Tag Archives: Customer Experience

Cultivate a Customer-Centric Culture

As organizations become more customer-centric, a culture that fosters the best experience for both parties is key to success. But what does it take? Experts have been scratching their heads ever since this aspect of marketing gained precedence over all other aspects in terms of importance and priority–how can you cultivate an environment where employees are inspired by your company’s values so they can provide stellar service day after day without fail? 

As part of my job as Director of Client Support at Q4 and similar roles within other organizations, I’ve had the opportunity to directly influence this within my services and support team and I’ve learned some secrets along the way which I think you might find valuable.

So what’s the magic formula? Let me start off by saying it’s not some hyper-complicated system. You don’t need to be a marketing specialist or an expensive consultant to achieve this. It doesn’t require a restructuring of your company or the hiring of massive teams of people. 

It can get you tremendously far if you just do one thing–and it starts with getting closer to the client within your immediate circle of influence, whether that be colleagues, agents under your supervision, or support desk staff whose responsibility is directly related to the client satisfaction.

As I’ve said before, it’s not always about the new customer. If your goal is to build a sustainable business, your primary focus needs to be on nurturing existing relationships and making sure you treat every client like THEIR satisfaction is the most important thing in the world (because it really IS).

Being closer to clients won’t offer any considerable new business that isn’t already on your current radar–because they’re usually yours for a reason! Being effective at developing new business opportunities comes with time, but there are things you can do today that will ensure better loyalty and retention rates for tomorrow.

Your clients are your babies…because, without them, you don’t have a business. That means taking care of them should be at the top of your priority list every single day. Here are a few things you can do NOW if you want to offer better customer service:

Define Your Mission

You need to know about the destination so that you can plan for the journey. You can refer to your established CX mission as the cultural bible because it is super important. This mission statement will be your light in the tunnel- guiding you and helping you devise the right actions and behaviors to reach your goal.

Without this defined goal, you will certainly be lost. 

Communication is the Key

There is no such thing as over-communication when it comes to manifesting the desired customer-centric culture. If the communication channel is blocked somewhere the messages, or data is not being delivered across all the floor, to the respective departments, you can expect to be in a real conundrum.

There is no wrong or correct way to communicate- just make sure you are articulate, you are consistent, and are engaging constantly without being annoying. It is imperative to maintain a degree of fun so that it does not become a boring work chore that employees often ignore.  

Educate and Preach Your Staff

Who is going to implement the culture? Your people, your staff.

No matter how professionally you design your management style to advocate for customer-centricity, you still would not be able to foster a whole culture without properly educating and training your staff. When it comes to cultivating a whole new culture, you need to make sure that everybody in the organization understands the purpose of the change and supports it.

A great CX professional must be able to inspire and educate all working levels to focus greatly on the customer.   

Hire a Good Cultural Fit

The recruitment process is also a determinant of how fast your organization will adapt to the new culture and champion it for the coming years. Effective recruitment strategies will help you attract people who understand the norms and cultural standards established in your workplace. They will support your organization’s vision and filter those people out who may be technically qualified by their purpose does not align with the spirit of your organization.

Reframe your job description and emphasize more on people skills; do not give the impression that you prioritize task-oriented behavior over the attitude and expectations of your employees. Advertise your culture and reflect it in your interaction with the applicants. 

Keep Customers in the Loop

Since your whole effort is directed towards improving customer relations and understanding customers’ perceptions, you must involve customers as much as you can.

Set up customer focus groups, keep them updated on the changes you are about to introduce in your organization. This will help you understand how they perceive risk and reward.

For example, if you are introducing a new and unique product and the customers feel there is some component of risk involved in buying your product, let them know that they can return the product anytime if it fails to meet their expectations.

This will improve customer relations as well as enhance employee satisfaction as employees believe that management has considered their concerns before introducing any changes.

Increase Employee Satisfaction

A happy employee who is satisfied with his or her job also helps in building better relationships with the customers because the customer’s problem becomes an employee’s problem too. This kind of understanding between employees and management increases motivation among workers which enables them to contribute further towards improving productivity levels.

As far as possible, reduce conflicts between departments instead of allowing them to escalate into conflicts between managers.

Employee satisfaction is not about paying more or less but providing employees the opportunity to perform their duties without any interference. When employees are satisfied with their job, they are able to complete it efficiently which helps in making good profits for the company.

No matter how you are rewarding your employees – and whether the rewards are intrinsic or tangible – you must ensure that you are recognizing the efforts and achievements of your employees. Intrinsic awards have a more lasting impact on employees as it particularly acknowledges a group’s way of working. Tolerating risk and imposing penalties can also help keep culture aligned with practices.

Offering incentives, prizes, deserved promotions, acknowledgments, and praises converge towards employee motivation and hence contribute to greater service results. 

Keeping all these things in mind shall help you build a happy and satisfied workforce that will lead your company towards growth.

Leaders Must Lead

The power of leadership is so significant that it can shift the entire course of the functionality of an organization. Altering a culture that is deep-rooted in a workspace can be a hell of an exhausting challenge. So, only people who are capable and have a strong heart must be up for it.

Visible and active involvement by executives and senior leaders is integral in the strategic building of a customer-centric culture. Everyone is responsible for fostering a new culture but ensuring that the roles are conducted with more vigor and clarity is solely the job of the leaders.

From prioritizing resources to incorporating customer experience metrics into decisional reforms, is all part of the job description. 

Wrapping it Up

Businesses are offering a merely different version of the same product to their audiences. Winning at customer services is the competitive edge that can separate them from the noise. A prevalent customer-centric culture in an organization is the rock and stones that form a robust foundation of a compelling customer experience.

If you cultivate the right values and inculcate the correct sense of customer-centricity in your organization, you will reap your rewards in the form of consistent profitability, increased sales, and higher customer retention.

Customers these days have an insane amount of power and a comprehensive set of choices; you have to devise appropriate strategies to trigger a continual impact. CX programs fail all the time, but an improved disciplined approach to serving your customers can help you build a strong customer relationship.

So, change behaviors to change the culture!  

7 Ways to Guarantee Your Team Will Be Highly Engaged

Highly engaged teams are the gold standard of business success. The advantages are numerous and varied, including greater sales and profits, decreased expenses, fewer sick days, and fewer defects. All of which have a significant influence on your company’s bottom line.

Unfortunately, far too many businesses are unwilling to provide adequate resources for fostering highly engaged teams, yet developing highly engaged teams does not need much more work and the return on investment is worth it. Here are seven easy methods to increase your income by enhancing team engagement.

Step 1: Make it easy to understand.

The one thing that always surprises me is how many initiatives and departments I am involved with turning around that lack a clear goal. How can people possibly be engaged, much alone be highly engaged, if they do not understand the goals and objectives?

The clarity of direction and a clear understanding of what success looks like are required for teams. This implies your company cannot have too many objectives since when everything is a priority, nothing is prioritized, and your employees don’t know where to focus.

 Step 2: Allow them enough space.

High-performing teams require a lot of freedom in order to succeed. When your teams have the tools they need to succeed, the greatest thing you can do is get out of their way and let them succeed. Micromanagement is one of the most disempowering things I’ve ever seen; it destroys trust and confidence at an alarming rate. It indicates a lack of confidence, which is critical for any success. It doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t check up on them from time to time; instead, do it depending on the length of the project. 

Step 3: Create a secure environment

People are more likely to take risks and try new things when they feel secure in their surroundings. To encourage this behavior, you must first establish a safe environment in which mistakes are accepted and anticipated. It doesn’t imply that people are free to do whatever they want; rather, it encourages them to make intelligent risks where the probability of success is high and the consequences of failure are minimal.

Step 4: Allow them to be successful.

While engagement is wonderful, even the most enthusiastic employees will become dissatisfied, irritated, and demotivated if they don’t have the tools to succeed. Check to see if your teams have everything they need to be successful, and if they don’t, give it to them or change the goal or objective. Humans are afraid of hard work rather than failure; as leaders, it’s our duty to place them in a position where success is possible.

