Improving customer service and creating more engaging brand experiences is key in today’s competitive marketplace. While it feels like the formula should be simple – combining the right technology with impactful and empathetic human interactions – there is a careful balance needed when building the kinds of experiences customers expect.
Customer service is at its best when you look for ways to up-level or change status quo processes and practices that aren’t working. To support this, you need to be constantly leveraging the right real-time data to get a better sense of who your customer base is, then deploying advancing technologies to facilitate frictionless transactions. Here we’re taking a look at how these three best practices add up together to create a winning customer service experience.
1. Redefining the industry status quo
In a previous article I wrote for CustomerThink, I talked about how different businesses are disrupting the status quo models of customer experience (CX) and service in their industries. For example, Uber in the taxi industry and Amazon in a myriad of different industries such as retail, shipping, supply chain and more. A common thread with both of these companies that aided in their success is they focused on making seamless and frictionless experiences for shoppers/users – from how they find or connect with the products and services they need, to how they make their purchases, to how they stay connected with the brand once a transaction is complete.
It’s important that you know what the current status quo process for CX is in your industry and identify any challenges or barriers to entry it might be creating. In Uber’s case, they were able to successfully identify almost every customer pain point associated with taking taxis – from having trouble easily finding open taxis to riding in cabs that only take cash or have difficult point of sale systems. Then, they addressed these directly within their own business model. By dissecting customer wants, intentions and frustrations with the current CX model in the taxi industry, Uber created a way to uniquely solve a long-standing industry problem.
To redefine the status quo, you need to not only identify any key issues that might be creating friction for your customers, you need to find ways to remove that friction and create a better experience that exceeds your customers’ expectations when engaging with your brand. The best service is the kind that makes the customer feel heard, supported and engaged.
2. Leveraging real-time data for mindful personalization
Today, a lot of importance is placed on real time decision making based on insights from single customer data points. One of the most common failures of brands today is not properly using the right insights to truly paint the full picture of the customer and then using that information to understand customer intent and psychology.
With a hyper focus on personalization, attempts at identifying who the customer is can sometimes backfire. A major problem in this pursuit is that brands end up asking for too much information from customers – pulling data points that aren’t relevant for personalizing a specific experience. Because of this, customers feel overwhelmed and in turn, brands likely aren’t getting the insights they need to personalize experiences for customers in a way that they will positively respond to.
Before jumping in with full force to identify who your customers are, understand what information you already have about your customers to start building their personalized experiences. Then asses what information you still need to capture and use technology to get that in real-time. This coupled with powerful end-to-end solutions will help you uncover the most useful insights from real-time data to make the experience more superior.
3. Creating frictionless experiences and transactions
In any industry, the overarching goal should always be about reducing friction while delivering on quality. A key focus here should be on using tech and digital to remove friction along the entire customer journey and deliver on promises. This is what creates better experiences, whether someone is engaging with a self-service platform or making a purchase in person. In some cases, this may translate to being able to easily shop online or order products via mobile, but in other cases this could mean making the experience in brick-and-mortar stores more seamless and enjoyable.
I often find businesses become too focused on isolated user touchpoints and as a result, end up with several disparate pieces rather than a full view of the entire customer journey start to finish. This is where friction gets introduced into the process, causing poor experiences and difficulty with completing transactions. By connecting the entire transaction lifecycle as an ecosystem, it is no longer a linear set of events. It brings all touchpoints together to focus on the complete customer journey. The bottom line is consumers are looking for the most frictionless way to engage with you and get what they need. If your customer service isn’t supporting that goal, then it will cost your brand.
Ultimately, the key to success in any customer service situation is ensuring that you are aligning your goals to those of the customer and showing them that you’re doing so. By combining these best practices to connect the customer journey from start to finish, you ensure customers feel supported throughout their entire engagement with you – and this is what keeps them coming back for the long term.