To survive and stay competitive in today’s customer-driven economy, organisations can’t just deliver a great customer service anymore. They need to look for every opportunity to increase the value of each interaction, whether that’s to increase the sale value or reduce operating costs.
But how can you do that?
If your customers are looking to buy your products, they will typically look at three factors;
- product choice
If you offer products that competitors can also provide, then even before they visit your website, price comparison engines will probably already have told consumers whether you are competitive on price and if you have the product they’re looking for. This leaves service as the differentiator.
Clearly customer service can influence someone’s decision whether to buy or not, particularly when it comes to repeat purchase and also becoming a positive or negative ambassador for the brand. A recent study 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer by American Express found:
- 74% consumers say they have spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service experiences.
- 68% of consumers state that they are willing to spend more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service, on average they are willing to spend 14% more.
- When it comes to poor customer service experiences, nearly all (95%) consumers talk about them, with 60% reporting that they talk about these experiences all of the time.
- 93% of consumers talk about their good customer service experiences, at least some of the time. 46% tell someone about them all of the time.
Consider the customer experience as a seed which can grow in two directions, through both lost and loyal customers.
So how can you make that all important difference to the service you provide to your customers?
1. Focus on the point of conversion
If a visitor has clicked on your ‘Add to shopping cart’ or ‘Order now’ button, they’ve more or less made up their mind to buy, although there are still hurdles that could get in the way of a successful purchase.
However, what about those consumers who walk away without clicking that all important button? What more can you do?
Focus on the product pages. Customers will make their final buying decision here. They’ll look for information about the product, accessories, delivery times, costs and customer reviews.
An example of a well thought out product page is loaf.com
On left-hand side there are clear icons for ‘at a glance’, more product info, delivery, returns and customer reviews (very important). This means you can quickly get to the bits you need.
They have also clearly thought of the major pain points when ordering large items – such as ‘will it fit?’, but offering a downloadable guide.
Plus the all-important delivery service levels – waiting in, assembly and mess.
Loaf makes it easy for customers to navigate and find out extra pieces of information very easily from the main product page, with additional links to FAQ’s, methods to get in touch, ordering a brochure or free swatches.
In particular introducing a FAQs section on your product pages or website is a good idea to promote a readily available self-service option.
FAQ’s can help to avoid more expensive cost-to-serve queries through other channels, such as a customer sending an email or picking up the phone.
Tip: If you have customers registered with you, do a survey of those who aborted the final step. Ask key questions to give you a better understanding of the customer’s process. What factors were involved? Would it have helped to be able to click to be put through to a live agent there and then? A click-to-call option could be generated from your system, or they can call a dedicated sales hotline with a reference number and be put through to an agent.
Alternatively, live chat is increasingly popular as a customer service channel since it’s an instant source you can access to solve issues immediately. However, as with any customer services solution it is important you can deliver against expectations.
2. Look at where you’re forcing customers to switch channels
If you have implemented separate systems to deal with each channel, you are immediately at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding your customers’ channel activities.
Often customers choose one channel when they’ve not been able to get the service they want on their first choice. In Microsoft’s recent 2015 U.K. State of Multichannel Customer Service study the majority of UK consumers typically use four channels to interact with a company (telephony, email, web chat and social media).
This choice will be driven partly by convenience and device, but there’s an argument to say that lack of resolution on one channel will drive consumers to try others.
This leads to more frustration for the customer, which is why any company should solve the issue as quickly and effectively as possible.
Although social media is another form of communication, it’s also the most public and therefore potentially damaging to a company’s reputation, especially if there are poor levels of customer service on this channel.
Tip: A useful exercise is to analyse your customers’ channel activity and map trends.
We have seen some clients with noticeable increases in email activity when their telephone agents are busy, and this usually corresponds to spikes in abandon rates in the call queues. On the other hand, we’ve also been able to demonstrate the opposite effect with abandoned shopping carts and a subsequent increase in inbound call volumes.
Where clients are able to provide channel-specific customer details, you should be cross-referencing data such as phone numbers, transaction references, email addresses and social media usernames to build up a time-specific picture of cross-channel activity. It is often worth revisiting your customer journey mapping and identify factors that are causing your customers to change channel.
3. Help customers choose the most appropriate channel
Investigate where and how you can pre-qualify customers to segment them – we go into more detail in our blog are you making the most of your customer information? The key message in this approach is to understand the following for any contact channel:
- Who is trying to contact you (customer identification)?
- Why are they trying to contact you (destination, service or product choice)?
- What do you know about them from your customer records (purchase/interaction history, contact preferences)?
- Where should you direct their interaction (human, self-service)?
- When should you deal with their interaction (prioritisation and service levels)?
4. Choose which customers you allow to talk to your agents
Intelligent routing can make a big difference to both customer satisfaction and reducing costs. For example:
- Adopt a system that allows you to check the customers calling history before deciding how to treat their call – for example routing calls to a more specialist ‘retentions’ agent where appropriate.
- You can also monitor ‘chronic callers’. You can set parameters which can take into account pre-defined factors such as how many times they have called, which department and so on.
- Use customer data such as account status, purchase history and lifetime value. This plays a key role in helping you decide whether to initially direct to an agent. If customers are costing you more money to serve, it may be better to encourage them to use self-service on the telephone or your website, or even auto reply to emails from them.
5. Make channel transitions seamless
Seamless communication will allow your agents to deliver better levels of customer service and will also have a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Inevitably, there will always be times when customers change channels in the process of buying from you, or getting their query answered. When this happens, increase the chances of a sale or loyal customer by removing the barriers to customer frustration:
- How well do you understand your customers’ cross-channel journeys? Customer journey mapping can help you identify when and where your customers experience frustrations or barriers to purchase.
- Help them switch channels by not forcing them to repeat information that they have either already provided or that you already know about them.
- If they call and you know what products they browsed on your website in say the last 48 hours, offer them the choice to speak to an agent with these product skills.
- If they recently sent you an email and they call in, show you are aware of this interaction by offering the choice to speak to someone about their recent email. Then route their call to a multi-media agent.
- How well do you provide click-to-call support? If your customers do have to pick up the phone after browsing, make sure they are not being forced into IVRs and long wait times before speaking to an agent who doesn’t have visibility of their preceding on-line journey.
E-Care at Digital Works Consulting
The DWC E-Care practice love helping clients deliver stand-out customer service. We can help you:
- Use service as a key differentiator
- Make your customer interactions more profitable
- Optimise your end-to-end multi-channel customer experience
- To make sure your customer care environment is fully aligned to the growing multi-channel needs of your customers of today and tomorrow
Talk to us about your customer service challenges
For more information contact
Steve Brady on + 44 7572 799055,
email him by clicking here