If you're a baseball fan, you know the importance of having a top notch pitching rotation, a collection of your five best pitchers that alternate starting games. Each offers a unique skill set, style, and repertoire with a common goal in mind: winning games.
You can think of your various customer service strategies as your own pitching rotation to meet the needs of your customers. The key to success with today's always-on consumers is finding the right mix of tactics. That way you can address customer concerns from different angles but with a common goal in mind: winning the customer experience.
According to Gartner, 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily on customer experience (CX), an astonishing 36 percent jump from just two years prior. Organizations face the task of aligning CRM delivery to today's customer and business demands. As a result, engaging across the customer journey and providing relevant and timely answers is one of the most important business initiatives since the Internet became widely accessible.
As CX continues to dominate the global marketplace, consider these top strategies to arm your customer experience rotation. That way, your company can deliver the most consistent, seamless experiences possible to compete in your playing field.
- Customer centricity: Sure, every company could use a champion who breaks down organizational barriers and pushes customer needs to the forefront of every interaction. But you can't rely solely on the ace of the staff; all departments share the responsibility of the customer experience in a team effort. With the help of CRM software, field service representatives, contact center personnel, and sales professionals can access pertinent customer information and receive insights from that data to guide their customer interactions. The outcomes of those interactions, across all touchpoints, then inform future interactions. That way, you can better avoid the frustrating experience of mishandling customer problems at different engagement points.
- Predictive Customer Service: Following baseball statistics today is much more than just tallying home runs and batting averages. But while there's a mind-boggling array of new stats that help predict the future production of each player, not all organizations are equipped to embrace them. Similarly, companies today are also faced with an increasing onslaught of customer data, but few are able to use that data to improve customer experiences. CRM software powered by predictive analytics is able to make sense of this data and translate insights into actions that are easily accessible to any customer service representative. As a result, customer service is shifting from a reactionary stance to a more proactive one in which service representatives, informed by data, stay ahead of potential customer issues. They might even preempt these inquiries by providing a solution before the customer even becomes aware of a problem. Organizations that can move beyond proactive customer outreach to preemptive customer service—predicting how, when, and where their customers want to be reached—will differentiate themselves as CX leaders.
- Self-Service and Beyond: Every baseball team pitching staff needs a closer, the pitcher who comes in at the end of the game to finish off the opponent. These specialty pitchers are trained to face the toughest batters in the lineup with the hardest swings. But on a customer service staff, the rise of self-service means that every employee needs to be a closer. Ninety percent of consumers expect companies to have customer self-service offerings, according to the Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report. While self-service takes care of the most common problems, this leaves the most difficult and complex situations to your customer service team to step in when customers get stuck. To help all agents do their jobs in any situation, businesses need to implement smarter technology to provide a holistic customer view while also simplifying and automating guidance to the most complex customer inquiries. That way, the manager walking out to the mound knows he's handing off the ball to someone who can finish the job.
- Human Touch: Machine learning and artificial intelligence will never replace the human touch, much like machines can never replace the instinct of a baseball manager when it's time to go to the bullpen (or at least not yet). Predictive analytics will make customer experience an easier nut to crack, but the human element still trumps the machine. According to the North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey, 69 percent of respondents reported positive results when dealing with people compared to 58 percent using self-service tactics. It's the paradox of technology: Designed poorly, these machines make interactions colder and more distant, but done properly, the automation and efficiency they provide lets your employees spend more time personalizing service experiences by empathizing with your customers. It's crucial for companies to combine the personalization of an old-school phone call with the power of predictive analytics to elevate the entire customer journey.
Winning the customer experience will require taking on an arsenal of tactics to meet customers where they are, when they need help, and how they want to engage with your company. A singular approach will isolate groups of customers with the potential to negatively affect customer experience and loyalty. By assembling these diverse strategies, companies can effectively build a successful customer experience rotation that benefits their customers and the bottom line.
Jeff Foley is director of product marketing for customer service at Pegasystems.