Modern customer service looks very different from prior decades. Customers gravitate toward brands that have differentiated customer service, leaving those that don’t in the dust. With this in mind, brands now realize that customer service is directly tied to their revenue, and are modernizing applications.
How Can You Provide Differentiated Customer Service?
According to a 2016 study by Forrester, superior modern customer service drives superior revenue growth in industries where customers can easily switch to competitors that deliver a differentiated customer experience. Since then, 81% of organizations cite CX as a competitive differentiator and research continues to support the notion that more organizations are leveraging differentiated customer experience to gain an edge against their competition. By ignoring customer service, brands are missing out on market share and revenue.
In this blog post, we share three ideas and concepts that will help you with modernizing customer engagement and transform your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center.
1) Take a True Omnichannel Approach to Modernize Customer Service
Many believe that the concept of omnichannel dates back to 2003 when Best Buy created a strategy that centered around the customer in order to compete with Walmart’s electronics department. At this time, retailers were starting to see online sales grow at a fast pace, especially for items that didn’t require you to touch them to feel confident in a purchase decision, such as electronics. All that was needed when it came to shopping for consumer electronics were specifications and dimensions of the products.
Best Buy knew that since they could not compete with Walmart’s low prices, they would have to take another approach, one that focused on the customer experience both in-store and online, while providing superior post-sales support. This is where the concept of “customer centricity” was born, which is at the core of an omnichannel approach to modernizing customer engagement.
So what does a true customer-centric omnichannel approach look like in 2022 and beyond? Let’s start by first explaining the concept of multichannel, which is often mislabeled as omnichannel.
In the diagram above, we have the typical multichannel model of customer engagement, where the customer reaches out through the channels of their choice. Each individual engagement becomes a “ticket” or “case” within the contact center, with different customer support agents tackling each issue. This creates three main problems:
1. Each agent fails to recognize that their colleagues are working on the same issue, which in turn becomes an unnecessary expenditure of resources for the company.
2. The customer experiences inconsistencies with how their issue is solved, as each agent may have their own way of wording or solving the issue.
3. Unless the agents recognize that these tickets are from the same customer and take steps to merge them, reporting will be skewed, as there may be different response times, resolutions and CSAT scores for each ticket.
Let’s take a look at what a true omnichannel customer engagement model looks like:
In this model, we are still meeting customers when and where they want to be engaged, yet on the back-end, there is one major difference: each individual engagement shows up as one conversation for a single agent to respond to. This sole difference alleviates the three problems outlined above and demonstrates a great example of modern customer experience.
So how does a true omnichannel approach help turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center? According to Aberdeen Group, companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies. Similarly, strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies. This emphasizes why modernizing customer engagement is so important.
2) Ensure Differentiated Customer Experience by Appealing to Your Customers’ Emotions
Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, economist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, introduced the idea of a dichotomy between two modes or systems of thought. “System 1” is fast, instinctive, unconscious, automatic and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, calculated and logical. In these modes of thought, “System 1” dominates “System 2”, as it takes much less effort, making it the default system.
If you have ever worked in customer support, you will quickly notice that some customers may be disrespectful and downright nasty. But it’s important to note that none of these outbursts are personal attacks and are oftentimes the expression of frustration when it comes to solving their problems. This is an example of “System 1” thinking and the impact of this “System 1” thinking from your customers is a powerful double-edged sword. The reward or punishment for solving their issue is magnified by social media and online reviews, which are of critical importance in modern customer service.
As Spiegel Research Center finds, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. Each interaction will either create brand advocates for your company that will help bring in more revenue or brand detractors that will bring negative financial repercussions. That being said, we can create more brand advocates if we meet customer expectations by implementing digital transformation strategies and modernizing customer engagement.
This begs the question: what does the modern-day customer expect in their customer journey? In today’s world of modern customer service, customers expect their problems to be resolved quickly, effortlessly and empathetically. In fact a recent Kustomer survey found 89% of consumers think contacting customer service should be easier and more convenient. Furthermore, 82% of consumers in the same study like when businesses communicate with them in a conversational, friendly manner. Essentially, consumers want to talk to an agent that is a “System 2” thinker. Being able to provide top-notch, modern customer service allows your company to achieve the ideal level of differentiated customer service.
As a leader in your organization, it is imperative to set up an infrastructure that is designed to take into account the emotional component of the customer experience within the customer journey. Fortunately, modern-day artificial intelligence (AI) methods such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), predictive analytics, deep learning, and multi-dimensional neural network mappings can be leveraged. These sophisticated technologies allow for functionalities such as customer sentiment analysis and automatic language detection.
By considering how your customers are feeling throughout their customer communications, your organization can take appropriate action to ensure they leave the interaction happy and on their way to becoming brand advocates. That is why the customer journey is so crucial. A positive experience helps ensure customer satisfaction, and inevitably, customer loyalty. With all the tools available today, there is no reason why modernizing customer engagement shouldn’t be easy and effective.
3) Streamline and Automate Customer Experience Business Processes
In legacy CX technology ecosystems, customer data is siloed. Each individual system may require manual updates as agents work through each ticket or case. Reports will need to be pulled from separate systems in an attempt to get a 360-degree view of the CX organization.
In this ecosystem of siloed customer data, we are not only pulling agents away from being in front of customers by requiring manual data entry, but we are also compromising the integrity of our reporting and visibility into the CX organization. Ultimately, this is hindering our ability to be agile and adjust to changing customer expectations.
The solution to these problems caused by fragmentation is to consolidate your customer data into a modern customer experience platform that is capable of taking all of your customer data and making it viewable, searchable, actionable and reportable. Notice we are not talking about a helpdesk product, but rather a next-generation platform for customer experience, support and service. A unified CX platform can make modernizing customer experience simple and streamlined.
With all customer data under one roof, business process automation can be leveraged to their full potential. Automations are no longer limited within each individual silo but instead can impact the entire CX ecosystem.
As businesses are seeing a bigger impact on their revenue directly from customer experience, CX leaders need to ensure that their technology is up-to-date in order to stay competitive. The days of customers tolerating poor experiences are over. Think about it — your closest competitor is just a 15-second google search away. As they should, customers expect more from us.
Fortunately, technology exists today to aid in modernizing customer engagement, building more brand advocates, and ultimately turning your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center. It’s time to take a good look at your organization and ask the tough question: is my CX organization built to deliver a modern-day customer experience that will turn brand detractors into brand advocates?
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