When lockdown hit, customer service teams on the frontline of every business found themselves at the centre of a perfect storm. Dealing with both the instant switch to remote working and staffing shortages due to the pandemic, they also had to handle a huge influx in phone and email enquiries from customers struggling to keep their cool as they tried to rearrange cancelled bookings and secure refunds. Research shows there is still a significant disconnect between the service businesses think they are delivering, and the service customers believe they are getting. While the situation remains precarious, now is the time to focus on delivering fast, transparent and verified support. Putting the right technology at the heart of this transformation will be key to success.
Many businesses shifted their operations online to continue selling safely through the pandemic, with worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies and services expected to rise by over 10% by the end of this year. This has opened a vast array of new communication platforms on which organisations can engage with their customers. But businesses must ensure they are strengthening the bridge between their different channels to ensure a consistent customer experience. Omnichannel strategies have become a necessity, as companies find new ways to interact with their customer base on the channels, they are using the most. Taking support to their customers rather than bringing them to support is critical.
Here are some useful tips for reinventing your customer experience with a supercharged omnichannel approach :
- No one customer is the same: People like to be treated as individuals and want to raise issues in the environments that they’re most comfortable in. It’s no good for businesses to invest heavily in one channel at the risk of another, as they could end up isolating a big customer segment.
Being able to support customers through email, phone, and chat services in a single, streamlined solution can help businesses deliver a better overall experience. The last thing customers want to do is repeat themselves when they switch between a chatbot interaction, text, email, or phone exchange. Offering a seamless experience means a customer’s query is logged once and shared across all communication channels, reducing the likelihood of them becoming dissatisfied with the service they are receiving.
- Look inward, as well as outward: It’s not just your customer-facing technology that you should consider, you also need to think about the internal systems that can actually help improve your target market’s perception of the company. Taking an omnichannel approach to customer communication provides multiple platforms on which to collect customer data. With more data, you can build a better picture of the average customer journey – from awareness and consideration through to purchase – and deliver a better experience for each of them.
By offering your customers multiple touchpoints with which to interact with your brand, they can get everything they need from a single source of truth, without having to bounce between the channels.
- Tweak and optimise campaigns as necessary: To succeed in hitting the right tone, keeping existing customers and attracting new ones, you should understand exactly which marketing campaigns are resonating, and which aren’t. The results right now are likely to be very different to ‘business as usual’ – so the approach taken needs to be tailored to each customer accordingly. Research into sales leaders during COVID-19 found that 62% have directed their teams to spend more time in their CRM system, looking at what insights they can glean from it. The CRM system is a powerful tool for collecting data and learning more about each customer, with the goal of delivering a better experience and building the trust between buyer and seller.
- Smart CX starts with AI
There is a growing AI revolution taking place in customer service centres. Research found that a quarter (25%) of businesses want to use the technology to improve their customers’ experience of their brand. This is hugely encouraging for the industry as a whole, but organisations shouldn’t invest in AI for the sake of it. They need to find areas in which its use will see most value.
For example, over a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said that their biggest frustration when dealing with customer service agents was being left on hold for too long. This issue has been exacerbated further by the huge volume of enquiries customer support teams now find themselves facing, with some customers waiting hours before getting through. AI-powered chatbots can remove some of this backlog by automating simple questions and routing customer chats that require urgent attention through to human service agents.
We know that consumers prize human interaction, especially during a time when that is so limited. For this reason, AI should only be brought in to augment, not replace human customer service agents. In doing so, businesses can develop AIs that mimic the behaviour of their best agents, while freeing up their time to focus on trickier cases. This will ultimately lead to more positive outcomes, better all-round customer experiences, greater brand loyalty and increased long-term value.
Whatever systems you deploy, it’s important to be mindful of how your customers want to interact with you, not the other way around. As customers look to support the businesses that are looking after them the most, offering a consistent experience across your channels is key to securing loyal customers and repeat business.