4 Ways to Stay Ahead of the Customer Experience Transformation

Let's be honest: COVID-19 has changed the way we do everything, in some cases, permanently. There has been a drastic shift in the way we live, shop, work, and do business.

We've adapted to many of these changes in our personal lives but are still learning how to translate these changes to the way we do business. Through this transformation, one thing is constant: customer relationships remain vital for continued success.

As we all worked to navigate the global pandemic, organizations that put customer support front and center prospered. But customer support is only one piece of the customer experience. There are many touchpoints along the customer journey, and it's important to provide thoughtful support at each one of them.

I view this from both a human and financial perspective. The pandemic has changed the customer service (CS) and customer experience (CX) landscape. Customer service has evolved from an afterthought into a critical aspect of the overall customer experience. A business segment once deemed as a cost center, customer service is now a major growth driver. In a time of isolation, human contact is more meaningful. How you treat your customers defines your company and how it is perceived in the market. All of this combines to create memorable, quality customer experiences that drive revenue for your organization. If you're missing even one piece of the puzzle, your customer experience will suffer, and you will feel the impact to your bottom line.

While the customer experience is transforming at a rapid pace alongside digital transformation, there are a few ways you can stay one step ahead.

Leverage digital transformation to help customers through new channels.

Customers want you to meet them where they are, and they want their interactions with your business to be convenient and quick. The pandemic has only increased their expectations for the companies with which they do business.

One of the biggest expectations is 24/7 support. It's necessary if you want to satisfy customers while keeping up with competitors. One of the key channels enabling around-the-clock support are messaging platforms. Throughout the pandemic, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have provided an increasingly popular support channel with their messaging apps. Nearly a third of customers messaged a company for the first time in 2020, and 74 percent say they will continue to do so.

Messaging is an innovative way to communicate with and support customers. It enables agents to handle multiple tickets at once, while saving customers time on the phone listening to annoying hold music. We can all relate, right? Support via messaging also provides customers with quick answers, especially with the advent of chatbots. Sometimes you have a simple question that doesn't require a conversation, and that is where chatbots shine.

Adding a messaging platform into your customer support repertoire will make it easier for your agents to help customers, making your customers happier in the long run.

Keep the human connection top of mind.

We might be in the middle of a digital revolution, but that doesn't mean we can forgo the importance of the human connection. If anything, we need to learn how we can lean further into connecting human and digital touchpoints to help provide meaningful experiences. Customer service interactions are the number one way to build trust and gain loyalty, specifically interactions involving human representatives.

Digital tools like chatbots are necessary for successful CS/CX and create better outcomes for customers and agents. The right tools might add efficiency, but this is still an area where agents are critical to a positive overall customer experience. Humans play an important role in addressing the technical issues that customers are experiencing while providing a level of empathy that chatbots can't.

A great way to understand the value of human interaction is to put yourself in the shoes of an angry or dissatisfied customer. The issue they are having is likely beyond the capabilities of what a chatbot can remedy. This is where an agent can step in, relate to customers, and potentially stop them from cancelling their accounts and looking elsewhere. Chatbots are great for frequently asked questions, but human agents provide thoughtful responses to more in-depth inquiries and make customers feel that they are being heard.

Be agile.

The right balance of human interaction and technology leads to better agility. Consumer demands change rapidly. Help your teams to embrace an agile mindset by training them to work across channels. By doing so, you'll eliminate would-be-tickets because customers will already have the knowledge to resolve the issue themselves. By combining digital tools with human agents, you enable your team to quickly respond to changing customer demands.

Analyze how you're using your workflow management tools like automations, macros, and triggers. Optimizing these tools by using automated email updates and built-in responses will free up time for your agents to tackle tougher problems that arise.

Another way to decrease common customer questions is to leverage self-service tactics like knowledge-base articles to enable customers to find what they need without a representative. The key to agility is providing your support team and your customers the tools and information needed to make the support process seamless and easy.

Add in personalization while still helping a large number of customers.

According to Accenture, 75 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that know their names and can recommend items based on their purchase and search histories. Customers want it all: convenience, speed, and personalization. It might seem impossible, but there are methods to keep pace so you can quickly help a large number of customers with a personalized approach that makes them feel heard and understood. Doing this at scale gets tricky, but it's possible.

Here are a few ways you can ensure you're accomplishing this:

  • Keep a record of customers' previous issues. By knowing where they've struggled in the past, you can anticipate future problems and resolve them faster.
  • Ensure agents are greeting customers by name online and on the phone.
  • Provide timely discounts, offerings, and rewards based on your knowledge of the customer.

Something else to consider: Increased personalization comes at the cost of customers sharing their personal data. To make the above personalization tactics part of your strategy, you will need the right customer insight, which requires customers to share information with you. This can be done by making it simple for customers to understand how and why their data will be used. Transparency in how your company manages customer data should be easily accessible to your customers so they feel comfortable sharing.

The pandemic isn't over. We are still living through it and learning how to operate efficiently and empathetically. And even when it does end, we all need to be poised for the next great disruptor.

Customers have set the bar high, but by taking the time to see things from their perspective you'll be able to make the necessary tweaks to your strategy to prioritize both customer support and customer experience. Enable your agents to provide second-to-none support and they'll keep your customers happy and your revenue goals on track.

Kellie Walenciak is head of marketing and communications at Televerde.