The consumer journey, or the path a customer takes from their first ever touch point with your brand, all the way to purchase, is key in the relationship building process. Mapping every customer interaction, as they move from touch points on mobile, tablet and desktop traveling through an increasingly linear sales funnel, is a valuable way to view how a customer experiences your brand. But, how much real estate does a key factor in this journey currently occupy in the minds of marketers as they analyze and seek to improve customer experience?

Providing seamless and sophisticated service is the key asset for a better experience for customers. The digital transformation opens up an opportunity for marketing and customer support to join forces and create a unified, intelligent, superior experience for customers. Below, we explore four ways that integrated customer support can provide a boon to marketing.

Customer Support is an Integral Part of Customer Experience

The proliferation of smartphones has amplified the importance of customer experience because mobile is now applied to our lives in a variety of different contexts. Consumers have access to an unprecedented number of products and services at their fingertips, and if the customer experience is unfavorable, users will readily switch to a competitor. Customer care is one of the biggest factors contributing to a positive customer experience, which has a direct impact on revenue. Ignoring innovative, low-cost support tactics like in-app self-service FAQs, and in-app agent-to-user messaging hurts the bottom line.

Ninety percent of the world’s population will own or have access to smartphones by 2020, signaling that in-app customer service will become even more important. Part of improving customer experience is recognizing and conforming to customer’s desires. According to Forrester, the use of chat and messaging as a path to service are growing – while phone support continues to irk.

Through new, digital communication channels, customer support can now act as an extension of your marketing initiatives

Before the digital revolution, the customer experience was tied to a brick and mortar store and the experience was very personal and tailored. Now, we are learning that the positive aspects of these human to human interactions that kept customers coming back needs to be brought into mobile. Mobile apps provide us with a myriad of ways for brands and businesses to better connect and engage their customers.

In-app messaging and push notifications have emerged as a go-to tactic for marketers to reach users where they are the most – on their mobile phones. Mary Meeker’s annual report from this year tells us that consumers spend 4-5 hours a day on mobile phones, with 89% of that time spent in apps. Now, customer support can have capabilities to send extremely targeted direct, in-app messages to engage users. User data makes messages relevant and contextual, based on the user’s individual activity in-app, their location, or other segments based on specific behaviors or demographics. For example, if a user left an abandoned shopping cart in-app or has demonstrated a drop in activity that reaches a certain threshold, a push or in-app message can be automatically triggered and sent to that user. This proactive use of outbound messaging can bring a customer back to your app, increase the lifetime value of that customer and increase retention. This outbound communication has traditionally been a marketing function but is now crossing over as a supporting tactic because of the wealth of customer data available to customer support teams. Also, push notifications can be deployed to drive app store reviews, aiding in a fundamental process for app developers and brands expanding their mobile presence along with introducing feedback into a fresh app update: App Store Optimization (ASO).

In-app surveys are a great way to get valuable customer data in a way that isn’t a drain on the users’ time and energy. The best in-app surveys are short and engaging, and most likely utilize swipes and check boxes that take seconds for a user to complete. The data is instantly actionable for support teams, and marketers can also analyze this data to learn how their communications can more effectively teach customers about new product features, or know when it’s time to publicly address issues that continuously come up in support messages and surveys.

Effective customer support increases retention

A study from Gartner shows that 80% of future revenue comes from 20% of current customers. Retaining customers in the mobile age of constant information, distractions and alternatives present a unique challenge that requires harmonious customer support and marketing. A lack of responsive, convenient customer support can effectively burn those marketing dollars spent to acquire users.  In fact, Lifetime Value (LTV) has become an increasingly vital KPI for marketers, since revenue from a loyal customer is larger, more predictable, helps drive down customer acquisition costs, and is better for the customer experience.

If you’re like me, you’ve cringed when seeing customer service issues populate your Twitter feed, and have probably been turned off by a company that regularly attracts firestorms of angry users. Frustrated customers, without an accessible path to service, turn to social media to vent. While this potentially viral communication doesn’t produce the kind of positive referrals marketers dream of, we certainly can’t stop customers from using their social media accounts as a service channel if they please. But, clear alternatives can help guide customers to better, more private support channels that won’t scare off potential customers or harm brand reputation. Another reason to rejoice is that social is declining as a preferred medium of support since many customers view it as ineffective. Of course, marketers should still utilize social media to share customer support successes and referrals.

Customers are more empowered than ever to dictate how, why, when they want to talk to businesses – not the other way around. They want to feel empowered to create their own successes and control their own customer journey. Enable this, and they’ll thank you by returning to your app again and again.

Data collaboration between marketing and customer support gives both departments a more fully realized view of the customer

There is something pulling Marketing and Customer Support together, a force that can for once and for all, make them inseparable: data. Data is the glue that is creating a new symbiosis that marketers should capitalize on.

In the age of big data and digitization, there are massive, unprecedented amounts of customer data created every day. Before this transformation, the only way customer information could be made into actionable data was to input it manually, piece by piece. This time-consuming process and the systems used to store the data hindered sophisticated collaboration between departments within a company. Of course, our forefathers and mothers in marketing did not have access to the customer-data catching technologies and systems that we have today. In the present day, marketers are already using empirical data to learn how to best approach the right people with the right information, and customer support teams have their own histories with consumers – demographic information, what they don’t like, and what products and features they want next. In this way, customer support teams learn distinct behaviors and opinions that marketers have traditionally not had access to, allowing marketers to better target their audience and to provide a stellar experience.

Now, the challenge for businesses is to make the data they have on users streamlined, collaborative and functional. Eliminating a siloed view of customer support and marketing allows marketers and support agents to make better decisions powered by data – improving marketing results and providing a better customer experience. After all, if customer support data can bring marketers to a better, more realized view of the customer, is there any reason these two should be kept apart?

Abinash’s Bio:

Abinash Tripathy is the Co-founder and CEO of Helpshift, the world’s leading customer support platform for mobile. Abinash is utilizing his 20 years of experience with mobile technology and CRM to re-imagine CRM for the post-PC era. Prior to founding Helpshift, Abinash created and ran a number of early and growth stage companies where he was responsible for conceptualizing and delivering the world’s first Unified communications platform, Mobile Photo Messaging and MMS products to the market. He started his career at Oracle where he was part of the team that wrote the first in-house CRM solution.

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