Delivering a superior customer experience is critical for organizations across industries amid heightened consumer expectations. Therefore, retailers and banks, for example, are continuing to innovate and introduce new online and in-store or in-branch technologies – such as beacons and location-based services – to improve their customer experience.
Digital technologies such as social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and sensors have been widely embraced by consumers, providing an opportunity to organizations to find ways to engage more effectively with their customers. By digitizing key business processes, organizations can boost customer engagement – and reshape customer perceptions and relationships.
Some businesses and sectors are making more headway than others, however, there are six strategies that help organizations, across all sectors, deliver memorable customer experiences that enable their business to grow.
Redefine customer support processes
In a world gone social, a company's reputation – and sales – may have already taken a hit by the time complaints reach customer support. Proactive processes that reach out and respond to customer inquiries are critical to maintaining positive customer relationships. To achieve this, organizations need to redefine their processes to drive proactive support, whether responding to potential escalations via social media or identifying opportunities to improve the product line. It is also essential to tie predictive and prescriptive analytics to service and support processes.
Create multiple channels but one seamless experience
Customers are used to dealing with an organization through a number of channels such as call centers, social media, online chat and e‑mail, and they expect customer support to provide the same service across all channels. While it is challenging to integrate deceptively complex processes and technologies, the payoff can be tremendous and when paired with data analytics, the volume of smart data derived from the customer engagement processes can become a massive competitive differentiator. To make the most of customer interactions through multiple channels and delivering a uniform experience, organizations need to create a unified view of their customers. Having a common system of record is foundational, which can be achieved in multiple ways, from using existing CRM systems to moving to a cloud‑based, multichannel solution.
Develop personalized product and support experiences
Personalized products and services are becoming a key area of focus for many companies. Applying Code Halo thinking - making and applying meaning from the digital data that surrounds people, processes, organizations, and devices - can be a powerful force-multiplier to accelerate the necessary process changes. Organizations should look to create unique customer data models that combine internal CRM and support data from social platforms to create specific service scenarios that help customer service anticipate and serve customers’ needs. As products become more personalized, customer support needs to use digital tools and techniques to drive a tailored and personalized support, including highly skilled customer service representatives (CSRs), who undertake the role of customer advocate as well as advisor.
Deliver 'Moments of Magic'
More and more organizations are using social media to drive service and support is gaining traction. However, according to a 2014 Cognizant report ‘Putting the Experience in Digital Customer Experience’, only a third (33%) of respondents believed their customers’ digital experience could qualify as 'high quality' and only 3% believe that it is 'excellent'. Nevertheless, 54% believed that, by 2017, their customers’ digital experience will be at least 'good,' and roughly 14% believe they will be able to justify its being regarded as 'excellent'.
Measuring the business value of social customer interactions can be tricky and volume is one factor - more important metrics include the total number of queries answered and the resulting customer satisfaction rates. Customers crave ‘moments of magic’, those unexpected interactions that leave them feeling valued. Customer support needs to plan for such qualitative moments as meticulously as it does for quantitative metrics. Smaller, qualitative gestures leave impressions on customers that are even more lasting.
Evolve customer support into a listening post
The one-to-one nature of customer support makes it a goldmine of feedback on products, services, and processes. When organizations train their customer support to probe for information as they respond to inquiries and process returns, the support function becomes an invaluable listening post.
Converting customer support into an insight generator requires rethinking the support function and shifting focus from a reactive to an interactive stance. To get there, organizations must take two distinct steps: Identify the functional, operational and cultural changes needed to create a more interactive support function and determine the process mechanisms and supporting technologies to listen more carefully to customers.
Empower frontline support employees
To deliver positive and memorable experiences, customer support needs its own positive employee experiences to inform their approach. Organisations should look at ways to increase employee autonomy and flexibility. They need to rethink how they measure performance and reward customer support staff. A ‘moment of magic’ score may be one metric that you can leverage to give rewards beyond normal operating performance.
According to reports, winners in the race for the best customer service provide a ‘straightforward, personal, seamless and quick service experience’. One bank even spontaneously sent flowers to a customer following a bereavement in the family.
While companies should take advantage of digital technologies and approaches to recast customer support as a front-office function, they should go beyond metrics and define how the organization can create, deliver and reward moments of magic.