Success vs failure: Customer service in the digital age

Sush Labs

Defining customer service in the digital age

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of how businesses interact with customers, putting a greater spotlight on the importance of digital channels and delivering well-considered omnichannel experiences.

According to Salesforce Research, 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer experience, and 65% of consumers expect businesses to know their needs and expectations. Not only that, if customer service is viewed as excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with a company again after a mistake.

Meanwhile, Invesp finds investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing customers, while Zendesk states nearly 3 out of 5 consumers report that good customer service is key for them to feel loyalty toward a brand.

It’s safe to say that today good customer service results in growth and longevity for a business, while poor service results in loss of customers and reputation. In the digital age the customer is an important component of any broader business strategy, and it can mean all the difference in a difficult and competitive landscape.

The role of technology: chatbots, efficiency, personalisation

Technology is being utilised across every vertical to enhance user experiences, streamline operations and ensure consistency of customer experiences. 

One example of this is chatbots. Pop-up chat windows on online services have had a huge uptake in recent years, particularly when COVID-19 led to remote interactions being the only port of call for many businesses. In a world where customers expect fast, personal responses, chatbots provide a self-serve experience that can serve immediate results and support the wider customer service team. 

TechRepublic finds that companies using chatbots are 60% more likely to improve resolution times and 30% more likely to improve customer satisfaction. In addition, teams that use chatbots are 27% more likely to feel they can meet increasing customer expectations.

This trend shows no sign of slowing down. The same report finds that in the coming year, 50% of customer service leads plan to invest in automation including chatbots with the aim of extending their team’s efficiency. In addition, businesses already investing in chatbots are nearly four times more likely to continue their investment in automation.

Another example of how technology is empowering the customer service space is data. As more data is captured about customers and the tools that help us understand this data continue to advance, businesses are more able to improve experiences and deliver personalisation at scale.

Generally speaking, to derive value from data businesses must complete the following: ensure that data is unified and easily accessible, segment data and tailor information to each persona or segment, and utilise smart technologies to enhance growth.

Regardless of the technology, investment must be strategically aligned to both long and short term goals. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that organisations must implement technology in a way that provides immediate benefits, such as automating systems and implementing self-service plug-ins, while also preparing for future unknowns.

Customer experience: speed, eCommerce, omnichannel

In the past year, as numerous businesses were forced to move operations online and interact with customers via digital channels, the expectations around speed and quality, e-commerce and consistency all increased tenfold.

When it comes to e-commerce, in the past year consumers in droves turned to online services. This also included those over the age of 65, a demographic that has historically been least likely to shop online and order for delivery. Many older consumers were interacting with brands in a way they never had before, and were looking for answers to questions quickly and clearly.

The rise of e-commerce shows up another key area of customer experience: omnichannel presence. Customers today are more likely to interact with a brand at multiple different touchpoints, such as the brand’s social media pages, website and shopping portal. As a result, businesses are called on to have seamless, clear and consistent branding and customer service to enhance reputation, sense of trust and loyalty. 

This isn’t to say a business is expected to never make a mistake, but even in these instances it has become imperative for the business to be clear, direct, quick and thorough. After all, a poor response can result in a customer simply leaving for a different service.

Your customers are your best advocate

Customer service and experience is no longer a siloed aspect of a business where the main portal of interaction is a phone call. Over the years we have witnessed the very foundation of the customer-business relationship drastically shift, becoming more nuanced, digitised and customer-driven.

Customer service is also no longer a private interaction. With the increasing merit placed on reviews, and word of mouth now amplified into the online space, your approach to how you build and deliver your customer experience has ramifications beyond a singular interaction. Your customer can easily voice their complaints or sing your praises, and be heard by far more than their friends or family.

Furthermore, when you consider that the vast majority of customers will change to another business following just one poor interaction, having a competitive edge is huge. Today you can win over a large chunk of your competitor’s customer base, and it all starts with delivering a positive and personalised customer experience.

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