Step 5: Make your objectives seem desirable.

Tell your teams what’s in it for them and how they will benefit if you can’t make your objectives aspirational. When asked to define their company’s purpose, leaders who are committed to the long-term future of their organization have a lot more to say than those who aren’t.

The greater the cause you can attach to your goals, the more engaged your people will be.

It might be due to working for a more powerful, more resilient organization that will develop and provide greater possibilities in the future. If it’s just about making your investors richer unless they’re shareholders as well, no one will be really engaged.

Step 6: Give assistance.

Let your staff know that you’re available if they need assistance. They should feel safe asking for your help, and just knowing it is there will increase their confidence. Perhaps they won’t utilize it; but just having it there will assist them a lot.

Step 7: Reward them for their efforts.

One of the keys to encouraging continuous performance improvement is to offer praise and recognition. What gets recognized tends to be repeated, and when we notice highly engaged teams and give them positive feedback, this encourages them to stay engaged and become even more so.

When individuals believe that their efforts are acknowledged, they tend to have a greater sense of momentum and motivation. Also, keep in mind that appreciation begins at the bottom with actions rather than waiting for people to achieve success before telling them you appreciate them.

If you follow these seven easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to forming highly engaged teams that will significantly raise the quality and quantity of your outputs, as well as provide a path to improved profitability, expansion, and customer satisfaction.

9 Crucial Metrics to Measure Customer Support Team Performance

Have you ever had a bad-tasting dish that caused you an aversion to that food altogether? But quite often, you can’t put your finger on that one ingredient that ruined the taste of the whole dish. It becomes nearly impossible to figure out what caused that food aversion. 

Just like that, a well-set plate of an exquisite-looking dish cannot be credited as delectable if all ingredients don’t compliment each other well. Even if one of them is bad tasting, the customer will lose his appetite for the dish. Your Customer Support (CS) team is just like that. All of the individual ingredients must be flavorful so that, in the end, a delicious dish could be presented. 

But don’t worry! There are several metrics to measure your team and assess the overall performance of everyone in the team. You can detect where there’s a need for improvement or which individual is putting in a complete effort and is dedicated to offering exceptional customer service. 

But first, you must create certain standards by employing performance metrics. So, take the help of the following nine metrics to measure customer support team performance and then enhance it to make your customers’ experience a memorable one. 

Average Resolution Time

One method of evaluating how well the customer service representatives are performing is to record the average time it takes for them to resolve a customer complaint permanently. 

This is an accurate measure of productivity, as this metric determines whether the agent is good at resolving customer complaints and can deal with them quicker rather than building on to the problem and dragging it for longer. 

Just follow this formula to reckon the Average Resolution Time (ART)

ART = (Total Reply Time) / (Total Number of Requests)  

The volume of Requests Handled

First, you would want to know the total of some of the requests that were addressed to your agents in a given period. This way, you can assess the workload and work performance of the organization itself. Sadly, its very rare for clients to call to simply say how good everything is, rather, they call when they have an issue or complaint that needs to be addressed so having an idea of the volume of calls being handled by each agent is critical in resource planning.

So, to appraise the performance of the customer service agents, you must keep track of how many requests are correctly addressed and how productive your agents have been. The higher this number, the more efficient and diligent your agents will be. 

Conversation Reply Speed

Ask yourself this question: after how long did my agent respond to the follow-up questions raised by the customer? The speed at which the customer service representative responds to any sequential concerns presented by the customer after the initial response determines the productivity and performance of the agent. 

If you take too long to respond, the customer would get annoyed and probably leave a bad review or would no longer engage in business with you. 

Requests escalated to Higher-Ups.

This is an important metric that you keep track of. If a request is escalated to a superior, then it means that the agent has failed to address the concerns of the customer. You may believe that this is the endpoint that every customer service agent should dread and avoid at all costs. 

So, this metric precisely determines if a representative is good at his job or not. The higher the number of these requests, the more probable it is that the agent isn’t qualified or competent enough to cater to customers’ requests or needs. 

Number of Complaints Regarding a Customer Service Representative

It is highly likely that a single individual is unable to entertain the concern of customers. Some people are just not naturally drawn towards resolving customers’ issues, and this can gravely affect their performance. Look to your customer satisfaction surveys for this information and then make a plan.

So, by evaluating this metric, you can judge whether an individual is cut out for this job and is he/she is able to address customers’ issues properly or not. 

Time Taken to Offer Initial Response

If you aim to offer the best customer service, you must keep a meticulous record of your initial response time. The higher this number goes, the more irritated the customers will get. 

Representatives must be on their toes when it comes to addressing customers’ concerns. The customers must be instantly put through to the right person or the respective department through tools like skill-based routing, so they don’t have to wait unnecessarily. 

Customer Service Rating

This metric is the best indicator of how well your individual customer rep’s performance has been. This number shows how the customers viewed and marked the performance of the agent. This rating can be garnered by customer feedback, comments, or the star rating. 

Sales made after Contact

The objective of the customer service team should be to address customers’ concerns so they are satisfied with the product or service and continue to increase the sales of the organization. 

So, if the agents are performing well, or are providing related cross-sells or upsells of the product, then the sales would increase, and more revenue will be generated. So, this metric takes effective customer service as a determinant that affects sales. Consider these sales as a good indicator or tool to measure your customer success team.

Rate of Successful Resolutions

This rate is a major defining factor in the performance of each customer service agent. This rate shows how well individuals have performed and how successful they have been in resolving customer complaints and issues. Having an agent who doesn’t handle many requests but has a significantly high successful resolution rate is worth having in the team. 

You can calculate it by employing the formula:

Resolution Rate= (Resolved requests) / (Support Requests) 

Conclusion 

You can only deliver exceptional customer service if you know exactly what your customers are expecting from you, and you don’t have to be a mind-reader for that. Stay close to your customers and make them feel heard and valued. Just track the above-mentioned metrics periodically, and this way, you’d be able to appraise the performance of your customer service agents and the experience offered to your customers. 

How Angry Customers Can Help Your Business

A successfully run business and unhappy clients are inherently indivisible. This may shock you but if there are several complaints piled up at your customer services’ desks, then this may just be a fortunate stroke of serendipity for you! Everything has its pros and cons and angry customers can help your business if you are willing to see the other side of the picture.

No matter how dutiful and dedicated you are, negative responses will always exceed the positive feedback you and your teams receive. Customers are more inclined towards highlighting your minor incompetencies than admiring and praising your stellar services. Inbox inundated with emails, voice mail flooded with customer complaints, and even face to face disapproval and objection on your services are a few aspects that come as a package deal with your business. It may seem chaotic and disadvantageous to the optimum functionality of your business, but angry customers can actually help you a lot.

Don’t Want Angry Customers?

Avoiding unhappy customers is not really a possibility, but reducing their number is quite likely if you act rationally and strategically.

If you are available for your customers and can give them your undivided attention and uninterrupted time, then it will do wonders for your customer service and business’s marketing. This will be worth the dollars that they are expending on your business.  

Reach out to your customers regularly and develop an amicable relationship with, but don’t compromise in professionalism. Try to resolve their issues at your earliest convenience and assure them that you will devote yourself to their service.

Utilize tools like social media platforms to connect with customers outside the boundaries of business and take an interest in their likes and dislikes. This will minimize the disparity between the customer’s expectations and what you are delivering and offering.

Make sure you maintain a balance in this critical relationship. Just to please the customers you cannot make unachievable promises that will disappoint the customers greatly when not fulfilled. It is always smarter to over-deliver than to over-promise.

How Should You Handle and Respond to Customer Complaints?

Let’s explore how you can effectively deal with angry customers and please them:

Keep Calm:

If the customer starts yelling or transcends the boundaries of professionalism and respect, make sure you remain calm and don’t respond in a similar attitude. Your aim should be to eliminate the element of hostility and animosity amongst each other.

Emphasize on Why:

As a worker, your initial instinct would be to get defensive and delve into a realm of denial. You probably wouldn’t digest the fact that there is an issue or inadequacy on your part. But this is the defining moment of the whole process that can either salvage your relationship with the customer of completely dissolve it.

