In today’s day and age, the manner in which organisations deliver customer service is no longer determined by the decision makers. Instead, excellent customer service is determined by the customer.
The explosion of digital communications, new innovations and increased mobility is rapidly changing customer expectations. Business professionals that are responsible for improving the customer service experience are investing a lot of time to understand their customers and what they expect.
As customers better understand the new expectations and needs of their customers, many businesses have been forced to rethink the end-to-end business processes and deploy new technologies that meet customer expectations. This is also commonly referred to as the Age of the Customer, and when you consistently meet the customer’s needs, this is what constitutes as excellent customer service.
Regardless if you’re a start-up or an experienced operation, excellent customer service means staying on top of what you’re customers want. We have put together ten ways you can start to deliver excellent customer service according to today’s customer expectations.
1. Deliver Consistent Customer Service Across All Channels
Regardless of whether your client is dealing with you for the first time, or they are a returning customer, they still expect a consistent experience in any part of the sales process. This includes transactions, customer service, or researching other products. Consistent customer service, means that customers expect your business to understand their interactions and past purchases.
Customers expect a seamless experience when it comes to making an inquiry. If the inquiry starts as an SMS, the customer would expect to be able to complete it in another way. When businesses design the customer service experience, they must understand their customer’s preferred method of communication and then make that available for them. The preferred method of communication could be social media, your company website, in person, emailing a customer service advisor, or a mobile app, to name a just few.
Although the above scenario appears to be complex, most companies accomplish this by deploying the necessary technologies, which help to streamline customer service consistency across all platforms.
2. Increase Mobile Strategies for Customer Service
As mobiles are have become an integral part of our lives, businesses of all sizes are re-focusing their efforts on mobile marketing.
This means gravitating more towards mobile and away from the web presence to meet customer needs, which requires deploying the right technologies that add the most value to customers in a mobile environment. It also avoids the frustration of the traditional journey call, which requires you to press a lot of buttons on your phone. This article on Mobile Customer Service Trends provides a great explanation of how this is implemented.
3. Deploy a Customer Relationship Management Solution.
A Customer Relationship Management solution (also known as CRM) helps to standardise a customer service advisers
actions. A CRM solution can help to streamline the delivery of customer service, reduce training time, control costs, and ensure compliance with company policies and regulations. By using a CRM, you can focus on guiding staff through problem solving for customers and increase the focus on the end-to-end processes that may require involvement with typical back-end office tasks.
There are many different CRM applications on the market (including our own SharePoint-based CRM solution!), which meet specific business and technical requirements. If your business approves the use of this type of tool, it can significantly improve customer service and fulfill customer expectations for your specific industry.
4. Be pro-active.
Proactive experiences change the way your customers engage and relate to your business services by eliminating the space between problems and solutions, personalising the customer experience, and integrating information and services based on the circumstance. For example, customer behavior can be monitored as they interact with your products and services.
Many businesses use tracking to learn about customer behavior and the areas of your business that the user navigates to, in addition to the time spent on different pages. The data that is collected is combined with customer intelligence from analytics and other information systems you use.
This information helps you to create engaging experiences for the customer such as a special offers, video tutorials, or other experiences at the right time when the customer requires assistance. A researcher from Forrester has posted a great blog on increasing mobile engagement with proactive experiences.
5. Adopt a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Solution.
According to Forrester Research, 15% of businesses have already replaced their customer service applications on the premises with Software-as-a-Service. 24% of businesses have integrated SaaS with their existing customer service solutions. Almost 15 years after the introduction of SaaS with providers such as Salesforce.com and others, SaaS has significantly increased in popularity. During 2014, the adoption of SaaS is expected to exceed 50% with businesses using four different SaaS solution on the average.
SaaS offers many benefits to an organisation, one of which is improving customer service. SaaS solutions offer comprehensive tools that allow businesses to get to know their customers. The tools include analytics, purchase history, customer inquiries, purchase patterns, and other intuitive tools that provide useful information on your customers. Salesforce recently posted an article on their blog that summarises why SaaS is needed to meet customer requirements in the Age of the Customer.
