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Time is our everything. But for entrepreneurs, time is the most valuable commodity, ever. Business time isn’t measured in business hours but in the extent to which you make customers feel heard, even in after-hours. Whether you’re an online business owner or a brick and mortar store down the street, after-hours customer support is the lifeline that keeps your customer experience going 24/7.
35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first, research shows. For an online business, response time can make all the difference since your customers aren’t limited to one time-zone. After-hours customer support becomes a vital necessity since web/mobile visitors will rate customer experience based on response time, not a physical location.
Fortunately, with modern digital advancements, your business can continue to gain leads and customers even while you sleep. Here are the 5 must-have tools for after-hours customer support that are as budget-friendly as they are promising for business growth.
With Millenials and Gen Z making up a huge portion of the online business economy, their communication tool of choice — instant messaging, is becoming the go-to mode of business communication. Unlike its older siblings — SMS and texting, business messaging apps like WhatsApp Business, FB, and Instagram provide seamless customer experience even during after-hours. The reason is simple — unlike computers, these apps are always in our pockets, and it takes only a minute to answer.
For online business: Up to 70% of web traffic happens on mobile devices. As an online business, makes sure to place messaging icons upfront on your mobile site (not hidden in the nether regions of the page) and keep them clearly visible on key pages. This will spare users the annoyance of searching for contact info. Keep in mind that every second of their hesitation exponentially heightens your chance of losing a client.
For brick and mortar business: By actively promoting your Google my Business and social media presence (WhatsApp Business, FB pages, Instagram DM) you won’t just stand out among neighboring shops — you’ll win over new clients. A good option is to spread the word about your online presence via creative stickers/posters inside the store. You may even designate a hashtag campaign and special “selfie spot” inside your cafe, flower shop, clothing store, etc. Because yes, social media isn’t just fast customer support — it’s free advertising.
Tips and tricks: Use autoresponders to automate after-hours communication — but always do this tastefully. Never bombard your customers with auto-responses as a way to save time on personal communication. Use an autoresponder tool only to send an introductory automated message. In this message, warmly thank the person for contacting you and let them know a time-frame when they can expect to hear from you. This will come in handy during after-hours. But always remember to answer all your customer inquiries scrupulously in person.
Find out more about using WhatsApp Business with your business phone number.
How much does it cost? From $0/month
An action as simple as consistently picking up the phone can grow revenue by up to 54%, studies show. Even so, for most business owners, the day is so full of tasks that many leads end up lost — not due to thoughtlessness, but simply because of missing automation.
This is exactly where a VoIP phone system like MightyCall can save the day. Just like cloud messengers make your business chat mobile, fast, and customer friendly from any place, VoIP (which is another word for cloud telephony) does the same for your voice communication. VoIP is one of the most reliable business phone solutions and an alternative to costly and outdated landlines.
For online business: You can’t stay up all night to offer live support to online customers in different time zones. But a virtual phone system can automatically route after-hours calls to a different person or device. When you have two or more employees working from different time-zones, utilize this to distribute communication responsibilities between people depending on shifts. Alternatively, if you’re a solopreneur, check out the local store strategy described below.
For brick and mortar business: After-hours call routing is as handy for local stores as for e-commerce. Instead of routing calls to different employees, however, local retailers (or solopreneurs) may route them to a voice menu, custom voicemail, or an auto-attendant with pre-recorded information. For example, record essential info like store hours, location, and directions so customers don’t have to trouble you for those basics (use this during working hours as well as part of the voice menu). Customers won’t fail to appreciate the extra care and trustworthy vibes projected by your business.
Tips and tricks: MightyCall’s virtual phone system comes with Business Contact Book and mini-CRM. This feature lets you share a common business contact book with your whole team, sync it across all employee devices, and take notes on various customer calls to help any employee follow-up later. It also lets you save on CRM contact management since you can do that right in your business phone system (both the mobile app and web dashboard).
How much does it cost? MightyCall has three plans for businesses of all sizes, starting at $19.99/month. All plans are priced for unlimited users, are loaded with communication features, and come with a free 7-day trial.
Many entrepreneurs still consider chatbots kind of artificial and inhuman. Facts prove otherwise. Customer support chatbots have an over 75% satisfaction rate among consumers and reduce business costs by 80%, studies show. Chatbots literally never sleep which makes them the perfect assistant for anyone looking into your product/service after-hours. And sometimes, those chatbots do their job so well, users don’t even know they’re talking to a bot!
For online business: An online business can use chatbots to streamline many processes such as: automate general customer questions; instantly respond to online shopping queries; achieve 100% response rates; increase return on ad spending. Today, any small business can build a chatbot without help from IT personnel, load it with the right information, and connect it to one or several channels (web, social media).
For brick and mortar business: Does your local store have a social media or web presence? If repeated FAQ-type messages about business hours and location are starting to bore you, get yourself a helper in the face of a FB messenger chatbot like Chatfuel. This will make your day more productive and your customer support up and running 24/7.
Tips and tricks: Start with automating your messaging on a single channel. This can be your website or a popular messaging platform like Facebook Messenger. Try the budget-friendly Chatfuel for Facebook Messenger or a multi-platform service like Botsify for comprehensive web, Facebook, and Slack messaging.
How much does it cost? Chatfuel for Facebook Messenger has three plans: Free ($0), Pro (15/month) and Premium (on request). Botsify starts at $50/month.
While written information isn’t as necessary to customer service as messaging, email, and voice communication, the more time site visitors spend on your site, the more interest they show in your product. As a result, blog and FAQ sections are great and free ways to convert your leads into clients 24/7.
For online business: Create consistent blog content that’s relevant for your industry. Also, even if you have a blog, don’t forget about the FAQ section. First-time site visitors will have plenty of questions related to your service and it’s essential to not let them “off the hook”. If they don’t find general answers on your website, they won’t bother asking via messengers or phone– those are the channels used by customers who know what they want and understand what you’re offering.
Tips and tricks: A useful FAQ section includes both the questions and unsung doubts a first-time visitor will have about your product/service. As an example, take a look at the FAQ section of Online Book Club. Understanding the fact that many freelancers are tricked into paying for scam services, the owner isn’t afraid to tackle uncomfortable questions like: “Is OnlineBookClub.org Legit?”’ with a comprehensive (and fun) response appropriate for the occasion. While this may not be necessary for your industry, being transparent with doubts your first-time visitors may be pondering (but not voicing) is usually a good idea.
How much does it cost? From $0/month
Callback request buttons are call buttons to place on your web page. In contrast to instant calling buttons where a user presses it and dials the (usually toll-free) number, callback request buttons allow site visitors to have the business call them back 1) instantly or 2) on a set schedule. This is a very handy feature for after-hours since users can order a callback for a specific day/time.
For online business: To install a callback widget, you need no coding knowledge. Just copy and paste the provided bit of code onto your site (in the Text editor). Place this code anywhere on your website. We suggest a clearly visible spot at the top or side of your webpage. Also, make sure the button stands out loud and clear in the mobile version of your site.
Tips and tricks: Find out more about using call widgets for customer support. A simple installation guide is provided.
How much does it cost? $0/mo with MightyCall’s virtual phone system for business
Managing a business is like playing a game of musical chairs: the client goes to the business that shows up first. The only way to guarantee yourself a place is by nurturing leads 24/7 and automating various channels such as web, phone, social media, and e-mail. This way your business, like NYC, just never sleeps.
Find out more about essential customer relationship strategies in 2020: 2020 Customer Experience Trends Your Clients Are Wishing For Today