Make sure you identify the root cause and investigate why there was an issue in the first place. This overarching question will solve half of your problem and you can begin taking indispensable actions.

Sympathize and Listen Keenly:

The basic skill of active listening can save you a lot of trouble in this challenging time. The reflective listening approach can also be very beneficial if exercised in this regard. This practice urges you to closely understand the context of what the customer is conveying and interpret his words to derive a meaning out of them. Then you must respond by reflecting on what you have garnered and felt through all that customers mentioned and complained about.

Don’t Take it to Heart:

Make a mental note that anger is natural and kind of inevitable in this case. Not all customers are going to be completely satisfied with your product and services. Some might find them obnoxious to have genuine complaints. The customers don’t bear any malice against you, they are just displeased, so, don’t take it personally.

Acknowledge the Issue and Take Required Actions:

Take sufficient time to probe the issue and then think of ways how can you rectify the mistake or issue faced by the customer. Correct the situation yourself, if you believe it falls under your expertise, otherwise consult someone proficient in this discipline. Make sure you consult the customer and consider their opinion. 

Apologize When Needed:

Whether you believe that the complaint is legitimate or a bogus claim, you have to treat it with utmost concern and respect. You must apologize decently and show that you genuinely care about them.

Are Unhappy Customers Really Beneficial For Your Business?

If a customer took time out to express their disappointment or anger towards your products or services, then it means that you matter to them and they want to continue to engage in business with you. So, this is good news for you!

If you ignore the complaint or provide weak and subpar customer service, then you are opening the door for customers and are compelling them to leave. So, this is a major NO for you.

Make sure that the customer feels heard and acknowledged. If you provide attention and grant special treatment to customers, they will feel valued and respected. This will keep them riveted to your business and they will remain your loyal customers.

Encourage customers to share their feedback and mention if they felt like the issue was dealt with concern and competence. Keep a documented record of the feedback and ensure that the customers are satisfied after their issue has been resolved.

The best business isn’t the one with the least number of unhappy clients; it is the business with the greatest number of clients who were angry at first but their complaints were resolved efficiently and they were satisfied.

Conclusion:

All of this may seem like a lot of tedious work and effort but once you get a hold of this strategy you will turn all the frowns into smiling faces in no time. They are your customers and a complaint means that they had expectations from you.

Turn this trust to your benefit and prove to the customers that they matter to you. If you play your cards right and incorporate the above-discussed tips and tools to build a strong customer relationship, you will grow into a family from a business!

 

Top 5 CX Blog Posts from July 2020

So here we are again; in the middle of a new month, ready to evaluate the best customer service blog posts available on the internet. In the quarantine edition of this article, I will entertain you with successful customer experiences stories and the strategies appointed by major companies to modernize and overhaul their online customer service.

Like June’s post for the series, I have garnered the top five articles and provided a succinct edition of them so you can get a clear concept of what those blog posts pertain to. As July was another month that descended into a quarantine timeline, the patterns of customer service had its ups and downs. Let’s move forward to gander at the brief analysis of the top 5 CX blog posts in July 2020!

If you want to check out the whole version, click on the links and you will be directed to the official post.

1.   How Can You Resolve Customer Complaints?

Gregory Ciotti rightly pointed out in his blog post how we can establish a stronger relationship with the customers after we have resolved their issues or complaints. This ignites their faith in the employees and they can assess the employees’ attitude towards addressing their respective concerns.

Complaints usually arise because the customer’s expectations are not met by what you deliver. Sometimes, their inaccurate assumptions supersede their opinion of you and they are not satiated by your work performance. You may also leave room for accepting any mistake or inadvertent display of incompetence at your part.

However, Gregory explicitly discussed ways in which you could handle such customer complaints and optimize your work performance and feedback to maximize the customer’s utility. The task may seem debilitating but if you follow his guidelines, you are good to go!

Engage in a detailed conversation to find out where the problem stemmed from and ask inquisitive questions to learn more about the issue. It is imperative to identify the kind of customer you are handling, as this will give you a lucid insight into how to proceed with the matter.

He also laid great emphasis on how you should resolve the matter at your earliest convenience, rather than make it a priority. He explained how you can deal with any negative feedback and criticism regarding your response by remaining steadfast and polite.

This post guides you and educates you regarding handling customer complaints, so if any bad customer experience is hovering over you, make sure your read this post and find a way to salvage your relationship with the customer. Good Luck!

2.   Are you Oblivious to Terrible Customer Experience as an Executive?

Faith Adams is a senior analyst who spoke the heart out of customers who believed that the executives and workers would never relate to bad customer experiences. The focal concept of her post was the disconnect witnessed between the customer’s expectations and the ineptness of employees.

She explained her terrible experience with online appliance purchases. It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the market dynamics globally and it will take time to adjust with this “first-time” experience. However, corporations should make a sincere effort to cater to the customer’s needs.

She illustrated how her items were never shipped and delivered, she did not receive a refund and the customer service proved to be inadequate and incompetent. She responded to many surveys and questionnaires; however, her efforts and struggles were all vain.

This experience instigated a desire in her; to change the customer service system. She questioned the thinking of executives and their perspective if they ever had to witness such an awful experience. And then she was determined to empower the customers and hold employees accountable for any negligence on their behalf.

She invited executives from all companies and recorded their responses to such customer service and their terrible experiences with CX. She believes it is time to evolve now and rise beyond the meaningless laurels of appreciation. I completely agree with her and suggest you all treat your customers with the utmost respect and regard.

3.   Rescuers at Your Doorsteps!

The prevailing global pandemic has halted many markets’ functionality and has compelled workers to shut themselves in their houses. The scare of COVID-19 has been surpassed by difficulties in continuing to work from home and earning a decent living just by a sitting confined in a room with hours eyes fixated on a laptop, hours on end.

Vasupradha Srinivasan brought the efforts and dedication of service providers to light. She praised their struggle to go out of the way and ensure the maximum satisfaction of their customers. They lubricated the process of working from home without any major inconvenience.

The service providers accommodated their agents, provided sufficient equipment, and granted their customers access to secure internet connections.

Head over to the official post to read more about the generosity and devotion to the work of these superstars!

4.   Can You as a Marketer, Read Customer’s Mind?

Have you noticed how the digital age of marketing has completely altered the way a marketer accesses information regarding their customers? Have you kept yourself updated with modern marketeering tactics that ensure the services you provide remain remarkable by following the digital traces that their customers leave behind? If no, then this blog post is a must-read for you!

Ultimately, it all comes down to the Customer Experience; whether you’ve kept them satisfied with your product upgrades or not, or whether they have had unsatisfactory experiences with other of their purchases.

To cater to such complications, Annette Franz encapsulated her insights on three vital components:

 Customers

Contrary to the popular belief, customer experience extends way beyond the negotiations between the brand organizations and the customers and just their professional relationship. To understand the perspective of your customers you must comprehend their type and develop a personalized relationship with them.

Technology

The new media age and advanced technology have made it easier for marketers to engage in a fruitful relationship with customers. The technology makes it effortless for the marketers to approach the right customers and the analytical tools can help you to make informed decisions regarding investing in customer service.

Data

To earn customers respect you must keep their expectations high and fulfill them. Make sure you have collected all essential statistical data that is obtained through thorough research, questionnaires, and surveys to deliver a personalized experience that cannot be matched by any of your rivals.

In today’s digital world, you are deprived of the live interaction with the customers but you can compensate for this by providing engaging and consistent customer service.

5.   Where Does CX Fall on Your Priority List?

If you can’t master the art of prioritization, you will probably fail at making any vital decision that pertains to the functioning and future of your company. If you want to play it safe and make fruitful bets on your customer service, make sure you are equipped with the apt skills. But all of this is futile if you don’t prioritize giving customers the best experience of their lives. Judy Weader has explicitly talked about this in her blog post.