6. Implement Predictive Analytics.
Many businesses have implemented technologies that are known as next-best-action, (NBA), to improve customer service and retention, increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and to personalise customer experiences. The best practices for NBA customer relationship management (CRM), include coordinating it with key business requirements,
NBA deployments have been used for a while now but are still evolving. Businesses use predictive analytics and other models to determine return on investment (ROI) across many different CRM roles including marketing, sales, customer service, and customer-facing channels. An interesting article on Big Data and Predictive Analytics for 2014, sheds some light on some of the ways it can be used to enhance customer service and your business as a whole.delivering it via channels that facilitate customer interaction, using highly targeted offers according to detailed
customer data, improving customer services practices using advanced analytics, and using it to personalise multi-channel conversations with customers.
7. Create Strategies for Customer Feedback.
Customer feedback is another way you can deliver excellent customer service. By asking for feedback from your customers, you will know exactly what they want and you can live up to their expectations. Many businesses are using
customer feedback across different platforms in the same way that they are delivering customer service across different
channels. This is also known as Customer Experience Management.
For example, businesses design customer feedback on specific channels that are preferred by the customer and then they act on it according to what the customer reveals. Then the feedback is directly connected with the customer service representatives to be used as a metric that measures the success of customer loyalty and retention. To help you develop some ideas, there is an article in Entrepreneur magazine on generating customer feedback online. These ideas can be applied to your customer channels and then into your Customer Experience Management solution.
8. Rethink the Customer Service advisors Workspace
In many businesses, customer service advisors are required to use multiple applications that do not integrate with one another during the course of a workday. This decreases customer service efficiency and results in lost opportunities and a frustrated customer base.
There is no need to use disconnected applications, when there are so many cost effective solutions that allow advisors to focus on solving customer problems and delivering excellent service. This is why many businesses are rethinking and simplifying staff workspace; by removing unnecessary elements and applications from computer screens, creating automated tasks with CRM solutions to increase productivity and efficiency, and making relevant information readily available to help personalise the customer service experience. Here is an article on how to use technology to improve staff productivity and performance.
9. Provide Reliable Data for Your Customer Service team.
Many businesses are unaware that customer service advisors must have the right data, at the right time in the customer service process to provide the correct answers to customer inquiries. High quality and reliable data is the result of established data quality and exceptional data governance practices.
Unfortunately for many businesses, data governance is not a priority for one reason or another. According to Forrester Research, during 2013 only 15% of organisations surveyed indicated their data governance maturity was highly developed. Since then more businesses have realised the important role data governance plays in providing excellent customer service. Information Management offers a helpful article on improving data governance for better customer service.
10. Learn How to Use and Leverage Knowledge Management
For most businesses, customer service advisors rely on tapping into knowledge management solutions to accurately and effectively provide answers to customer questions. Additionally, 67% of consumers use information on the Internet to locate answers to their questions, according to consumer research experts.
However, structured knowledge comes with several drawbacks. In most cases, the knowledge is often difficult to find, complex to update and maintain and, in some instances, is not relevant. As a result, an increasing number of businesses
are seeking ways to supplement the capability of knowledge management with content from other sources such as discussion forums and social media that is user generated.
Additionally, businesses are looking for solutions that make knowledge practices more responsive to enable knowledge to evolve according to customer demand. In terms of improving knowledge creation, businesses are using intuitive analytics programs in business management solutions such as Salesforce and others, to track and monitor the use of knowledge. This includes using social listening to stay on top of knowledge creation. There is a great resource known as KMWorld that specialises in serving the knowledge management market, in addition to content and document management. The website offers a wealth of informative materials on improving business performance. This includes best practices for effective knowledge management along with suggestions for using knowledge management software that is specifically designed to improve customer service.
Hopefully, the insight we have provided you with in this article will not only give you a place to start with offering excellent customer service, we also hope that it will bring you up to speed with some of the latest trends in customer service that address the needs of today’s consumer. The more you know about how businesses are striving to meet customer needs in the Age of the Customer, the better you can implement solutions and strategies that are industry-specific to your customers and your business.
About Our CRM.
Our CRM is a professional software development company. Located on the Epping Forest/East London border, we provide small business users across the UK with the original CRM software application for Microsoft SharePoint. What is CRM software?