21st-century customer interaction is often categorised by being increasingly ‘experience’ focused as market-aware, brand-weary consumers look for easy and efficient responses alongside personalised engagement.
Strong brand statements are no longer enough when communicating with the customer; the entire experience with a brand has to be responsive and perceptibly tailored to their needs.
Customers also now expect their entire journey with a brand to be an integrated one, with their preferred engagement method catered for, whether that is via email, telephone, live web chat, or online sales and support.
Having an impactful and reliable digital offering is key even if it is just a strong content based website and an active presence on social media, but the opportunities for a more developed integrated digital strategy offer businesses a wealth of new ways to engage with and support the customer, encouraging purchase and long-term loyalty.
Digital offerings come in a variety of guises, from comparison site functionality that includes form filling to release a ‘bespoke’ quote to Live Web Chats providing technical support and targeted advertising that responds to consumer activity online.
Highly proactive social media monitoring teams are also deployed by many of the bigger brands to ensure that negative and positive comment are picked up and responded to in virtual real time. All of this activity should form part of a wider business, marketing and sales strategy that looks at the objectives and ambitions of the company as a whole, and how it wants to be perceived by the customer.
Increasingly customer service and support staff are becoming a more integral part of the ‘sell’ to a customer, as their interaction with customers and prospects becomes a bigger part of the customer journey.
However, if a customer has a negative experience at point of purchase, they may not even get to the stage of making a formal complaint to a customer support team, before sharing their dissatisfaction via their own ‘social’ network of influencers. A co-ordinated online marketing campaign can be impacted pretty quickly by negative feedback from ‘live’ customers.
Having access to all communication with the customer and constantly monitoring any engagement is vital when it comes to understanding and managing customer needs and interaction.
CRM and automation
Technology relating to customer engagement has come a long way in the past ten years. Whereas it was once perceived that digital interaction was taking away the more personal side of customer service, the reality in 2015 is that the customer now has access to the most personal type of interaction than ever before.
CRM software and sales automation packages in the past were used to primarily gather and manage data and provide a snapshot view of all customer engagement. New technology now provides access to massive amounts of collected data, and highly targeted analysis tools, along with cloud based and ‘live’ online services that mean interaction can be completely tailored to specific customer needs.
Add to that the ‘social’ conversations via Twitter and Facebook etc. and the ability to offer one-to-one customer relations is vast. Equally if you are not keeping up to date with what is being said about your brand online, you can miss significant opportunities to respond, whether it’s to negative or positive content.
Businesses that seamlessly listen, access customer data and then use that data to offer a completely personalised experience to engage and respond, will continue to be the ones that get it right more often.