She proposed three approaches to prioritize and improve the customer experience, which are:

Base decisions on facts and statistical pieces of evidence

Judy described how customer service’s relevant decisions are of grave concern and hold great importance in altering the paradigms of business activities. They have the power to change hefty amounts of revenue, provide job security to workers, and anticipate the future growth of the company. Wouldn’t executives and analysts like to have quantified data and research statistics to make an informed decision?

Two-by-Two Matrix

This concept illustrates the customer’s importance and importance to the business as two individual dimensions. She classified customer importance as pivotal drivers of customer experience, the number of customers facing a similar issue, and the impact of a common complaint affecting the use of product and service. This was positioned against importance to a business that referred to corporate decisions and strategies to improve revenue and minimize risks.

Unanimous Decisions

Judy raises an excellent point about how prioritization doesn’t happen to occur in a business rather it should be a set of choices made and conscious actions performed by the business team collectively. She shed light on how we need to prioritize aspects that are consistent and mutually agreed upon by the whole enterprise.

Conclusion

So, these were my favorite picks from the July’s pots regarding Customer Services and Customer Experience. I found all of these posts to be quite interesting and compelling. It is truly amazing how companies remain undeterred and resilient in these difficult times as we are caught unprepared by this Global Crisis. Comment below and share with us your favorite customer experiences. We would love to hear from you! Also, if you want your next post shared with our audience, just share the link below, in the comment section and we will feature you in our next session! Will meet you next month with some more amazing posts. Till then stay safe!

8 Trends that will Drive the Future of Digital Customer Experience in 2020

Products and services are simply commodities now. There are probably hundreds of companies around the world that can offer what you are offering. I’m sorry to surprise you, but in this, you are not that unique. However, the way you service your customers can change how they perceive you. This is where customer experience matters.

The introduction of new technologies in the equation of customer experience changed forever the way that customers and businesses interact. Every year, new tech rises, and businesses try to adapt their internal processes to adopt it. On the other hand, it molds the way that humans handle the CX too.

This year is no exception, and it includes a new set of tech-related trends that are already shaping the customer experience. As technology tools take the lead this year again, there is a growing need for balancing them with human abilities. In this sense, we could affirm that seeking that balance is a trend too.

This text will show some of the hottest trends to interact with customers and some effective ways to handle them. After all, digital tools always need humans behind them.

1. Voice Search

Without a doubt, this is one of the hottest trends for 2020. Although this technology became available in the past, platforms like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa turned it more friendly. Also, these types of platforms improved significantly the quality of the results.

Overall, there is a clear pattern of users increasing their preference for voice technology. That includes other methods like WhatsApp messaging and similar. Little by little voice searches are gaining terrain, and customers also want the chance to talk at some point with representatives. Therefore, implementing this trend will also become one of the most challenging options for many businesses.

2. Local over Global

Despite the presence of many global brands all around the world, many people try to obtain a local experience from them. That might include the same language, nearby stores, local menus, and more. It means that businesses need to adapt their Customer Experience strategies to satisfy local demands.

Currently, there are many apps and programs to allow businesses to find their place in local markets. Among them, you can find listings in local directories, positioning brand names in local markets through digital strategies, just to name a few.

Moreover, some businesses try to open office branches in more cities to get closer to their customers. And customers welcome them by choosing their proposals. Companies that need help with this should contact a developer to help them build a suitable application to service their needs.

3. Chatbots and Customer Experience

This year, this is the tool that best represents the rise of Artificial Intelligence for CX in 2020. It allows businesses to offer 24/7 support and speed up the relationship with customers. However, it is still limited to solve basic problems.

In this sense, the biggest challenge will be to include as many solutions as possible using chatbots. Customers are already engaged with chatbots, and they only need to get more benefits to keep going ahead with them.

On the other hand, human customer support will have to prepare for more challenging requests. That´s because basics stuff will be handled by chatbots, and when customers effectively reach an agent, it would be for important issues.

4. Segmentation

In previous years, omnichannel strategies took a privileged position. But now segmentation is the new rule. Customers only want to receive the information and attention that is relevant to their lifestyle and tastes. And they want to get it from specific channels. For many of them, the omnichannel contact seemed to be overwhelming.

Fortunately, businesses can collect much data from many different sources. The challenge will be to be able to organize it well to obtain accurate profiles. Besides traditional segmentation, the business will have to dig into new behavioral patterns. It will require using the data more effectively.
Also, businesses will try to expand the use of segmentation to handle their relationships with their employees, providers, and partners. After all, they have a direct influence on customers.

5. Self-Help in Customer Experience

DIY is ruling the world now. It seems that everyone can learn from YouTube videos and education platforms. Due to this, all types of businesses have the opportunity to show their customers how to use their products and services. And customers are actively using such platforms.

To be successful in attracting clients, businesses will have to produce high-quality videos, guides, and texts. Currently, many websites offer blogs with a lot of information. But that is not enough. Companies will have to evolve to help their customers to learn.

6. Multisensory Experiences

As virtual reality and augmented reality become widely available, brands will start offering them to expand the way they engage with their clients. Nowadays, businesses are already trying to implement them. But it might take more time before it becomes more popular.

To increase the number of customers who can use these methods, there will have to be more equipment and devices available. Those businesses that use them first will obtain the best engagement.

7. Internet of Things (IoT)

This is a major trend that will go even further this year. It has two sides. Firstly, the data it can collect from the constant use of multiple devices. Businesses can use this data to personalize even more their products services. Secondly, is the development of all kinds of programs and software that ease people´s life.

In any case, the 5G network is already on its way. Although the USA-China tensions to decide who leads the network, it is ready to go and implement.

8. Clean and Accurate Data

Businesses offer a lot of information to satisfy customers’ needs. Trends to consume such information are already in use. But customers are demanding more quality when it comes to accuracy. In this sense, these are some areas where businesses will have to improve this strategy, and some examples include:

  • Accurate and clean data about phones and addresses in directory listings
  • Direct answers to customer´s questions.
  • Relevant information about the business´ operations
  • Updates about offers and promotions

To sum up, 2020 is bringing new challenges in digital customer experience. Fortunately, customers know well how to figure out what they want and need. And businesses just need to follow their path. When a digital trend appears is because customers show clear preferences toward them.

Unlike previous years, now everybody is familiar with digital interactions to develop customer experiences. And that is especially good if we consider how far the new solutions are going. From all the above trends, some are going very strongly, such as the chatbots and local experiences.

Others, like multisensory experiences, will need more time to go massive. However, those that are already implementing them are showing huge success.

Customer Care Cheat Sheet

May 2019 was the time I last vented my frustration online about a horrible Hard Disk replacement experience I had been through. I also promised a follow-up if something related happens again. It didn’t take much longer to happen. Another hard drive of mine failed last month, and I had to submit an RMA request for it. The hard drive that failed this time was from a different company, Western Digital. These two replacement experiences fell in stark contrast to each other and became a perfect example to understand how to deal with customers.

Well, if you want to be that ‘be different’ company and for some particular reason and want to drive your customers away, then sure, head over to this hilarious article. But if you are in for the long haul, then just see what these guys at WD did right. It turns out; they carefully implemented all the to-dos for excellent customer experience displaying a stellar example of how things need to be done.

Less Waiting Time

After being welcomed with a much-needed breeze of AC on a sunny day, their office felt like heaven. A well-organized stack of numerous hard drives was on my left, and few guys dressed in the company’s shirt were standing on my right, strangely smiling as if they were waiting just for me. The soothing fragrance of a freshly mopped floor was one of those unnecessary details that added up to the experience which I am so excited to share.

The three replacement counters in front of me had a short queue each. One of these smiling guys approached me and asked me to join the line, as I was waiting in the queue, he verified my documents. The waiting time was brief, and I successfully submitted my HDD for replacement. This whole experience was the complete opposite of what I had in May, where I had to wait in queue for almost an hour and wasn’t given any satisfactory service. I agree the staff might be the problem, but it spoiled my impression of them anyway.

Verifying my documents beforehand saved the time of the executive behind the counter and also prevented me from wasting my time in the queue if my documents were incomplete. Fortunately, this time, they weren’t.

