Surprise! Customer Service Doesn’t Need To Be Delightful – Just Effective

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Forrester data shows that valuing a customer's time is the most important factor in good customer service. Customers simply want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Here are the numbers:

  • Consumers have little tolerance for long or difficult service interactions. 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question. In addition, 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service, up 6 points from 2012.
  • Older customers are as intolerant to friction in service interactions as the young.  Impatience is not only a characteristic of the young. Older Boomers are not tolerant to long customer service interactions. Meeting these high expectations for the older generation can pay off. US online seniors may be less likely than their younger counterparts to purchase online, but don't underestimate their online commerce activity: 71% of US online consumers ages 69 and older have made an online retail purchase in the past three months.

But how do you offer effortless customer service? Here are 4 steps to get you on your journey:

  • Guide customers to the paths of lowest effort. Consumers want to use online channels. Yet some communication channels — for example, web self-service and virtual agents — have lower-than-expected satisfaction ratings. This is because companies have not invested in best practices to tame content and deliver simple and intuitive user experiences that facilitate customers in reaching their goal.
  • Architect your infrastructure to support cross-channel communication. Forrester data says that 69% of US online consumers would like to be able to move between customer service channels (e.g., from chat to the telephone) and not have to repeat their situation every time. What you need to do, is make sure that communication channels are not implemented in silos, that the context of an inquiry can be passed from one communication channel to another, and that agents have access to a customer's interaction history across channels.
  • Standardize the service experience across communication channels. Every customer interaction, irrespective of media type, needs to be queued, routed, and managed in the same manner. This requires common underlying workflows, business rules, decision support, as well as measures of success.
  • Empower agents to support customers fully. Agents must be armed with complete and contextual information about customers, including their past purchases and interaction histories. This information must be presented to the agent at the point of time when it is most useful, so as not to overwhelm the agent with information. 

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