Technology has made it possible for even small businesses to leverage innovation to improve their customer service and outpace competitors by building customer loyalty.
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Customer service has always been an important part of any business. Sometimes, even if a company’s products and services aren’t as ideal as a competitor’s, delivering a good customer experience can help them generate more sales and profits. This is for a couple of reasons. First, customer service expectations have continued to grow rapidly over the years and businesses have been trying to compete on that front. Second, customer satisfaction leads to loyalty and the willingness to become a brand evangelist.
In an age where social media dominates almost every aspect of daily life, having customers who are willing to speak, write and post about your product can be the difference between getting significant traction, making sales and scaling profitably, or dying in obscurity. Customer service has been found to be a bigger determinant of whether a business will get a five-star review than the quality of the actual products.
Communication and access
Another human behavior that has become more prominent in recent years is the desire for instant gratification. It was once normal to spend hours on end wrangling a customer service representative. But today, people want to be able to raise an issue with the company and get a solution in the shortest possible time frame. The flipside, from a business perspective, is that it is often impractical to hire enough people to provide that kind of prompt, always-on service.
That’s where chatbots come in. They allow businesses to pre-program the most common issues that customers come up with and the appropriate responses to them, making it possible for most requests to be treated at that level, while only the ones that require advanced attention get pushed to human operators. According to research by IBM, more than 67 percent of consumers worldwide have used a chatbot for customer support in the past year and around 85 percent of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020. 40 percent of consumers do not care whether a chatbot or a real human helps them, as long as they are getting the help they need.
As chatbots continue to gain popularity, their usage continues to be dominant in the areas where text communication suffices to provide a solution to the issues faced by customers. For companies that sell technical products or services that might require more showing than telling when trying to help a customer resolve a problem, — such as with the installation of a device, for instance — it would be very helpful to implement other technologies that facilitate more interactive communication between customer service reps and customers.
For instance, two-way video and augmented or virtual reality would help a customer service rep walk a customer through a complicated process much more effectively than would be possible using text alone. This is especially crucial in current times, when people are taking steps to avoid in-person contact as much as possible. So beyond making the process more efficient, customers would recognize and appreciate the effort to provide them with stellar customer service experiences in a way that is also safer. That said, in implementing any of these technologies, it is important to adhere strictly to privacy and data security laws.
Personalized and automated marketing
Marketing is an integral part of the customer service experience. When done well, it can be a great way to introduce customers to new products and services they would appreciate being brought to their attention. When done poorly, it comes off as sleazy, making the customer dissatisfied in the best case and in the worst, completely turning them off the brand. To make the best of the marketing experience, it’s important to make it as personalized as possible.
Nowadays, data analytics can be deployed to evaluate a customer’s behavior and interests across all touchpoints, and segmenting them accordingly into a separate list based on a set of parameters, or even enabling you to reach out to them on a completely personal basis in the same way that e-commerce newsletters recommend items similar to the ones we viewed on their websites. This process can also be automated using various software such as making websites responsive to specific locations (on a national, state or community scale, depending on how granular you want to be). The key is to ensure that the customer feels like you’re speaking to them directly. That will certainly translate to a better customer service experience, more customer loyalty, sales and profits.