August 10, 2015 By Daniel L. Newman

It’s 5:30 p.m. and the executive assistant to the VP of sales is getting ready to head home. He checks tomorrow’s calendar and notices an early-morning video conference call. Trying to be proactive, he heads into the meeting room and runs a quick test only to find out that the conferencing system isn’t functioning properly. Uh-oh!

He knows it’s late in the day, but he hustles to his desk, picks up the phone, and calls the AV service provider. He gets voicemail. Darn! He knows this isn’t good; tomorrow morning’s meeting is going to come fast, and he has no idea how to reach someone for help. Will someone respond to an email after hours? Perhaps a tweet for help can take place? Is there an emergency pager or number he can call for help?

We’re seeing new levels of customer experiences being sought out—and they’re being met by some brave companies. More than 67% of people expect same-day response to a digital complaint, companies are seeing the importance of and the value in finding new ways for customers to connect.

Business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. simply aren’t good enough. We need to provide more “lanes,” and more ways for customers to reach us—and then we need to listen and respond.

More hours and more responsiveness costs money, but the savings in time may be far outweighed by customer attrition. Here are a few things I recommend if you want to offer a better customer experience without breaking the bank.

1. Open new lanes of communication and listen. Your customers are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp and many other social and consumer sites. Having a social presence not only makes you look good, but also makes you up-to-date; however, merely having a presence isn’t enough.

You need to be sure to listen and respond. People may be more despondent about a company that has a social presence and doesn’t respond than a company that doesn’t have a presence at all.

2. Have tech support on call 24/7. Manning a help desk may not be possible, but having a short response method of returning emergency calls is something that can be done and doesn’t have to break the bank. There is a good chance that a fix may be simple: A reset or a control system reroute may do the trick. But if there is no one to call and no help to be had, then the issue won’t be resolved and the customer will be putting a black mark next to your name.

3. Think on demand. Some simple fixes, as well as tips and tricks for using systems, can easily be captured and recorded, and then placed on YouTube. This costs almost nothing, but a handful of these videos may give clients ideas for fixing the problem themselves.

If the video conferencing system isn’t firing up, for example, are there two or three things the client can try on their own first to get things working? Demonstration videos like these may save the day, and they take only a few minutes to create and upload.

4. Build a response strategy and empower your team. Once you have these “lanes” set up and are listening, you need to have a response plan. What will you do when someone reaches out on Twitter at 8 p.m.? Just like with on-call technical support, there are methods for on-demand and overnight support of social and digital accounts.

Even if the person responding can only guide them to FAQs or escalate them to the on-call technician, a quick response will go a long way toward earning a vote of confidence from the customer.

Lousy service and slow response times simply won’t cut the mustard. There are many ways for clients to reach customers; when they have an emergency (even at their own fault), the integrators that have the best systems in place to keep customers up and running are going to be the ones that keep their customers and earn that coveted word-of-mouth.