Companies today are on the hunt for as much information about their customers as they can collect. That information provides insight that can be used to improve products and services and cross-sell other products and services to their customer base. It also helps them understand what is popular with certain customer segments and how to better attract new customers based on this information.
The types of information collected can vary. Most companies are able to tie the items back to the individual or business purchasing, except in cases of anonymous retail transactions (that are becoming less common as more stores offer loyalty programs associating purchases with the buyer). Companies may collect additional information on customers by encouraging their customers to build profiles as part of loyalty programs, to simplify online purchases, or through warranty registrations. This all helps fuel the ability to know the customer better in the hopes of maintaining ongoing loyalty.
While this benefits marketing and sales efforts, companies often fail to take advantage of this collected information to benefit the customer in a time of need–yet that doesn’t need to be the case! While customer service might be aware of the products and services the customer owns with visibility into past orders, oftentimes these details aren’t being used to simplify and speed assistance online. Consider these examples of how that collected data can personalize customer service and assist the customer in finding a solution sooner:
- Simplifying data entry – before initiating a chat with a customer service agent or chatbot or to create a case, it’s common to collect some information upfront. In both of these examples, a necessary piece of information is the product or service the customer is struggling with. When prompting customers with questions where a possible answer is already known, pre-populate the answer with that detail while still allowing the customer to select another answer.
- Queuing and routing – if a customer is attempting to contact a company by telephone or chat, it’s a good assumption their issue is with a product or service they have purchased. Don’t rule out their question or issue might be with something else but make sure any choices affecting queuing and routing take what’s known about the customer into account to simplify navigation.
- Searching – searching for an answer in a knowledge base or an online community can quickly become frustrating when a company offers many products and services–the list of results returned quickly becomes unmanageable. As with queuing and routing, preset list filters to display solutions only for the products and services owned but allow them to expand and contract the list as needed.
- Suggestions and common solutions – it’s a common practice for customer service websites to indicate trending or highly-used solutions. The problem is these are typically across all products and services, distracting and potentially confusing to customers who do not own the product or service. As with searching, start by limiting the content to fit the customer and allow them to modify as needed.
- Proactive service – this is different than the prior suggestions that help simplify the customer’s service journey. Notifying a customer of a problem they might encounter with a product or service they own and its solution before they experience it can have a substantial impact on customer service in two ways. First, it’s a delightful surprise to customers because it helps them avoid a problem and demonstrates a company’s commitment to helping ensure the best possible experience for its customers. Second, it means a contact center can reduce and even avoid calls, emails, and chats related to the issue.
When customers have problems, it costs them time: time in lost product or service use and time lost in seeking a solution. As the use of online customer self-service continues to grow, 73% percent of customers say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do.
The pieces are all there for companies to close that time gap and demonstrate how they value their customers’ time. By simply taking advantage of the customer information they already possess, they can personalize service for their customers and deliver proactive service, helping customers solve problems faster (and even avoid them). And that faster path to a solution not only reduces frustration but has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.