Balancing a diverse product profile and increasingly global consumer base brings new and more complex service challenges. The increasing number of consumer touchpoints, and instant, always-on connectivity, challenges brands to consistently give their customers everything they expect, across every channel.
That’s why many consumer electronics firms are putting an asterisk on improving customer experience. A 2010 IBM study found that one negative experience can drop a customer’s brand loyalty by half. And executives are taking notice. Oracle reported in 2013 that executives feel that providing a negative, inconsistent and irrelevant brand experience could decrease a company’s annual revenue by up to 20 percent.
It’s essential for companies today to seamlessly and cohesively provide stellar customer service across any channel, and find a way to help inquiring customers move their engagement across channels without losing the information exchanged in their last interaction. They also need to ensure agents are factored in so they can quickly and efficiently respond to customer requests.
To successfully implement this unified engagement, omnichannel, always-on, easy-to-do-business-with customer service approach, brands and businesses must put experience at the core. What does this mean?
1. Understand the consumer journey: Understand where your customer is trying to reach you, and what they’re trying to achieve. Each customer will interact differently, so make sure you’re providing them with the right resources in the right place, so they can easily find the information they need.
2. Acknowledge that consumer comfort comes first: The majority of consumers want to be in charge of managing the services they use including their transactions, troubleshooting and resolving a technical issue, buying a product, etc. As a result, they are more than ready to use self-help tools themselves to find an answer.
3. Be proactive: As new channels surface, consumers expect that the servicing brand will provide proactive information through all channels of communication. For example, a consumer wants to be constantly updated on the status of a shipment they ordered, without being the one to make the initial contact.
4. Understand the power of knowledge: In the process of developing an omnichannel consumer engagement experience, it is very important for businesses trying to deliver services through web self-service to provide agent-based communication channels. Knowledge management, in combination with online self-help tools, can help reduce manual overhead and provide dynamic engagement solutions.
5. Be tech savvy: With new channels evolving so rapidly customer service reps need the ability to interact with multiple back-end systems in order to optimize the omni-channel environment and businesses keep using the channels and systems in silos.
Providing outstanding customer experience means helping your customer find what they’re looking for, as quickly as possible — and in their preferred place or format. Increasingly, this means online, as Gartner recently reported that social media and digital self-help channels will be preferred by 2018, with approximately two-thirds of all customer interactions taking place there.
Today, consumers own the relationship with a company or brand, meaning companies must adapt their framework to unify and simplify their brand experience.
Mandeep Kwatra is solutions and capabilities VP for HGS.