By Johann Wrede
In our increasingly customer-centric world, consumers actively engage with brands through a variety of channels every day. Forrester’s latest Customer Experience Index report shows companies that outperform competitors in customer experience are more likely to turn buyers into repeat customers, and repeat customers into loyal and engaged brand ambassadors.
Furthermore, a customer journey survey conducted earlier this year by SAP, which polled more than 3,000 Americans, ages 18 and older, found the key to improving overall customer engagement and brand loyalty is delivering when it comes to the customer’s preferred method of communication.
The findings were illuminating. In total, 48 percent of respondents reported delayed email responses—if they received them at all—from retailers they contacted; 52 percent revealed a desire for brands to proactively offer assistance before they have even asked for it; and 69 percent preferred to receive personalized information and recommendations regarding products.
So what does this mean to modern brands? It means “the customer is king” is no longer just an empty marketing mantra, but a rule that governs how organizations will continue to survive. Three areas to ensure organizations can handle the demand include the contact center, Web presence, and social media.
Make Sure Your Contact Center is Up for the Challenge
When it comes to the contact center, the ability to meet the challenge of scale is essential. To succeed, customer service representatives must utilize technology capable of handling the volume of inquiries they receive, not just through the contact center, but also via chat, email, text, Web, and social, to enable threaded conversations to unfold across channels.
If agents have complete context, they can carry the customer conversation even during the busiest times. They will also have the data on hand to offer proactive services and recommendations.
Personalize Your Web Presence
As noted by the customer journey poll, a customized digital experience is simply what modern consumers expect. Today, retailers have the ability to start the personalization process before first contact is even made by immediately determining customer method of referral.
Based upon the source, they can optimize the experience by device or browser before finally placing emphasis on the products they are most likely to buy. This is especially important considering that 72 percent of customer journey respondents revealed that they research products and services online before buying.
Guarantee Responses to Social Media Requests
Many modern retailers have carved out their own teams dedicated strictly to social support, while others have combined it with the traditional contact center. No matter what structure is employed, retailers must ensure social support staff is properly trained, so in the event of a social-based customer service misfire, the public will see an organization that has a plan in place.
To prevent such risk before it even happens, the right set of tools is required to capture each social post and guarantee responses are timely, effective, and “on-brand.” Overall, it’s vital that through education and guidance, staff is trained to use such technology appropriately. They must be able to effectively differentiate between raw data and customer insight, and gauge customer sentiment before responding—often in the blink of an eye.
Customer Experience Matters
In a commoditized market, the customer experience is one of the few ways retailers can differentiate themselves from competitors. Done right, creating memorable, personalized, and sharable experiences can create sustainable growth. Done wrong, and the results can be catastrophic.
By engraining the tenants of good customer service in your company’s DNA and leveraging the right combination of technology, people, and processes, brands will remain not only ahead of the curve, but also number one in the hearts of customers. SW
Johann Wrede is senior director of product marketing for customer engagement solutions at SAP. He has written on, implemented, sold, and marketed software for a variety of companies both large and small. Wrede is passionate about transformative technologies and the opportunities for innovation they create. He currently spends his days thinking about how companies can leverage technology to create customer engagement.
Forrester Customer Experience Index report: http://www.forrester.com/The+Business+Impact+Of+Customer+Experience+2013/fulltext/-/E-RES97721
SAP Customer Journey Survey: http://www.news-sap.com/customer-journey-poll-sap-americans-seek-shared-values-personalized-experience-brands-making-buying-decisions/
Jan2015, Software Magazine