There were two things that you can learn from this; Firstly, if possible, reduce the waiting time of customers by dividing the waiting queue into several small queues. Secondly, allowing other employees to assist each other, which in turn makes your organization’s operation much smoother and efficient.

Connect

It was very simple for him to come and approach me with a smile, but that small action etched a great first impression in my mind about him and the staff. Those friendly initial greetings established the tone we had for the rest of our conversation. The thing that pulled my attention the most was his concern to help me solve my problem. He genuinely listened to my concerns and happily answered everything I inquired about.

In the end, he also made a comment about my phone, “Nice phone, man! I’m saving up to buy this one too.” Even though that was completely unnecessary it helped me in getting more comfortable with him.

I would ask you to recall your last poor customer service experience where the attendant hearing your queries actually showed interest in them. I bet you can’t remember anything like that. The point here is that, customer personnel who actually tries to understand the concerns by making the conversation customized and breathable eventually sets a personal connection with the customer. Which, if not always, could solve the most difficult of situations.

Utilize your Expertise

This time, I also wanted to buy a new Hard Disk. Considering my budget and type of requirement, the salesperson picked five different drives for me to choose from. If I was given a choice to look myself from that overwhelmingly big rack of drives, I’m sure I’d have ended up with a Decision Paralysis. Even though I consider myself a techie to some extent, but my knowledge stands nowhere near the expertise of these guys. Getting a second opinion is very advisable. This surely helped me in making the right decision and helped them in making a sale.

The reason customers seek support during a purchase is that having an expert’s recommendation removes the ‘what if’ factor from their mind and helps them in decision making. Compare this to what I experienced when I went to purchase a Computer Monitor a couple of years back. I went into the shop, and the salesperson simply placed several monitors in front of me to choose from, that’s it. He didn’t tell me much about them, and as expected, I was dumbfounded. I left the shop shortly due to indecisiveness. I was ready for a purchase, but it felt like he wasn’t interested in selling. That’s a missed opportunity, I must say.

Be Quick

The whole replacement process of the earlier mentioned company was an absolute mess. I was first required to drop an email to their customer care in which I had to prove that my HDD was indeed failing. After wasting time there, they asked me to fill up an RMA request form, print it out and paste it on the inside of the box which I was supposed to pack my hard drive in. Even after all that I was supposed to drop this HDD to their hostile office myself.

I do understand these customs are made to prevent forgery, and WD did the same thing, but the difference was in the time I spent in the process. With WD, it took me less than a week to get my drive replaced with brilliant customer service both online and offline. Whereas, I wasted a whole month getting the replacement from the other company. Me getting my drives replaced with this company shows that I’m already a committed customer but the pace at which WD solved my issues ensured that I’d buy from them again. Which I shortly did.

Make Waiting Pleasurable

While waiting for a brief amount in the queue, I was offered water and even coffee. The AC’s were at full blast, and the whole office had a peaceful environment, in contrast to what I experienced earlier, where only one counter had the luxury of a working fan. I was sweating while waiting in the queue, and the loud noise of packaging was banging my ears like anything. WD understood, if the customers are going to spend some time waiting, then it should be a pleasant experience.

Stay True to Your Word

WD promised me that replacement drive would be delivered within two days and it actually did. A simple thing to do, right? The other company made the same duration of promise, but the delivery took nine days. In the end, they even stopped responding to my emails. If your company sets an expectation and doesn’t adhere to it, there will be problems.

Even though the WD hard drives are a bit costlier in comparison to that company, it didn’t hurt me much. I’m already assuming they’ve taken this extra premium to serve their customers better. For me, it was worth it.

It is just a simple thing to understand. If you make it easy for your customers to do business with you, your business would not only prosper, but your customer’s experience will improve as well.

A Blueprint for Getting and Keeping Customers

Last year I had a pretty horrible experience that I never shared with you. However, the experience I had has impacted my decisions this year. In Canada when winter hits, everyone scrambles to get winter tires for their vehicles. It’s something that happens every year and you’d think that people would be prepared but in this, I find that I am as fallible as everyone else.

Well, last year the company that I shopped at for my tires really left me disappointed. This company is quite good normally and they are one of the most popular and well-known stores in Canada, however, their automotive department (specifically tires) is really subpar. They provided little to no information on the differences between different brands, nor did they help me choose, which would be the best option for my vehicle. I was left to my own devices to conduct all of the research. Fortunately, a friend suggested an alternative.

Related: Customer experience and feedback are two major aspects for successful business

The following points are the most important to keep your customers with yourself according to my experience:

Minimize Wait Time

At the new place, I went to, when I entered the store, there was just one person in front of me in the line, and they were being helped. A lady who was wearing numerous different hats in the office stood up from her desk and approached me with a smiling face.

While I didn’t ask anything, it gave me the impression that the employees in the store were basically focused on responding to any customer who enters. Give it a thought, that you are standing in a long queue in a store and only one person is behind the counter who was helping the customers, while the others were just there doing god-knows-what behind the counter, not making even a single bit of effort to directly help the customers? How would that make you feel?

Well, there are two lessons here. First, don’t ever make your customers wait excessively. And second, there will be times when the staff addressing the line won’t be able to help each customer without a long wait. The one thing to do in that situation would be to help or empower other staff to help.

It would be not fair if I didn’t mention that if you’re drowned with long wait times, then a good outsourcing partner won’t just throw more oil to the problem but will also holistically help you to optimize your staffing and help your entire operation run more smoothly.

Making Connection

The first impression I got was when I was helped with a smile. The “Welcome! How may I assist you?” was said with a welcoming tone. The first welcome greeting sets the mood for the rest of the interaction to come. Later on, the salesperson addressed my jacket, which I was sporting. He noticed it was a souvenir from a past location I had visited in and he then talked about that city. This made me think, “Wow, this guy is good!”.

I want you to recall poor customer service. The service staff serving you showed the least interest as a person. A compassionate customer service professional who gives a personal touch to the interaction is different. They make a connection with the customer and can easily sort out issues easily with disappointed customers.

Sharing Your Expertise

A few weeks back, I visited another tire shop (its winter again and my wife’s car needs tires also!). The sales staff showed me no less than ten different types of tires and asked me to choose according to my needs, but he didn’t even explain to me about any difference in the features of the models.

I ended up walking out of the shop and going to another shop. Comparing this experience to what I’d received earlier was very different. Here the salesperson presented me a few options which were suitable for my vehicle and explained each of them very well along with the prices and their features; then he helped me to choose the tires with the best features that fit within my budget.

A huge reason why customers contact support is because they want an expert to guide them. My unpleasant tire buying experience in 2018, the salesperson simply said, “We don’t have any tires for your vehicle. You need to go order online. Next customer.” Seemingly helping me, select tires was not part of his job. The big joke was they seemed to have had more tires than the company I chose did. Regardless, as a customer, I was ready to hand him my money, and he essentially communicated that he didn’t want to sell the tires to me. That is a serious loss of customer base.

Solve the Problem Already

The experience which I shared, I actually had to go home and order the tires, then impatiently wait for another week before I could have them installed in my vehicle. In comparison to this, my chosen vendor had five different types of tires in stock and installed them within an hour. It’s crucial to note that once my car is in the garage, I’m already committed as a customer. There’s no turning back. By such a nice experience in just an hour, they ensured that they would get my repeat business.

Related: The impact of customer experience

Make the Wait Pleasant

My son was with me during this session, and he was so thrilled by the free popcorn and the activities that were there for the kids while we waited. I was happy with the abundance of available seating and of course, free Wi-Fi. Clearly, this dealer understands that the time customers spend waiting can be more pleasant and have taken adequate measures.

Keep Your Promises

They also promised me that they would call when my car will be ready, and they did. It is a simple task from their side, but this is the most important step to keep your customers. Look onto a condition when the company never calls or even picks up their phone, ridiculous right. Setting a standard expectation is one thing. Exceeding those expectations with great customer service is another thing. If you don’t meet or exceed expectations, then your business will soon be in the dust.

