Digital channels have become more pervasive for personal communications. Businesses realise they can use them in different ways to influence buyer behaviour, and marketing departments have slowly begun to add digital platforms to their technology stacks. But with so many choices, the power has shifted to the customer, allowing them to control how, when, and where they want to interact with you.
Look at how many ways younger generations communicate with friends, family and colleagues. Why should it be any different for the companies and brands they engage with? The fact is, younger generations refuse to change the way they interact, to fit the mould of the past.
If we look at the evolution of customer service from the sixties to today, initially the only way a customer could contact a company was in person or by phone (depending on business hours).
Then, the birth of the Internet gave rise to new communication channels in the 90s – email and live chat. Still, businesses had to rely heavily on IT teams to configure proper routing by channel and set SLAs to appease customers. This was frustrating for customers but was the only way to ensure requests didn’t get lost in the flurry of inbound communications.
The plethora of digital channels available today means that the customer chooses when and crucially how they interact with your brand.
To compound the problem further, as innovations in communications continue to advance, customer patience is dwindling. Hardly surprising, when at the click of a button, you can have an item in your hands in hours or even minutes.
We live in a culture of instant gratification, where customers demand highly responsive service requiring minimal effort on their part. When a bad experience will cost you almost one in three consumers (32%), customer service basics are non-negotiable. Today’s customer doesn’t have time to sit in a queue or explain to multiple agents who they are. They want to complete their transaction on the go, promptly, and simply. You have to be obsessed about making sure they can reach you when and how they want.
So, with that picture firmly in our minds, what do you need to do to be obsessed about customer service in the digital age, capture and retain customer loyalty?
Provide personalized, seamless customer service.
One of the benefits of technology is the amount of data we can collect and analyse. Large amounts of transactional, conversational, and personal data are likely generated within your business applications.
By categorising data, such as buying patterns, support issues, languages, channels etc., you can build a 360-degree view of your customers and their behaviour. This can be used to deliver an experience that will resonate with the customer, and they can build a stronger connection with your brand.
Respond to customers on social, messaging, and review sites.
Whether interacting with customers or tuning into conversations about your brand, your business needs to be available everywhere your customers spend time, which could mean a much wider portfolio of digital channels than you might expect. Digital channels uniquely make it easy for customers to connect with your business.
Using asynchronous apps, customers gain the freedom to start—and even temporarily walk away from—a conversation, while soliciting an immediate response. By delivering an experience that caters to customer preferences, not only do you build loyalty, you may even gain an advocate.
Deploy the right technology with self-service solutions.
The last thing any consumer wants is to spend time waiting to resolve a complaint when they could just find a new brand to buy a similar product from. Plus, as a business, you don’t want to get bogged down with low-level support tasks. Good digital channel management can fix both these problems.
Consumers generally expect fast response times from companies, but expectations do vary by channel. Provide customers with a knowledge base of common questions and problems, and use chatbots to free up your agents from mundane tasks so they can focus on higher-level customer support.
Make life easier for agents and customers
It is critical to make sure you are accessible on all key digital channels used by customers. However, you also need to use technology to empower agents to manage those channels efficiently. Examples of how this might be achieved are:
Route messages to the right team to avoid redirects
Provide agents with templates so they spend less time writing emails
Have a single platform to manage all digital channels
With so many choices, power over customer service engagement has shifted into the hands of the customer. However, with the right tools and approach to the changing digital environment, businesses will retain and win new customer loyalty. From the earliest days of commerce, good customer service has been a central pillar of success – the channels may have changed but the premise is as true as ever.
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