Nearly every company today is focused on product innovation, pricing and automating various aspects of their business to improve the customer experience. In fact, by 2020, customer experience will be a more dominant competitive differentiator than price and product, according to research by Walker Info. But customer loyalty and retention aren’t influenced by these traditional, rational forces alone. Customers are also highly influenced by their emotional experiences with brands, including customer service.
Tuning into customers’ emotional needs is a must for brands looking to achieve meaningful customer engagement. And engaged customers are by far the most loyal – meaning engagement can significantly boost your organization’s profit margin and ROI.
The most successful customer service reps are emotionally intelligent enough to assess a customer’s emotions. They empathize and stay present to understand their customer’s needs and focus on sharing what they learn in the interaction to improve the next conversation.
Yet, more than 40% of live agent interactions today don’t achieve a successful resolution, according to a recent survey. And while social media has become a less popular channel for customer service, mobile messaging is quickly emerging as a preferred communication channel for consumers.
As customers increasingly want to message with brands ahead of other channels, customer service professionals have to understand how to leverage these 1:1 interactions to become smarter and deliver faster and more effective service.
Here are 3 ways brands can improve customer service by embracing change:
1. Bridge the silos that get in the way of great customer experience
Silos are a necessary evil in companies. They provide the structure that allows companies to work. Every company is split into divisions, departments, or groups, such as sales, marketing, customer service and technical support. This structure allows expertise in different areas. But company silos also cause problems that can negatively impact the customer experience.
Customers see the silo barrier at work. Often they have to repeat their issue to multiple customer care agents at a company. Later, they receive a follow up e-mail survey asking for their feedback, and a separate, unrelated communication from the marketing or sales department. The result is an experience that’s not connected or in touch with the customer’s needs. The handoffs between silos mean what could have been a single conversation adding value for the customer, instead ends up wasting their time.
Elegantly connecting silos in any company takes constant cooperation, communication and collaboration to put the customer experience first. It also means challenging how you have traditionally done things and exploring new opportunities to become more conversational as a brand.
2. Embrace mobile messaging and intelligent automation as a real-time customer service channel
With more than 1.6 billion users worldwide, mobile messaging has quickly emerged as the dominant form of communication for customers. Beyond comments on social media, customers today want to be able to message with a company in much the same way they message with friends.
Today’s conversational web means companies and their customer service teams now have the capability to message with customers in real time. Automated chatbots also offer a new, highly-efficient way to support this level of service 24/7. For customer service professionals, the best way to think about bots is making your brand’s FAQ page conversational. When customers continually inquire about the same questions, chatbots can be used to automate answers to those questions in real time.
At Pypestream, we’re working with companies across industries to improve customer service through mobile messaging and intelligent automation – making it easy for companies to handle common requests or questions through a message stream. With every company, there are only a finite number of questions customers ask. Pypestream has developed a guided decision tree model with dynamic routing for chatbots where customers are given options within the message stream.
What we’re seeing as a result is much stronger communication with customers in real time and customer service agents that are able to focus their time on connecting with customers on high level issues. In the average time a customer service agent would spend on a call, they can manage several customer conversations through messaging, with others automated through the use of chatbots.
3. Take pride in your role connecting with customers and leading successful conversations
As companies embrace mobile messaging and chatbots for customer support, driving down the cost of traditional call centers, it’s important that the focus remains on opening up and improving direct dialog with customers.
Automation through chatbots shouldn’t be viewed as a threat by customer service professionals, but an opportunity. While technology can deliver personalization, it’s the combination of intelligent automation and a human, personal touch that creates a truly exceptional customer service.