We’re in the ‘experience era’ of marketing. The traditional four Ps (Price, Product, Place, and Promotion) just don’t cut it anymore when it comes to attracting and keeping customers.
Customers are empowered by contemporary technology, and they can compare offers, products, delivery options and costs in a click. They won’t stay loyal if they can get a better deal elsewhere, and the highly competitive market for these criteria is inhospitable to profit margins.
It’s not just consumer habits that are changing. 2018 ushers in AI-powered assistance and engagement, creating customer experiences that are slicker than ever before possible. Customers now expect an effortless experience – and they know you have the technology to provide it. So, to help you prepare for the experience battle ahead, here are some defining customer service stats for 2018.
Customers who had an unpleasant experience on your website are 88% less likely to return
In 2018, websites need to be just as well-organised, just as navigable and just as visually enticing as physical stores. Your website is your digital showroom, and you need to treat it as such. That doesn’t just mean adding shiny bells and whistles to your site. You also need to focus on replicating the stellar service you’d offer in your physical showroom.
After all, you can’t afford not to. The vast majority of consumers are intolerant when it comes to poor online experiences, and with one quick click of an ‘x’ button they’ll have walked away from your website forever.
So, if you want repeat traffic and return custom, you need to optimise your website for service. You’ll help customers no end just by having clean web design coupled with clear navigation. But that’s no longer enough in the smart age, and you should also consider manning your website with agents and/or chatbots.
Live chat software has quickly become a necessity for quality customer service, with 52% of consumers more likely to repurchase from a company who offer live chat support. And, with 67% of people now expecting to see or use messaging apps when talking to a business, it makes sense to consider deploying a chatbot for those out of office hours.
75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with your brand
By now, most businesses know that they need an omnichannel strategy in their approach to customer service. But many still fail when it comes to consistency.
To paraphrase Mark Wheatley in The Conversation Engine, your brand is immersive, and covers everything from product to design to communication with customers. A customer should be able to recognise that they’re dealing with your brand whether they send you a tweet, listen to a hold message, view your product, check out your blog or flick through a brochure.
When done right, this becomes virtually subconscious; the customer can identify your company’s voice and visuals without having to think about it. This is easier said than done. Many brands struggle to achieve a consistent approach across every touchpoint, and offer different experiences based on the channels and teams engaged.
Unfortunately, failing to create consistency is increasingly unforgivable in the eyes of consumers. It’s now an expectation for three-quarters of consumers, meaning you need to pull your socks up (in sync) to succeed in 2018.
Mobile users are 5 times more likely to abandon a task if a site isn’t optimized for mobile
Consistency also extends to the mobile platform. With the ongoing decrease in computer use, customers have long expected a quality mobile experience on par with your desktop website. In 2018, however, their patience is wearing thin.
Last year, 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company. This figure will only increase as our addiction to the touchscreen intensifies. Consumer mobiles are getting smarter and quicker, and they expect the websites they land on from these devices to be equally smart. As we’ve all experienced, a poor mobile website is jarring. And usually, it leads to both annoyance and abandonment.
Speed is of the essence in 2018. Customer service is increasingly centred on time, and customers are accustomed to accessing what they need on the go – without having to labour through archaic sites or wait days for responses. Real-time channels like chat save time, but they’re no good if they can’t be suitably accessed via mobile.
It’s really not rocket science: a good mobile experience is convenient, and convenience leads to a better overall customer experience.
83% of customers go to a company’s website for information
Self service will be a growing trend in customer support for 2018. A recent report found that 70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application, and 50% of customers think it’s important to be able to solve product/service issues themselves.
With telephone calls in decline, customers don’t relish the concept of picking up the phone to make a simple enquiry or find out further info. Instead, they prefer the low-barrier, low-pressure option of checking out your website. It’s your job to make it easier for customers to support themselves.
That means readily information categorised clearly in a help area, in FAQs, articles, videos, or on relevant product / info pages. It means having a customer log-in area for basic account management. And it also means making help just a click away — be it through chat channel, bot or forum.
2018: the experience era
2018 looks to be a year of change for technology, and customer service will need to evolve with the advancements it brings. 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience, so there’s no question around the benefits of using the smart technology that 2018 will offer you.
But it’s not all about tech. Customers should still be able to experience empathetic human engagement alongside technological efficiency. It is, after all, the ‘experience era’.