value. Social media is key to maximizing the potential of both of these value-based opportunities, so do not neglect it.
The advantages of after-hours customer service are undeniable for businesses and customers alike. No matter what the size of your company, implementing the resources required to create a streamlined experience for your customers and employees may seem daunting. The reward, however, is well worth the investment.
To simplify the integration of around-the-clock customer support, it is prudent to work with professionals in the industry that have the experience and expertise to not only establish the necessary tools but also give your employees the knowledge they need to perform their new tasks as proficiently as possible.
Helpjuice is a tremendous example of cutting-edge software that can facilitate your transition into the modern age of customer service by seamlessly scaling your support and giving your business the resources it needs to excel. With a suite of easy-to-use features at your fingertips, Helpjuice is the ultimate after-hours customer service solution.