Customers expect quality assistance in a professional and timely manner when they reach out to a call center. Many industries rely on their customer service team as the primary point of contact after a sale—as a result, clients see customer service as brand ambassadors who are expected to connect with the customer on every channel. This responsibility also comes with expectations for retention and upsells, follow-ups, and the ever-present pressure to reduce costs.
The expectations are high!
While there’s no magic bullet to solve all of these challenges, offering your very best customer service experience is the only way to meet these expectations.
Simply put: A seamless experience across channels leads to happy customers. Happy customers mean less volume for customer service channels, which means a lower cost to resolve customer issues.
Sounds great, right! But how do you start? We’d like to offer a few suggestions on how you can provide a consistent customer experience across all channels, including in-person, phone, web, mobile, and even print.
What is customer service experience?
Great customer service is measured by how the customer perceives they’re being treated, most commonly measured by CSAT scores. When you go above and beyond what’s expected to please a customer, then you’re on the right path to delivering great customer satisfaction.
What “above and beyond” entails is really part of your brand’s culture. If you’re a customer-centric business or brand, one that prioritizes customer satisfaction, then your team members are constantly asking, “What can we do to make the experience with us better?” A few basic tips to satisfy your customers’ needs include:
- Response times should be quick. Even if it’s automated, a quick response provides peace of mind for the customer that their message has been received and their problem is being handled.
- Offer multiple ways to reach out. Based on the customer’s preferences, allow them to enter communication anywhere in their journey so they can communicate with your company how and when is most convenient for them.
- Monitor your social channels and respond to customers there. Even a negative comment on social can create brand advocates if handled appropriately. Often, the way a company handles an issue on their social channels can ultimately win over passive observers, as well as resolve the customer’s problem.
Offering an excellent customer service experience doesn’t just involve your customers. Your CX teams have to be in alignment with your mission. Try not to silo your sales, marketing, and customer service teams. Give them opportunities to meet, collaborate, and share experiences. Together, they’re more likely to find problem-solving solutions to common issues and aid the company in a better customer experience over time.
Seek out better engagement with C-suite executives to champion the cause when developing your customer experience strategy. Get their help to clearly communicate the company’s expectations for customer care to all employees. They set the tone to let all employees know how valued their customers are and their expectations that those customers’ concerns be handled promptly and with respect.
Why is customer service important?
Customer service and the customer experience directly correlate with customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, and, eventually, bottom-line revenue growth. According to a survey by InfoQuest, customers who are completely satisfied contribute 14 times as much revenue as dissatisfied customers.
Word of mouth from satisfied customers is extremely important. WOM marketing “drives $6 trillion in annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales” which is why you want satisfied customers talking about your brand or business—that’s the entire concept behind measuring NPS.
Be different, and differentiate your brand as a customer experience leader. Companies that prioritize customer experience and go the extra mile for their customers show a total cumulative return that is as much as 3.4 times greater than laggards in CX.
And don’t leave your teams out of the mix! Provide consistent, quality education and resources for your customer service teams. This allows them to offer a consistent experience across your entire company and helps the customer receive the answers they need in a polite, effective manner.
Paths to a great customer service experience
No one likes to explain their problems ad nauseam. It’s not only frustrating, but when a customer has to relive a source of discomfort over and over again, added stress is created that can result in a larger problem. Offering centralized records for your customer service reps can work to eliminate the need for clients to re-explain. Customers will notice—two out of three customers report that repeating themselves to customer service representatives is one of the most frustrating aspects of the customer experience.
Another path to a great customer experience is empathy—know who your customer is, what they need, and how to solve their problem. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and travel alongside them in their journey with your brand or business. According to Nielsen, “The keys to success for the foreseeable future will center on empathy, authenticity and putting the consumer at the center of the equation unlike never before.”
