In the realm of customer care, there’s tried-and-true, traditional customer service, and then there’s digital customer service. While there’s certainly plenty of overlap, the latter takes a more focused perspective and is designed to support digital consumers by taking their omnichannel customer journey into consideration.
This might have you wondering, what is digital customer service, exactly? And how can digital customer care improve the overall customer experience? Read on for answers to the most common digital customer service questions, plus tips and strategies for delivering a top-notch digital customer experience (DCX), no matter where your customers are.
What Is Digital Customer Service?
Digital customer service has come about because of the demands of the digital consumer Digital customers connect with businesses and make purchases using digital channels such as web, mobile, social, and email. Digital customers can maintain a relationship with a brand without ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar establishment, but may communicate with brand representatives over live chat, email, text, social or the phone. Importantly, a digital customer may engage with a company across multiple channels.
Customer support has drastically changed over the past two decades to accommodate these somewhat elusive digital consumer behaviors and high customer expectations. Over the next few years, customer service experts predict that ensuring consistency across customer touchpoints will be a top priority for businesses.
But even today, customers look for a rich support experience that efficiently and effectively meets their needs. Simply put, digital customer service, or digital customer care, is what businesses must provide to help meet the needs of their digital customers.
But it’s not just about solving a ticket in a transactional manner; it’s part of a whole new customer engagement philosophy. The best digital customer service approach works toward building and cultivating a great relationship with customers. In this relationship, the brand treats the customer as a real person with a name and a history and a habit of hopping from one digital channel to another.
Additionally, it requires a proactive strategy wherein the business anticipates as many of its customers’ needs and expectations as possible ahead of time — and addresses these with the right technology. Then, when a particular issue arises, the digital customer service team can work toward a personalized solution within an already supportive environment.
What Is Digital Customer Experience?
The digital customer experience (DCX) encompasses all aspects of a customer’s interactions with a brand through digital channels, and the overall brand perception and satisfaction they’re left with as a result. This includes touchpoints like:
- Visiting a website on mobile.
- Viewing social media ads, like Twitter and Facebook.
- Browsing through products online.
- Reading customer reviews.
- Logging in to their personal account.
- Testing out a promo code in the checkout.
- Completing an online transaction.
- Receiving an order confirmation email.
- Messaging with an AI chatbot for assistance.
- Processing a return online.
- And every other step along the digital customer journey.
The collection of these activities and impressions, DCX, is also sometimes called digital client experience or digital consumer experience. In most cases, it can also be considered an omnichannel customer experience, given the way in which customers will approach the same brand from various channels.
As a result, another important aspect of DCX is the customer’s experience when switching between channels. For instance, when hopping from a mobile device to a laptop to take a closer look at a product saved in their shopping cart, most online shoppers wouldn’t think twice about the logistical considerations related to making that a seamless experience. But, if siloed systems require the customer to run the same search and provide the same basic information over and over again, the experience probably won’t leave a great lasting impression.
How Can Digital Customer Service Improve Your Customer Experience?
To provide successful digital customer service, brands must be able to support customer needs anytime, anywhere. And, the customer should always be able to pick up right where they left off. One-third of consumers agree that the tedious process of having to re-introduce and explain themselves to multiple agents is one of the most frustrating aspects of customer service experiences, according to Hubspot.
One way to help improve the customer experience is to implement conversational support. Conversational support is facilitated by all information about a customer being accessible to agents in one place, allowing agents to have real, human, personalized conversations. It eliminates the hassle of having to repeatedly address customer problems and make them repeat their stories. With conversational support, you are able to provide omnichannel outreach and an integrated view.
Omnichannel support allows customers the ability to reach out on a variety of channels such as email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, mobile app messages and voice. When using an omnichannel support system, it’s seamless for customers to contact you on their preferred channel, and the conversation continues between channels, ensuring all the relevant information stays in one place.
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An integrated view of the customer makes it easy to see conflicts in conversations and allows the most appropriate agent to proactively jump in when necessary.
Accenture found that 91% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands that recognize them by name, remember their purchase history and provide personalized offers and product recommendations. With the right tools in place, brands can deliver the best digital customer experience possible, solve issues as they arise and even provide incentives and suggestions that are tailored to the customer’s interests and past activity. Great digital customer service promotes customer satisfaction and retention.
Moreover, exceptional service can increase customer acquisition through word-of-mouth and reviews. A study from American Express revealed that, on average, U.S. consumers will discuss a negative customer experience with 15 people but would share a good experience with 11 people. The numbers go up to 17 and 15, respectively, for millennial consumers. So, a positive DCX not only stops negative feedback from spreading like wildfire, but it also leaves favorable brand impressions with about a dozen additional consumers for each satisfied customer.
How Can You Provide Excellent Digital Customer Service?
In order to provide seamless digital customer service and a seamless DCX, you’ll need to direct your efforts toward digital customer experience management. Let’s explore a few best practices to work into your strategy.
First, take advantage of automation, AI and self-service tools that can quickly collect data and diagnose problems. When a customer need arises, these tools can allow customers to access immediate information — and potentially a quick solution. Or, they can collect the most important details and open a customer support conversation. The best tools will be able to manage or assign conversations and even deliver automated messages based on certain triggers you’ve identified, saving you time and energy to address more complex customer needs.
Next, make sure you’re set up with a system that stores and transfers customer data to support more seamless customer care. For instance, a skilled customer service agent who is prepared with the background information gathered by a chatbot can get right to work solving more complex issues. The customer service team will appear more capable and expedient when they don’t have to backtrack. Plus, customers have come to expect customer service handoffs that are as seamless as their digital browsing and buying experiences.
In addition, providing exceptional digital customer service entails creating personalized interactions with each and every customer. Learning the difference between transactional and conversational support can be beneficial to your company and assist in figuring out what works best for your customers.
Conversational support produces minimal customer service handoffs and addresses concerns at the source with a skilled customer service agent, one that is knowledgeable about specific background information on the topic at hand. Conversational support elevates the customer experience, but can also benefit the company. Customer conversations are integrated so each agent has access to the full history of each customer. It also makes it easier for customers to contact a business on any channel, thus creating a seamless experience and clear line of communication.
Finally, remember to gather customer feedback on the digital customer support and overall DCX you’re providing after each digital customer interaction. When customers have a chance to offer their opinions, they typically feel more satisfied with the interaction overall. Plus, you can use customers’ valuable feedback to improve your processes.
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