Fortune 500 companies are the most celebrated and valued and every company worth its salt wants to emulate them. The success of fortune 500 companies cannot be attributed to one single factor. However, their customer-centric approach and customer-focused strategies certainly contribute immensely to their success. Most successful businesses are known for their exceptional customer service delivered by highly professional and committed customer service team who is at customer’s disposal 24×7.
Focus on availability and response speed
Fortune 500 companies don’t perceive customer support as a 9-5 department. They strongly believe in being available for the customers whenever they need them, wherever they need them. Hence, their customer support service is omnichannel. They can be contacted through any channel- phone, e-mail, live chat, messenger or even social media channels. Irrespective of the medium customer chooses to contact, they get a uniform quality response, which is fast and professional.
This is a virtue worth emulating but it may not be viable to do this in-house. You may want to consider outsourcing some of your customer service-related functions to professional 24×7 call center outsourcing companies. Moreover, you should also use multiple social media channels to create various touchpoints for your customers, so that they can contact you 24×7 through their preferred medium.
Such measures create loyalty among customers that in turn affects companies’ bottom-line. A robust customer service strategy is essential as it takes time to build a successful brand but just one bad customer experience has the potential to make a huge dent in a company’s reputation.
How Apple achieved it
Apple’s achievement in customer support is path-breaking. Apple enjoys a huge cult-like fan base and that’s because they make their customers feel like celebrities. Customers feel they are looked after in the best possible manner and are even prepared to wait for days to lay their hands on these beautiful products.
Apple’s employees, right from their top management, to sales to their customer support team, display a strong passion for their products. Apple is very selective about who they hire in their customer service department. They recruit high-quality customer service agents who understand their products well to ensure that their customers always get an exceptional service experience delivered by the product experts. Talking to their customer support doesn’t feel like you are talking to an average customer support agent. Customers feel they are talking to genuine tech enthusiasts who put their whole heart and soul in troubleshooting their problems and sharing their product knowledge with customers.
Apple also maintains a dedicated customer service page on its website where customers get a variety of information related to their products and services. Additionally, customers can also schedule repairs, check warranty status and look up repair status.
Apple summarizes it’s the philosophy in five sentences:
A – Approach customers with a warm welcome
P – Probe politely to understand customer’s needs
P – Present a solution for the customer
L – Listen attentively to resolve customers’ issues.
E – End with a warm farewell with an invitation to return
Apple’s stores have these ‘Genius Bars’, which are essentially an innovative way to offer customer service in stores. This is a platform that enables customers to interact with ‘geniuses’ who have extensive knowledge about Apple products and get assistance with their technical problems.
Apple enables its users to get in touch with them through various channels like telephone, e-mails, or live chat. This makes customers feel empowered and in control as they get to choose how and when to contact. Irrespective of how customers contact, Apple makes sure that they handle all such queries with utmost sincerity and warmth.
The popularity of Apple can be gauged by the fact that when Apple launched its twitter account for the customer and technical support, within a period of 24 hours more than 100,000 accounts followed it.
Apple’s customer support team does not only answer the questions that come their way but also offers useful tips and encourages customers to raise queries.
Apple believes in absolute transparency and asks its users to send a direct message. The idea behind using a public platform is to educate other Apple users about how to sort out similar issues.
The user-friendly attitude of the company is exhibited in the way they treat their twitter handle. This medium is used for Apple customers who put their queries as despite having 615,000 followers, Apple never posted a tweet.
What Microsoft did
Microsoft, the most iconic IT company has a pervasive presence on the social media that includes Twitter, with an account assigned for every conceivable topic such as security, development, updates, events, opportunities, and last but not the least customer service too.
This approach gives a huge edge to Microsoft as customers can engage and interact with every aspect of the brand and get their questions answered by the relevant team on a convenient platform.
Microsoft’s each Twitter channel has a unique purpose. Though Microsoft’s Twitter channels are primarily focused on news and related articles, the official channel ensures that the brand continuously engages with customers in an organic and informal manner taking queries and proactively offering help.
