We live in a disruptive age, with breakthroughs in cloud, mobile, social and artificial intelligence deployed frequently to deliver new customer experiences.
These developments are so powerful, they’re enabling new, challenger organizations to take on established institutions based on service alone. Just look at the digital banks that are competing against centuries old institutions and winning customers by the thousand. Or the MVNOs that are winning customers against the traditional old mobile networks they’re piggy backing.
Differentiated service is becoming everything in business. And there’s plenty of research to back this up. Take this survey of 7000 global consumers and business buyers from Salesforce for example, which found that 75% of consumers expect consistent experiences across all channels – and are highly likely to switch brands if they don’t get it.
Their loyalty is tested and determined by every single experience. The same Salesforce research found that customers also increasingly expect companies to leverage their data to predict what they want. In fact, 61% of millennials are happy to share personal data if it leads to a more personalized in-store or online shopping experience.
These are all relatively new trends that most organizations must adapt to deal with. As Forrester put it, they are placing “unfamiliar demands on institutions, requiring changes in how they develop, market, sell, and deliver products and services.”
So… where do you turn next?
The solution made simple
When evaluating your customer service approach and considering how to respond to demands, it helps to start with a checklist like the one below. You want solutions that:
Increase flexibility, responsiveness and assist with First Call Resolution by enabling you to communicate effectively across all key channels
Improve conversion rates and reduce queues by optimizing contact routing
Put customers first by personalizing interactions
Achieve cost efficiencies and allow you to operate more efficiently by automating processes
Anticipate customer needs more effectively, with advanced data analytics across all channels
Align back-end systems for analysis and reporting to provide a single, all-encompassing view
To my mind though, we need to overlay this with another, more simple level of requirements before we even consider the shopping list of the latest customer service technologies.
What we all need to remember – despite what the latest surveys tell us – is that what customers really want more than anything is a quick response, and to communicate with an advisor who is fully informed and knows what they’re talking about.
These fundamental desires are timeless. They will never change. What this means is that above all else, organizations should strive to do three things really well:
Choose solutions based on how they meet both the timeless and evolving needs of customers, rather the latest list of features they offer
Make sure that those solutions are easy to use so advisors can work with them seamlessly
By all means look at potential to automate and save costs, but never compromise on or interfere with the ability of advisors to do what they do best
It may sound obvious, but as firms develop their customer service strategies they must remain focused on what matters to their customers and their staff. This, after all, is what digital transformation is all about. People first, technology second.
This hasn’t always happened in the past. We only have to look at the failures of the first wave of digital transformation solutions for customer service. These solutions promised best of breed technology for email, social media, webchat, video and so on; but only ended up creating silos and a sense of frustration among both managers and customer service staff.
As a new age of customer service arrives and becomes established, we can’t let that happen again.