If you follow closely, my tire buying experience in 2018 was painfully long and not very fruitful. My experience with the new company took a little over an hour. While I may have paid slightly more, they’ve obviously taken that small premium and ensured that I get a better experience. But I’d say it was worth it.

I have stated this earlier, but it is worth repeating. When you enable the customers to do business with you, they’ll not only be with you but will also reassure others about your service, and the network goes on.

The Growing Usage of Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service

The rapid advancement of AI technology has led to benefits in numerous business sectors. We have previously talked about their growing popularity in contact centers, but an even more increasingly popular usage for AI is in customer service. It is no wonder that – within three years – 55% of retailers are planning to employ artificial intelligence to improve customer service, according to the 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey.

To find out why, it is essential to examine how AI works in the field of customer service and the advantages it brings to the table.

What Artificial Intelligence Can Do

Scientists are striving to make consumer-to-producer (C2P) communication AI-based and indistinguishable to manual communication. This is far from perfect, but through using complex learning algorithms and studying consumer behavior, AI technology is advancing to an extent that it can replicate most manual interaction.

Firstly, AI aids in strategic decision-making by tracking trends in consumer behavior through the analysis of readily-available transaction and browsing data. The conduction of this analysis allows digital retailers to refine their product recommendations and personalize their purchase suggestion for each user.

This does not come off as a surprise as we have formerly discussed how using consumer data can significantly improve customer experience. Most, if not all, large-scale digital retailers employ this feature of AI to attract more demand. For instance, Amazon uses AI to detect a pattern in customers’ browsing and transaction history on the website to make purchase suggestions.

 Secondly, an ever-increasing number of digital service providers are using AI augmented messages. This usage may occasionally be difficult as customers often feel frustrated when they are dealing with a pure bot in live chat support. However, this technology has experienced rapid development within these few years to an extent that – as LivePerson claims- “Half of all customer service interactions are currently highly suitable for bots.”

LivePerson is one company which is currently working with IBM Watson to transform customer care through the usage of AI augmented messaging. The same augmentation can be adapted to customer care phone calls. As a matter of fact, IBM claims that “customers make more than 270 billion phone calls to customer support lines each year.” Such a high load cannot be adequately handled by manual customer support workers and AI helps relieve the pressure.

The advancement of voice recognition software and the development of faster self-learning AI will improve the sustainability of using technology to improve customer care. In addition, bots and humans can work hand-in-hand to provide the most sufficient service in customer support. This is possible in both: phone calls and live text support – as seen below.

Thirdly, AI comes in very handy in streamlining responses to email inquiries. This brings forth numerous advantages. Most importantly, using artificial intelligence can reduce the average handling time (AHT) as it is able to classify the inquiries into different categories so they can be deal with faster and easier. Based on that, the AI can either automatically respond to the inquiry if it classified as a FAQ or it can forward it for human assistance.

The reduced AHT lead to increased customer satisfaction while the automation of responses leads to reduced consumption of human resources. As such, the usage of AI technology in handling emails provides a win-win situation and leaves no side at loss.

The Long-term Benefits of AI

AI provides services which are useful for all types of business, so we can see their usage continuing to grow in the future. This trend is reinforced by the self-learning nature of AI. Self-learning, or deep learning, refers to the phenomena where machines can learn by experience and acquire skills without human involvement. This allows them to improve over time and adapt more effortlessly to the market and consumer behavior.

Every single day, 2.6 quintillion bytes of data are generated. That number seems incomprehensible to human beings, but AI actively use the data for their improvement through deep learning. This can be directly observed in AI which is fixated on improving customer experience. Most notably, Netflix uses deep-learning AI to analyze patterns in what users watch and personalize movie recommendations accordingly.

We have spoken earlier about the numerous benefits of Continual Service Improvement (CSI), and the deep-learning aspect of AI provides just that. The implementation of AI in the customer service sector of one’s business will allow it to continually improve in accordance with the ITIL model since the bots will be adopting more over time. Thus, the employment of AI has as many long-term advantages as it has short-term advantages, making it perfect for almost every business model.

The Growing Prevalence of AI

In light of all those benefits, one question arises: Will AI ever completely replace humans in the field of customer service? To date, the answer remains a mystery. However, most people do not think so. It is true that AI is able to outperform humans in numerous areas, but one must consider that they are dependent on the first-hand human experience at the end of the day.

Smart technology such as deep-learning AI LivePerson independently improve but it still lacks many of the qualities which humans uniquely possess, most remarkably human empathy. From the phrasing of sentences to the tone of voice, human empathy plays a crucial role when assisting customers as it paves the road for healthier communication and improved satisfaction. Bots may be able to deal with a situation adequately, but true customer comfort lies in being understood. Such a feeling cannot be replicated by AI, which reinforces the need for a human-bot synergy in customer assistance.

Nonetheless, scientists are working on enriching bots in this sector by adding different voices and styles of writing. This can be observed in the improvement of chatbots. Using deep-learning, chatbots are becoming more emotionally in tune to the extent that they are even able to help humans overcome fears.

It is only a matter of time until we see these features used in customer service, further increasing its popularity. Hence, it is never the wrong choice to look into ways of implementing AI technology to improve customer experience.

The Difference Between Customer Experience and Customer Feedback

In every business, the most important factor to satisfy to be able to become successful is the customer.  They are the very reason why businesses are willing to spend millions, just to get the attention of the customers.  The purpose here is to convince the customer to patronize their products or services.  And to achieve that, businesses strive to provide good or excellent customer experience and harvest good customer feedback.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience to me is the interaction, between the customers and the business itself, through its people, logistic, system, and management.  This is the result of all the collective efforts of the whole team, against the experience of their customers.  This includes:

  • How the staff welcomes the customers.  This is a very important factor in business.  The first time a customer step in your establishment/office, they already think of getting something from you.  They already expect that they will be treated with kindness and that the business put value in their presence.  So, if the staff was so welcoming to them, they will be sure of a good customer experience in your resort.
  • How the staff addressed their concerns.  Another way to be able to provide a good experience is being able to address all your customers concerns. Such complaint as leaking, not cold AC, no hot water, etc.  If you are able to address their concerns fast, they will have a good experience.
  • How the staff provides support. Support from staff is a welcome gesture from the new guests.  Supporting your customers in many little things will give your business a good start.

Providing Excellent Customer Experience

Since customer experience is important, here are a few tips, on how to make sure your customers will have one good experience:

  • Familiarity with your products/services. This first step is the most important.  Customers will always appreciate when the staffs answer their questions about the products.  Sometimes, a customer’s doesn’t know the location of some items. 
  • Be friendly. Be friendly to anyone that enters your establishment.  A simple smile and greetings will make a difference.  You need to do that to get good feedback as well.  Do not be judgmental towards anybody’s looks.  Treat everyone as equal being as they are the same customers and paid the same amount of money.
  • Training. Training is equally important to provide your customers with good customer experience.  If your staff is trained on standard customer service, there is no reason your customers will not have a good customer experience.
  • Respect.  Respect your customers, and you will also get respect.  And the respect you showed your customers, will then convert into profit.  Customers when you show them respect, they will not forget it.  This will remind them of your resort/hotel when they plan to visit your place again.
  • Be responsive. Some staffs in many businesses are not so responsive when customers are asking for any details.  But, being able to respond accordingly to their queries will make them feel important.

What is Customer Feedback?

Customer feedback in my own opinion is the result of the customer’s interaction with your business.  It is written by customers, to be able to show their gratitude for the service offered or they provided feedback to allow customers, to get share their experience of a certain product or services.  They also bring this customer feedback to give businesses to work for improvement.