One key to empathy? Understanding where your customer is coming from. Analyzing and tracking their path from a digital experience to a voice experience with a customer service representative will give your agents the information they need to instantly empathize and treat the customer’s problem.
In addition, offering a best-in-class callback service can create positive customer experiences that better fit the customer’s schedule and shows that the company understands that their time is valuable.
How to build a great customer service experience mentality at your company
If you want to go tforo a customer-centric ideology, empathy shouldn’t be your only driver. You have to look at the totality of the experience and make improvements in key areas.
Support automation with human interaction to show customer appreciation.
Using automation to reduce call center costs and improve customer satisfaction is a solid strategy, but you have to make sure that the same automation doesn’t devolve the customer experience. Always have the option to go from an automated solution to a live agent to ensure that the customer feels appreciated, respected, and heard.
Strengthen your omnichannel—because the customer expects it.
The customer’s experience will not begin and end with customer support, so expand the service channel beyond the support team. Make sure your marketing, IT, sales, advertising, and even design teams buy into the entire customer experience. Huddle to discuss where improvements can be made across all channels to bring more delight to your customer’s experience.
For instance, when claims are made about a product or service, marketing needs to hold up to the hype. Simply put, don’t make promises you can’t keep about pricing, service, hold times, etc. This will only create a headache for the customer service team and, ultimately, damage your brand.
Pro tip: Use a real-time voice of customer solution like Survey Dynamix to monitor when a product promise or process isn’t quite up to snuff. Send feedback directly (and instantly) from the customer to a Slack or Teams channel that can inform contact center operators, product managers, marketing mangers, and designers where the problems are so they can be fixed for all future customers.
Empower your employees to promote inclusivity and learn from different viewpoints.
Seek employee feedback when digging into customer experience feedback and data.
Your call center support agents know more about the customer than most and should be part of every customer service strategy meeting—but your marketing associates, copywriters, and others will have great suggestions as well. When trying to map out a customer journey, use the input from every person who has a touchpoint with your customer. This will give you a much more substantial understanding of the customer experience than just your CSAT scores.
You can also ask the CX teams to seek out and share good examples of customer experiences on social media and promote them on your website.
Learn from your data to keep everyone on track with the customer journey.
Keep track of customers’ complaints via your communication channels, and then bring them to the attention of internal stakeholders and work together to resolve the frequent offenders. Some of the easiest fixes go unresolved because no one is tracking the simple solution and documenting it for permanent correction.
Examples of good customer service experience
Digital transformation for most businesses was accelerated during the pandemic, and only brands or companies that rushed to meet their customers’ expectations saw growth, with leaders in digital transformation outpacing laggards by 4x. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the pandemic to wreak havoc on the dining experience, McDonald’s upgraded their customer experience by redesigning interiors, installing new self-serve kiosks and table service (which reduced wait times for customers), and trimming down their menu based on customer feedback. As a result, McDonald’s beat sales growth projections.
Adidas has also leaned heavily on the customer feedback front and provided a very important customer experience. Hearing about the concern customers had over sustainability, the company began producing shoes from ocean waste and sold over 1 million pairs in just one year. They state on their website, “As we continue to address our overall carbon footprint, we’re shifting to use 100% recycled polyester in our products by 2024.”
Coca-Cola is another company that turned toward their consumers by adding customer personalization to their product line. The ubiquitous Coca-Cola naming campaign, where popular names were added to Coke products, resulted in the brand selling more than 250 million named bottles and cans in Australia alone (where the campaign had its roots), a nation of just under 23 million people. The worldwide campaign reached over 70 countries at one point.
The days of expecting customer support to shoulder the responsibility for consumer expectations are in the past. A diversified, extensive, and detailed acknowledgment of the customer experience is one that has to be taken up by your entire company or brand.
A great customer experience doesn’t live and die on the doorstep of your agents. Customers want more, they expect more, and you should deliver more to increase their satisfaction and your revenue.
This post was originally published in June 2017 and has since been updated.