Another important feature in Microsoft’s customer service is chatbots that complement live agents by engaging productively with the customers waiting in queues. Bots are AI tools that make them much faster than human agents in scanning huge data and retrieving relevant information. This hugely impacts their customer service in tackling customers’ complaints and offering solutions fast.
Leveraging Social Media
Fortune 500 companies have very effectively used social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram not only to increase their brand visibility but also to bridge the gap between the brand and the customers and win over their trust. It is evident by the fact that the number of Fortune 500 companies with active Twitter accounts went up from 62% in 2011 to 86% in 2011. At least 84% of Fortune 500 companies have active Facebook accounts.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon once said “A customer service is the best where a customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk you. It just goes like this.” This summarizes the approach of Amazon, the e-commerce company that revolutionized the online purchase.
Amazon’s approach that ‘the customer is always right’ and ‘no questions asked’ policy instead of playing the blame game with the customers induces confidence in customers and earns them their lifetime loyalty.
Amazon’s reach is unbelievable as they can deliver their consignments anywhere and everywhere, sometimes in as less as a couple of hours. It has a huge presence across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which makes it easier for customers to get in touch with the company.
Amazon pampers its customers who feel valued and are incentivized to make their bond with the company stronger. Their customer service agents always use a very friendly and cordial tone with customers that make the conversation very interactive.
Amazon has also introduced a call back facility on its website where customers can leave their contact numbers thus reducing their wait-time drastically. It is no wonder that Amazon
Consolidated Call Center Operations
With the advent of technology, companies shifted their operations to geographically diverse call center outsourcing locations that enabled them to take advantage of cheaper and skilled labor.
Of late, Fortune 500 companies have shifted back the focus on consolidating their entire call center outsourcing operations into larger call centers instead of spreading themselves too thin globally. These are huge facilities with a large number of agents working in tandem to deliver international standard customer service through help desk, technical support, common services and a slew of other customer-centric functions. This helps in enhancing the overall quality of customer service.
Although many Fortune 500, companies such as Siemens and IBM have their in-house call centers, others prefer to use customer service outsourcing companies. These companies recognize the benefit of letting third party customer service outsourcing companies take charge of their customer support. It gives them an edge over their competitors and helps them in customer retention. Now, call center outsourcing has become a quintessential feature of Fortune 500 companies as it allows them to focus their resources, energy and time on core functions such as business development on their core business.
Customer service outsourcing is a very cost-effective option that can significantly reduce expenses per head and hence is preferred by big and small companies alike. At the same time, this strategy provides flexibility to meet the specific requirements of your customers. A customer service outsourcing company can scale up or scale down the number of customer service agents as per your company’s dynamic requirements.
India remains the leading destination for offshore call center outsourcing companies. Besides India, the other popular options are China, the Philippines, and Poland. In the last ten years, Romania, Mexico, and Brazil have also drawn attention to customer service outsourcing opportunities.
To get the benefit of this huge cost difference, many Fortune 500 companies like British Airways, American Express, GE, HSBC, Citibank, and AT& T, execute their back-office operations in India. A call center outsourcing agent in India costs at least 80% less than its counterpart in the US or UK. By outsourcing their call center operations to India, GE now saves $275 million every year. American Express also followed the suit and partnered with Infosys, and TCS in India. Philippines and China are other important locations for customer service outsourcing.
Customer support function in a company can no longer be relegated to backseat as shown by these Fortune 500 companies. These companies have set the bar high for customer expectations. Irrespective of your industry and size, customers will invariably compare you with the customer experience provided by these fortune 500 companies who are famous for their customer centricity and there is little you can do to avoid that comparison.
At LiveSalesman, we have handled customer support for many Fortune 500 companies. We will gladly share with you the best practices that we have observed, developed and implemented for these leading clients over the years. Speak with us today to learn how we can help you offer the same customer experience as they do.