The importance of customer feedback on the business

  • It improves products and services. Customer feedback will result in improvement in products and services, because, through it, you will know, the defects of the product. You will have time to make improvements and adjustments regarding their services.
  • Helps to know how customers react.  This will also help you to know how your customers reacted to their experiences in your business.  Getting their feedback, positive or negative, is still beneficial to your business.
  • Shows that you value their opinions.  This signifies that you value what is important to them.  This will change their impression on your business.  This will give them the impression, that they are valued in your business.
  • It makes you aware of the capability of your staff, in dealing with your customers.  Most often, the problem lies in your staff.  They cannot promote your products and services that lead to poor customer feedback.
  • It helps you make adjustments in the operation and management of your business.  Once you get negative feedback, you just have to look at the entire system.  If you need to re-design the system, do it.  If you only need to put some adjustments, then be it.  Then, try to get more customer feedbacks until you have perfected the system.
  • It will be a factor in future business strategies.  Running a business is done in stages.   Getting feedback from customers will make you decide to proceed to the next stage or fixed the current stage before going to the next level.

Poor customer experience will always result in poor customer feedback.  The best way to give your customer the best experience in your business is to make him at home and comfortable, while they are in your establishment. 

Giving them the importance and being attentive, to their every need’s, will always result, to their satisfaction.  Once they are satisfied, they will always want to provide customers feedback.

The success of every business lies in the execution and the customer’s satisfaction.  Failure on this regard will affect the profitability of a business. Unless it is fixed, and customer service is given utmost importance, business is destined to fail.

A customer’s feedback is just the mirror of how you deal with your customers. Don’t be afraid to get customers feedback, as it will help you redefine your business. 

10 First Steps to Improve Customer Experience

A business cannot grow without their customers; therefore, companies work hard to win new customers as well as keep their existing customers. Customer experience is the complete perception of a brand for the customers through several interactions with the company during the journey. It is more feeling orientated than problem orientated. Providing overall good customer experience by a company can lead to building long term relationship with its customers while being good only in one area but struggling in other areas can result in an overall poor experience.

Customer experience is different from customer service as customer service is only one aspect of the whole customer experience. It can often be about one single point, specific department or individual. A company provides support to customers who are having problems while purchasing its products or services. It plays a significant role because the whole customer experience can be strongly affected by customer service interaction. So, businesses should improve their customer experience if they want to scale.

Build a customer-focused Culture:

Building a customer-focused culture purely means making the customer experience a central part of the company’s goals and values. According to seohosting, it is 5 times costlier to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. So, the main goal of the company should be customer satisfaction rather than growth and profits. They should be in constant interaction with their customers at every phase of the journey. Without a customer-focused culture, companies can not really reach strong customer satisfaction levels.

Every employee has an impact on customers not only the customer-facing employees who interact with the customers so often. The key to a culture change is to Involve all employees. Each person in the company needs to understand how their role can influence customers.

For example, Zappos uses a customer-centric approach which has been established into their culture to deliver the best customer service and improve customer experience.

Know who your customers are:

It is obvious that if you don’t know who your customers are, you will never know what they want, and how you can help them achieve it. All customers do not have the same needs and you can discover several different types of customers with different requirements and expectations.

To know who your customers are, employees should recognize the targeted customers and think of the services from their viewpoint. Having a complete understanding of the customers through customer engagement data plays a great role in achieving fundamental business goals. It also empowers delivering improved customer experiences across the board. As said by Teradata, only 41% of companies use customer engagement data to update their marketing strategy.

Mobile customer support:

As an average user spends more than three hours daily, browsing and using their smartphone. So, the biggest brands offer mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites for their users to capture their attention and engage them. Customers can get their queries resolved on their smartphones that really improve customer satisfaction level. Some of the companies don’t focus on their mobile support so resulting in poor customer experience.

In the U.S, 63% of people use their smartphones to search for products and customer support every month.

Live chat support:

Customers had to wait in a long queue while contacting the company through phone calls so, live chat is now the fastest way for customers to contact a company directly from its website in real time. In the beginning, it was available only in retail websites online but nowadays, this is not limited to eCommerce websites. All well-known brands offer live chat support to improve customer experience.

Gartner predicts that about 85 percent of businesses will provide a live chat facility on their websites by 2022.

Social media support:

Social media support can be an influential communication way for a company to develop strong relationships with the customers, earn trust and build brand awareness. It is not only used for finding more followers or increasing sales, but it is also used for customer experience improvement.

Younger customers, who normally do not check emails will particularly expect social messaging to be their way to get in touch with companies, brands, and artists. So, it is important for companies to focus deeply on social media support and manage it well. Facebook has more than 2 billion users and Twitter has more than 330 million users. It shows how people are involved in social media.

An understanding of what other channels are suitable for your customer base:

Earlier, there used to be only one way to contact a company but now the businesses must provide the most suitable communication channels to make it easy for the customers to get in touch. Customers can use text, message, email, forums and any other way easier for them to contact. Some old age people prefer phone calls to contact while younger people use social media. It is believed that no single communication medium fits for all and depends on the customers.

Self serve tools:

Self-service helps the customers to get answers to their questions without the assistance of a representative from the customer service team. The commonly used self-serve tools include FAQs and online discussion forums. Self-serve tools are faster, hence ideal for saving customers’ time. It allows customers to take control of the way they use the service. Self-serve tools are no more a “nice to have” in the website. It is required to provide a positive customer experience.

Customer self-serve tools also help in reducing the load on customer support representatives and earn enhanced customer loyalty and experience. The study conducted by Dimension Data shows that 73 percent of the customers choose to use self-serve tools provided in the company’s website, instead of using phone calls, live chat, and social media for support.

Someone to be responsible for customer experience:

Nearly all the departments of a company do really influence the customer experience. It is not the job of one individual or department. therefore, everyone uses their efforts and enhance things in their own area.

In most companies, the marketing department helps in improving customer experience as a whole. In some cases, the top management work for it. But there is a customer experience manager that makes a connection between the company and the customer. And this person helps in managing customer experience job across all different departments.

The ability to research and gather data:

A survey conducted by Salesforce shows that 57% of the total customers share their personal data with companies to get special offers and discounts. Businesses collect a huge amount of data through many activities. It is important to analyze this data and utilize it for providing personalized services to customers and enhancing the customer experience. This helps a company keep a loyal customer base.

A report published by ICMI said that 69% of customers pay additional money if they are getting great customer service.

Ability to benchmark and evaluate:

The company should be able to collect and gather data trying out different things. Which support service is effective and which one is not. To know answers to all these questions there must be feedback giving the option for the customers. This will help the company to measure the effectiveness of each customer support method.

Conclusion:

In today’s technological world and constant access to the internet, every customer wants 24/7 exemplary customer services from a company. So, every company must now try to make better customer service their top priority. It helps the company to take an edge over its competitors.

Some Simple Steps to Improve Customer Experience

Let’s take a simple example that everyone is familiar with – Email. Email is a fact of life now and many organizations have switched to email as the only way in which they provide support to their customers.  However humans are social animals and we are built to make judgments based on visual clues – this is called Body Language – and when these clues are removed from a conversation, the most innocuous and innocent topic can quickly escalate out of control.

With email, it’s impossible to understand body language, so what can you do to ensure you are getting your point across? How can you improve customer experience when you do not get a chance to meet your customers? Some things that you can do to improve this though are as follows:

Personalize

If your company uses templates or something similar to respond to customers, take the opportunity of personalizing them.  It is not just a matter of adding a name to the top of the email, but rather sprinkle their name throughout the discourse you are having with them.  Think about it as if you were having a normal, face-to-face conversation with that person.

Add a bit of personalized text to your email and you can make the customer feel that you care about him; his needs and that you are there for him. Everyone in this world wants to feel special, keep that in mind when writing emails.

Empathize

If a customer tells you about something in the body of their email, make sure you have actually read it and understand what he is saying.  For example, if you are informed that the reason the internet is so important is due to a disability, you can use the words “sorry” in the body of your response without it being offensive.

A few words showing empathy and well wishes do not take long for you to type but might make all the difference – keep in mind, if they are contacting your support department, it is because a service they are paying for is not working to their expectations and at this point, customer service is where you need to put your focus.  The golden rule definitely applies here and you should treat them the way you would like to be treated in similar circumstances.

It’s important with customer experience to focus on removing roadblocks. The more barriers there are, the more difficult your customers will find it to work with you.

