Customer Service: The Next Big Compliance Tool For Cryptocurrency

June 18, 2018
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Whether bitcoin is up or down when you’re reading this, the cryptocurrency industry is still growing rapidly (and fast approaching an estimated $1 trillion evaluation this year). But as startups in the cryptocurrency space continue to bloom, attention from regulators is on the rise, and most of that awareness can be traced to one thing: consumer complaints.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase received more than 300 customer complaints in 2017. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (AACC) reported an even greater number of crypto-related complaints during the same period. The organization revealed that over 1,200 Australian citizens complained about bitcoin scams.

The number of complaints has prompted government officials to tighten regulations in the cryptocurrency industry. Tighter regulations mean two things for the industry, and number two is something we’ve been saying for months:

  • Staying compliant becomes more challenging for companies that work with cryptocurrency.
  • Customer service becomes an essential compliance tool in the cryptocurrency industry.

Existing Regulations Already Make This Difficult

Today’s regulations on cryptocurrency operations make developing consumer-friendly customer service strategies tough enough already. Take Coinbase, for example. Of the 300 complaints it received in 2017, several raised concerns about lengthy verification and transaction processes.

But here’s the kicker:

These processes are often lengthy due to consumer protection laws already implemented by lawmakers. Coinbase even lists some of these regulations on its website.

Such regulations can also affect the value of cryptocurrency. These fluctuations in value affect customer satisfaction. For instance, the rate of bitcoin to U.S. dollar plummeted in early 2018 after the South Korean government limited foreign access to its crypto exchanges.

Large decreases in the value of cryptocurrency in cases such as this one lead to customer complaints. Cryptocurrency businesses don’t set the value of the currency, but these negative reviews still damage their reputation and draw regulator attention.

Right about now you might be asking what improvements businesses can make to their customer service strategies to avoid scrutiny from regulators!

How Can Cryptocurrency Companies Improve Their Customer Service?

Cryptocurrency businesses can still take steps to enhance their customer service strategies despite these challenges. Two of the most actionable steps they can take are:

1. Setting Up A Complaint Hotline

Some of the complaints the CFPB received about Coinbase in 2017 cited a lack of open lines of communication as an issue. Consumers who complained about lengthy verification processes became even more upset after the company failed to respond to their complaints (to Coinbase’s credit, it has been open about its customer service challenges and transparently pursuing solutions, including a support hotline).

Such poor customer service brings about new regulations and costs businesses billions of dollars every year.

You need to give your customers a way to reach you and have their concerns heard. You don’t need to invest in a major call center — setting up a simple complaint hotline is a cost-effective solution to this problem. If you’re a bigger business, automation has lowered the cost of operating call centers in recent years, and outsourcing your customer complaints is more affordable than ever.

And that’s not all.

Businesses can also set up other cost-effective lines of communication to address consumer complaints. These additional means of communication include:

  • Live Chat
  • Chatbots
  • Email
  • Social Media Platforms
  • Profiles on Review Sites (e.g. Yelp, Google My Business, etc.)

Chatbots can be especially useful to small crypto businesses. Some chatbots have become sophisticated enough to interact with consumers via online chat platforms and over the phone.

2. Track Your Customer Interactions

Companies that work with cryptocurrency should also devise methods of keeping track of customer interactions. These methods of tracking interactions don’t have to be difficult or expensive.

In fact, you already have access to free or inexpensive software which allows for adequate record-keeping. You can use something as simple (and free) as a Google spreadsheet. If your cryptocurrency company has an in-house database, you also have the option of using this database to keep track of customer interactions.

Tracking and recording these interactions will help:

Prevent Federal Intervention

More than a third of customers who complained about Coinbase in 2017 did so because they could not access their money at the agreed-upon time. Coinbase could have assuaged some of these customer fears had they responded to and tracked customer complaints.

The company instead chose not to address these grievances. The number of upset customers led regulators to intervene by tightening existing regulations across the industry.

The lack of customer service also reflected poorly on Coinbase. Major publications such as Bloomberg and CNBC singled out the company for its large number of complaints. This negative publicity encouraged regulators to further scrutinize Coinbase’s standard operating procedures.

Here’s the truth:

If the company had acknowledged and tracked customer interactions, some of the complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would not have existed. Coinbase could have mollified consumers by engaging with them and keeping them up-to-date on the status of their transactions.

That’s not all…

It’ll Help You Understand Your Customers

We can’t emphasize this enough:

Your customers’ complaints tell you what they value. This information is powerful when businesses know how to collect it and what to do with it.

Let’s say that a customer leaves a bad review on one of your social media pages. You then respond to this review and begin tracking the interactions, inviting the consumer to further engage with you. You ultimately exchange several messages until you finally provide a solution.

You learn several things while tracking these interactions:

  • How receptive the consumer is to your customer service strategy
  • What the customer’s expectations are for a business in your niche
  • What overall effect the upsetting incident had on the customer’s perception of your business

You should use this knowledge to optimize your sales funnel and your marketing tactics. Optimized marketing strategies address customer pain points and generate fewer complaints.

Bottom Line: Develop A Customer Service Focus

At the root of all regulation is the protection of the consumer, and lawmakers will continue to impose stricter regulations on crypto businesses if companies don’t make customer service a top priority. The added regulations will no doubt make adhering to compliance policies more challenging for regulated cryptocurrency companies.

Cryptocurrency companies can stay these regulators’ hands by making efforts to address customers’ concerns. Setting up complaint hotlines and keeping track of customer interactions are reasonable, actionable steps businesses can take today to appease disgruntled customers.

So what challenges to perfecting your customer service strategy are you currently facing? Start a conversation with us

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