Small businesses often rely on excellent customer service as a way to stand out from their larger competitors — after all, excellent service can be a great way to overcome any disadvantages you might have in competing against a bigger company with deeper pockets.
But small businesses can gain even greater advantages in this area by using data analytics tools. New tools can help businesses of any size gather and analyze their data to make improvements, as well as facilitate communication with customers.
Here are three ways that data analysis tools can help you create a customer service strategy that delivers powerful results.
Manage Customer Inquiries From Multiple Channels
When you have customer service inquiries come in across multiple channels like phone, email, chat and social media, tools like Freshdesk, LiveAgent and Desk.com can monitor these sources. If a customer tries to contact your business on social media and then sends an email moments later in hopes of an instant response, for example, products like these allow you to see both instances in one place, so you can respond immediately.
In some cases you can also prioritize issues and automatically assign tickets, so customer issues are handled by the correct people in your business. Some services offer extras, too: For example, Freshdesk's self-service plug-in for your website allows customers to find answers to commonly asked questions. This feature also connects your customers with one another, so they can form a community that shares knowledge and reduces the amount of incoming service issues that your business must address.
Make Sense of Your Data
Technology has made it easier for small-business owners to collect data from all the systems they use to run their businesses, such as accounting software, web metrics or payment-processing tools. But that leads to a lot of data — too much, in many cases, to easily analyze.
Tools like Grow, QlikView and Tableau can integrate information from a variety of tech tools. Do you sell items across eBay, Etsy and Amazon? Market on Facebook and Instagram? Tools like these can let you view data related to a variety of facets of your business in a single dashboard. Many options allow you to explore data on things like cart abandonment rates, returns, and delivery timelines, so you can analyze how to improve your customer service.
Offer "Always-On" Customer Service
Your small business may not have the resources to offer 24/7 service, but tools like ZenDesk, ClickDesk and Groove might be able to help you expand customer services efforts. They offer things like instant online chat through your website, social media integration, and tools that help you track, prioritize and resolve customer issues.
Customer service takes work, but data analytics tools can help you improve your efforts, often in less time. Once you've identified an application that matches your needs, ask around to see if any of your peers have used the service, or give it a free trial to test its features.