Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Efficient and effective online customer support is vital in engaging potential customers. Customers become loyal to a brand when their needs are perpetually met, they’re guided in the right direction, and they grasp a good client to brand relationship.
Digitalization has fundamentally shifted the dynamics of customer experience. Today’s customers yearn for personalization across their whole user journey. Businesses cannot afford to overlook a single touchpoint - an omnichannel approach is needed.
Cross-channel connections and access for agents to real-time customer history create the perfect conditions to provide an effortless context-driven service.
In this roundup article, HARO experts share insights into challenges faced by customer service agents and the strategies they need to adopt to deliver against changing customer expectations.
1. A centralized system to address customer concerns
Joe from GetSongbpm says, “Customers do not want to drive to a store in order to get their questions answered anymore, and having to make a call can also be just as tedious. This is exactly why online customer service desks and platforms have become the preferred methods of getting in touch with an agent and obtaining support for most consumers.
Allowing a customer to log onto your website and fill out a ticket means they do not have to visit a physical location and they do not have to pick up the phone and call someone. This reduces the costs associated with international calls and also ensures the consumer has a full record of notes and messages between them and the customer care consultant.
Bottom Line: An online customer care system gives the consumer an easier way to get questions answered and the support they might need.”
2. A comprehensive customer communication system is needed
Vito from Vaetas suggests, “How quickly businesses response to customers determine if a customer views you as a business partner or just a vendor who sold to them.
Instead of a traditional help desk, we incorporated a comprehensive customer communication system directly into our product. We also integrated it with a Slack channel so we are immediately notified that a customer needs assistance. We strive to reply within minutes.
We also created a library containing short video answers to the exact questions we have been asked. The videos are returned based on the keywords entered.
However, we follow up with a chat message to ensure they received the information they needed. What we found is that most of the questions have nothing to do with our product, but rather either their computer or browser. So we added answers to the common issues to our support system as well.
It is best to view online support as your customer retention program. It adds the human connection to your business and demonstrates that your customer base is actually a community that they belong to.”
3. Leveraging visual engagement tools to enhance customer experience
Sam from Acquire emphasizes real-time support to improve the overall experience of the customers.
Sam says “While working with customers online - service agents can encounter issues where they need to collaborate on the same page to gain an instant understanding of the trouble the customer is experiencing.
This is where visual engagement tools like cobrowse, screen share, and video call comes in.
An interesting case of this is of insurance companies - who often experience lag time and low turn around in underwriting. On the other hand customer experience with underwriting includes confusing application forms, long proofing process and receiving quotes.
Unfamiliar with the concept of waiting, customers want their issues solved with minimal effort from their side.
Cobrowsing a.k.a collaborative browsing allows agents to see and interact with their customers’ screens in real-time with just a click of a button. Once granted access to their screen the support agent could spot the problem, view, and validate the document in real-time and move along the approval process in one go.”
4. Customers prefer chatbot over human interaction
Nate from Maple Holistics says customers prefer dealing with chatbots to humans.
“While some companies are skeptical about introducing chatbots onto their sites, the data shows that it can be the difference between poor conversion rates and high customer loyalty.
In fact, AI bots can now collect basic customer info and create a more user-friendly shopping experience. Consumers actually prefer these interactions since they are faster and more simple than traditional sales methods.
Furthermore, chatbots are no longer just for basic customer service questions – These bots are now capable of giving complex responses and suggestions, including recommending specific styles based on short questionnaires and even direct ordering.
So not only do chatbots act as invaluable customer support reps, but they can also operate in sales and boost conversion rates.”
5. Seamlessly blending online and offline channels for a better retail experience
Leveraging both online and offline channels is the key, says Slisha from Withclarity.
Slisha continues, “Online shopping is taking off in a big way. Namely, the convergence of online and offline shopping for Direct to Consumer brands is the hottest trend right now. A few years ago only about 10% of people shopped online for engagement rings. Now, this number has grown to over 14%.
This is because retailers for luxury goods are getting savvy about the online shopping experience. They are offering more personalized recommendations, targeted customer service and access to images and videos online that really help to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping.
The future of retail is seamlessly blending online and offline to create the best shopping experience. While it is stress-free to purchase a low-cost item online, it can be stress-inducing to purchase something that has a high dollar value and emotional value sight unseen online.
The best retailers will be able to offer an online experience that alleviates the concerns about purchasing something a consumer hasn't held in their hands. For instance, we offer a free at-home preview that allows a customer to see a highly realistic 3D printed ring.
Because we offer this service for free, customers gain confidence in our design and quality. This blend of online and offline that brings convenience to their doorstep goes a long way in blending the best of online and offline.”
6. Providing a unified omnichannel customer experience
Patsy from Talkative emphasizes how businesses today need to amalgamate relevant customer information across channels and use it to create a more context-driven customer experience.
Patsy adds, “Increasingly, your customers are using digital channels to interact with your brand. Not only this, but it is normal for people to switch across multiple channels within the same online journey, across multiple devices. Therefore, customers will naturally expect companies to extend this digital focus across all of their customer touchpoints- not only pre-sale, but post-sale too.
If this is not the case, the experience can become jarring for the customer, who will be used to interacting with your brand in a certain way and unable to continue doing so when their situation changes.
Offering customers digital support channels can ensure that their experience with your brand remains seamless. It also makes your brand more accessible and convenient. When customers are getting in touch for support, it’s usually at somewhat of an inconvenience for them.
If you only allow your customers to communicate with you through offline channels, this can limit their ability to contact you. For example, if you force customers to call your call center, they will have to wait for an appropriate time of the day or week to do so.
On the other hand, if you provide an online contact channel, like web chat, this allows customers to get the support they need at any time of day, anywhere. This can resolve the customer’s problem quicker, improving their overall experience with your brand.”
Over to you!
We all know the way businesses communicate with customers is evolving, especially as consumer preferences shift and new technologies become available. However, what's becoming increasingly apparent is the level of comfort customers feel when dealing with automated customer communications.
This just goes to show that businesses need to be more proactive in adopting state of the art communication systems such as live chat, chatbot, video and voice calling and the like.
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