Tone

What is your customer actually telling you?  Does he sound happy/sad/angry?  Is this his first email about this issue or has he sent many others?  How many emails has he sent to your company on other similar issues?  Here’s where a decent CRM comes into play as the more information you have about a customer the better.

All of these are clues to help you in determining the type of response you should send to your customer.  While you might be restricted in the message due to the circumstances and the response you can give, HOW you tell the customer something is completely different WHAT you tell the customer.

K.I.S.S.

An old, old acronym is KISS – Keep It Simple (Stupid) – and this definitely applies here.  Remember who your target is and what their skills are.  If you are supporting a technical product, it should be fairly obvious that your skills in this area are going to be higher than someone not working in that field and without access to your tools and resources.  There are a lot people with no or very little experience with computers. They may not use computer daily, are elderly, technophobic… when a person like this contacts us, they might have already exhausted everything they were able to do and are already feeling frustrated with the lack of a resolution.

Your response to this person should be aimed at not only resolving their reported issue (in a KISS way!!), but based on your experience what their NEXT question would be also.  In addition, you should take this as an opportunity to educate your customer also on where they can find this information in the future.  You will not stop receiving emails from everyone by doing this, but gradually education is the best tool to ensure that your issues are resolved.

The Terminator

A fairly famous film that you will have probably heard of is The Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In that film, machines have taken over the Earth and are currently at war with Humanity.  This is NOT the case here. 

While AI implementations are increasing around the world, you are dealing with real people and NOT machines so the way in which you speak to them should be appropriate to that.

What is Customer Journey Mapping and Why is it Important?

Most people have the wrong view of customer journey mapping, and that is why they get intimidated by it. They think that it has to be an accurate representation of every degree of customer’s experience. This is impossible.   

It is better to think of it as a persona. Customer maps are like personas. The only difference is that they focus more on the questions and tasks. They express the experience of customers over time and not as a snapshot. This means that they work together. A customer journey map focuses on the customer experience while a persona focuses on people or the person.  

The Meaning of Customer Journey Mapping

According to Forbes, customer journey mapping can be defined as a way of visualizing the experience of customers and how the customers interact with your business. The primary goal of mapping the journey is to remove any obstacles and improve efficiency while also making the process intuitive. The customer experience will improve if you create a seamless experience. Laterally, it is mapping out the best way for the typical journey of the customer.   We can refer to it as an archetype representing the underlying complexity and nature of a real journey. There is no way a customer journey map can be 100% accurate. This can leave a lot of people wondering about the importance of customer journey mapping.

Importance of Customer Journey Mapping

It is not easy to create a customer journey because it requires a lot of effort to create. For this reason, you will create fewer of them. People often create customer journey maps for each of their primary audience. Rather than digging into too many details, they focus on the overview of the whole journey. You can polish out the journeys over time. You can also think of customer journey map as a story designed to give insights into the journey of the customer.   

Companies Can Refocus With an Inbound Perspective

Customers can discover your company with the aid of inbound marketing rather than using outbound marketing to discover your customers. Using outbound marketing is not effective because it involves using tactics that are poorly targeted at uninterested audiences and it can interrupt customers from their activities.  

  You can spend a lot of money on outbound marketing and achieve undesirable results. This can annoy customers and deter them. On the other hand, inbound marketing involves creating interesting content that potential customers are already looking for. This can grab the attention of the customers at first and focus on sales later.   By mapping out the journey of the customers, you can understand the helpful and interesting things to your customers about your website and company. You can also understand things that are turning your customers away. You can also create vital content to attract the customers to your company and improve customer trust.

The New Target Customer Base

You won’t be able to know the psychographics and demographics of your customers if you don’t understand the customer journey. This can be dangerous and can waste a lot of resources to target an audience that is too broad repeatedly. It is important to target people who are likely to be interested in your content, products, and services.   You will get a good picture of the types of people trying to achieve a goal or get services and products from your company if you research the needs of your customers and map out their journey.

Creation of a Customer-Focused Culture 

It can be difficult to coordinate different departments in your company as it gets large. This will make it difficult to be customer-focused. Your company will, therefore, have marketing and sales goals that are not based on what the customers want.    You can share a clear customer journey map with everyone in your department. The maps will help you understand every step of your customer’s journey from the first time they interacted with your company to the post-purchase support. You cannot deny the importance of customer journey mapping based on this rationale. 

Timing

Timing is an essential factor for businesses to focus on when looking at the customer journey mapping. Businesses can use the maps to observe the time it takes customers to complete specific actions.

Identifying gaps in Communications and Service

Businesses can use customer journey maps to reveal gaps in customer service. This can enable business managers to make the necessary adjustments and improve service delivery. For example, one department may prove to be understaffed, and this can cause frustration to customers who interact with that department. Problems in communication between departments and among employees may be revealed and solved accordingly.

Reduced Costs

Businesses that use customer journey maps reduce costs. Research done by the Aberdeen group indicated that brands that use customer journey maps improve in the cost of customer service more than ten times. The research also found out that brands that use customer journey mapping grow by 21% within a year while those that don’t use customer journey maps experience a yearly decline of 2.2%. Customer journey mapping also increases referral marketing, and this reduces the costs of marketing.

An Example of Customer Journey Mapping

This is an example of a customer journey map, and it clearly shows the steps that dapper apps believe customers go through as they interact with them. The company goes beyond the purchasing phase and incorporates the post-purchase needs and initial research.   

  The map helps employees to get into customer’s mind and understand the questions they have and their emotions. This makes the map effective. The dapper apps take incremental actions in response to the customers’ questions and feelings, and this helps it to solve the current problems that customers have.

Reasons why Customer Journey Maps Fail

There are many different reasons for failure when it comes to customer journey mapping. Here are some of the most common ones that you need to be aware of.

Speaking to Like-Minded Colleagues Alone

When employees are expressing their views on customer journey, they can gravitate towards views that only reflect their own opinions and common wisdom. This can lead to employees expressing their opinions, and not views backed up with concrete evidence.    This can be very dangerous if the opinions of the employees are taken and accepted as facts. It is therefore important to seek out a wide range of opinions from different groups of employees.

Lack of Clear Governance

Customer journeys cut across different organizational structures. This makes it useful to form a functional group that cuts across all the structures to reflect different departments’ experiences of the customer journey. It is important to have proper governance in place for this to be successful.

Failure to Involve Stakeholders

It is important to involve all parts of the business to participate in the creation of the map. Strong support should come from the senior leadership to ensure that customer journey mapping is successful. An initiative such as customer journey mapping will fail without executive sponsorship.

Not Speaking to Customers

During customer journey mapping, it is important to take the opinions of your employees. But as we had earlier seen, some employees will only give you their opinions and not hard facts. To solve this problem, it is crucial to validate the views of your customers by talking to the customers and not relying on your employees to give you information.

Spending too Much Time on Research

It is important to do enough research, but this doesn’t mean that you should spend too much time on research. You can result in a lot of problems if you do too much research. Researching for too long can make the project too be too expensive and complex. You only need research to create a detailed and helpful map and not to improve functions.

Conclusion

The process of customer journey mapping creates an overview of customer experience. It also maps how your customers navigate through the sales funnel. Customer journey mapping is useful across both refinement process and iteration as new elements get designed while the old ones get refined or discarded. You can use customer journey mapping to identify opportunities and enhance the overall experience of your customers.   Customer journey mapping can help content creators create the best way to approach the creation of their content. For the designer folks, customer journey mapping can help them to identify the missing connections in the navigation and help to eliminate various customer frustrations.   With customer journey mapping, you will be able to put your customers at the center of everything you do. You won’t only look at your needs and priorities and make assumptions about ways you can motivate your customers to meet your business goals. It gives you a reason to consider the customers first.   To get started with customer journey mapping, you will first need to choose the processes you want to analyze and deconstruct each step taken to complete each process. This sounds easy but you there are some challenges. Nevertheless, every business needs customer journey mapping, and you need to make a decision now because there are numerous benefits that you will enjoy later.