Creating a Gold Standard of Customer Service
As an avid sports fan and skier, every time the Winter Games come around I find myself with an overwhelming sense of excitement. I’ve been watching the games since I was a child and I still remember watching the ski jumping and bobsledding races with my dad, who was a huge fan.
In that same vein, I like to think my career in marketing and customer service has plenty of opportunities for a similar adrenaline spike. Watching the best athletes in the world compete and overcome obstacles reminds us how we can apply the same level of dedication and excellence to our customers. Below, I’ve outlined a few steps brands can take to create a world-class customer experience and win the ultimate prize, customer loyalty.
Step One: Build a Winning Marketing Strategy
Creating a world-class customer experience is very similar to winning a game. Preparation and execution are essential for success. Customers expect convenience, speed, reliability and relevance each time they interact with a brand — they want the experience to appear effortless. Whether consumers are in the early stages of research, looking for recommendations or searching for a specific product online, each interaction needs to be insightful and seamless.
Just like any winner, making it appear effortless requires an industrious strategy. For a skier, this means relentless practice and rigid preparation; meanwhile for brands, customer experience encompasses a broad range of functions. This means it’s important to hone and perfect the various aspects of it. Whether interactions occur via email, chatbot, social media or through a call center, brands need a strategy that allows them to perform with grace to achieve the ultimate prize — customer loyalty.
Step Two: Ensure a Healthy Combination of Man and Machine in Customer Service
Technology has always been an important part of the Big Games and, more recently, video, analytics, and data have had a role both in practice and in judging.
Similarly, in customer service, advanced technologies are being used to improve customer experiences. While automation is not a new and agents have been automating processes for some time, the technology has evolved and customer data and artificial intelligence have helped make these engagements more helpful and personalized. With the advent of virtual agents and chatbots, brands can provide a gold standard of customer service. They can help customers resolve simple requests quickly and conveniently and enable human support resources to be more efficient and focused on larger, more in-depth customer demands.
Step Three: Always Bring Your A-game
Imagine customers who are shopping online and, before they hit the “buy” button, they have a question they need answered before committing to a purchase. If customer service cannot help in that very moment, they’re likely to lose interest. In fact, according to a recent study, 87 percent of U.S. consumers expect a response from customer service within 24 hours of a request and 20 percent within one hour.
Traditionally, customer service has been a post-purchase experience, in today’s digital era, it needs to be integrated into every stage of the buying journey. Customers expect that brands interact or engage with them in the moment when it matters to them, with contextual, personalized content that is relevant, and through a preferred channel that is more convenient for them. Just as skiers need to be prepared for anything that comes their way down the slope, whether it be terrain changes, weather patterns or other skiers, customer service today needs to be timely and consistent to answer any questions, regardless of when or where they are being asked. An easy way brands can stay on their A-game is through mobile apps, websites and text alerts — allowing customers to feel empowered to handle routine tasks that were traditionally handled by customer service agents.
When it comes to getting the gold medal in customer service, there are digital innovations across every channel. Businesses that care less about selling their products and more about integrating into them customer journeys will win. Successful customer service is a combination of convenience, responsiveness and problem-solving. And while It doesn’t happen overnight, with time, practice and diligence, brands can create the exceptional experiences that are victorious.
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