White glove service refers to high-quality care and a concentrated focus on the needs of your shoppers. The phrase “white-glove service” conjures images of Downton Abbey, scenes from Titanic, and visuals from other movies where butlers and house staff don pristine white gloves to ensure a meal or experience is exceptional. In the modern era, white-glove service means going above what your customers expect. It means genuinely putting them at the highest priority to meet their needs. You don’t need a large budget or substantial customer service team to offer this service—you just have to know what your customers want. Track (and Improve) Your Response Times One of the most tangible ways to provide white-glove service is to respond to customers quickly. The sooner you can address their needs, the better their experience will likely be. According to a SuperOffice survey of 1,000 companies, it takes an average of 12 hours to respond to a customer email. However, when 3,200 customers were asked how quickly they expect a response from brands, 88% said within 1 hour, and 30% expect a response within 15 minutes or less. Asking a customer to wait 12 hours is 11 hours too long and means you will start off your conversation with a poor experience. Try to update your customer service policies to respond to customers quickly. This process could mean sending a confirmation email that you received a query so your customers don’t think their messages are stuck in the ether. It could mean investing in a 3rd-party customer care service so you can help customers faster. Your business doesn’t necessarily need to be on-call with 24/7 service, but you can set a goal for 2021 to significantly improve your call and email response times. Avoid Canned Responses A common mistake that brands make when setting up their customer service programs is the creation of canned responses for various situations. These pre-written scripts are meant to make training new team members easier while creating a unified tone and response front across the company. Executives never have to worry that customer care team members will say something inappropriate as long as they keep up with the script. However, these canned responses can infuriate customers who feel like they are speaking with a robot. Placations, canned apologies, and strict customer service processes can frustrate customers before their problem ever gets addressed, leaving them with shorter tempers and a bad experience with the company. Plus, canned responses can wear out your representatives, who can start to mumble through the same phrases each day. Instead, develop a customer care process focused on listening and active problem-solving. Train your team members on tone and branding, rather than asking them to read directly from a script. This will make their conversations more engaging, and they’ll create personal connections with customers, driving better results. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some responses written down for new team members or for when your staff needs help, but try to avoid forcing your employees to always “stick to the script.” Balance Automated Prompts With Human Conversation Along with canned responses, talking with automated systems and chipper chatbots can also leave your customers frustrated and feeling neglected. Automated prompts are meant to make the customer service process easier. They sort customer problems into different categories and help teams identify certain customers. However, endlessly listening to menus and pressing different buttons can grow weary, as each answer prompts a new question and fresh menu. “Sometimes it’s super frustrating because you enter in a bunch of information in there, only to have to repeat it again,” Janelle Matthews, senior vice president of Solution Strategy at Genesys, tells Marketplace. “It drives me crazy. So painful and it doesn’t have to happen.” The customer already told the system what is wrong—they don’t want to go over the issue again with a customer service person. Plus, many people will click through a menu without thinking or just say “representative” until they can speak to a real person about the issue. This automated process gets more complex with certain industries, including insurance firms or credit card providers. Oftentimes, customer teams will have to confirm the digitally-entered information for security purposes or will lose the information due to a computer glitch and will have to ask for it again. In the same way that not all canned responses are bad, there is a time and place for automated prompts in customer service. However, they need to be used in moderation, and the answers need to provide value to your customer care team. Look Into Tools to Easily Pull Up Customer Order History When a customer needs help with an order, they don’t want to spend several minutes explaining to your team what the problem is and hunting down confirmation numbers. This process is frustrating to them and can create confusion with your team members. Instead, look into tools and apps that can highlight the customer problem before they even speak to your customer service representatives. According to the 2017 Global State of Customer Service Survey by Microsoft, 66% of Americans expect a brand representative to know their contact information and product or service information and history. This number is slightly lower than the global average of 72% of respondents, including 77% of consumers ages 18–34. How can having this information help you offer white-glove service? There are several ways. \tIf you get disconnected from the customer, you can call them back instead of sending them through your service system again. \tYour representatives can quickly report on the status of an order and make adjustments as needed. \tYou can use their previous buying history to recommend products or offer discounts on items your customers might find valuable. Multiple customer service apps on the market can pull up buyer history based on their email address, name, or phone number. Look into these tools if calls to your customer care team are increasing. Listen to Customer Service Complaints If you want to improve your customer service experience, then start with your customers. Learn what they consider a weakness in your company and take steps to improve it. For example, if your customers aren’t happy with your slow response times, identify ways you can address problems faster. If your phone system is too robotic, look for ways to make it more personable. These changes will make your improvements more effective as you directly address your customer needs and deliver a white-glove service that will separate you from your competition.