Today’s customers are more informed, more connected, and have higher expectations than ever before. And companies that excel at customer service are reaping the rewards. In fact, a stock portfolio of Forrester’s Customer Experience Index leaders had a 43 percent cumulative gain in performance vs a 14.5 percent gain by the S&P 500.
And more and more companies are taking notice. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations. Here are five trends that you need to be talking about with your teams to stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive advantage.
1. Create self-service tools for your customers.
A survey by Nuance Enterprises found that 75 percent of consumers said that self-service is a convenient way to address customer service issues. And 67 percent of the survey respondents said that preferred self-service over speaking to a company representative. Making a self-service model work for your customers means find the right technology partner and making a commitment to the initiative. You want a solution with a stellar search function, the ability to easily organize comprehensive information, and reporting and monitoring capabilities so you can easily track your progress and adjust your strategy.
2. Use a social knowledge base to help customer service reps find answers quickly.
Making sure that your customer service reps have easy access to information will not only save time and money but will also increase customer satisfaction. SpareFoot, the world’s largest, simplest and best marketplace for self-storage, implemented Bloomfire and estimates that it has saved each customer experience team member at least 1 to 2 hours each month by empowering them to find answers to questions without having to ask another team member and in avoiding unnecessary meetings by sharing posts and series on key topics with the team.
“That time saved means that with a team of 50, we would estimate 100 hours of saved working time each month – or 1,200 hours this coming year. That opportunity cost of spending time in meetings or finding answers to questions is significant and recovering it means more time to serve our customers. That additional time with customers will be worth as much as $250,000 to us this year,” said SpareFoot’s Josh Lipton.
3. Get personal (even in the age of anonymity).
Even in the age of self-service, customers still expect a personalized experience. Why is personalization important when it comes to customer service? Customized experiences lead to deeper connections and increased customer loyalty. This can be executed in a variety of ways – get creative with your personalized approach. For example, deliver contextual content to your visitors based on past searches or recommended products and services based on their behavior.
4. Create meaningful connections with customers on social networks.
Chances are you’re already using social networks as part of your customer service strategy. The real question is – are you doing a good job? 47 percent of U.S. social media users now actively seek customer service through social media according to NM Incite. And this same survey showed that customers who receive a quick and effective response are three times 71 percent more likely to recommend the brand, compared to just 19 percent who will still recommend the brand if they don’t receive a response. Make sure you don’t just talk about social customer service but have a game plan for action that includes consistent staffing, escalation paths, response time metrics and training.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Text.
Many customers are open to receiving support via text message and this can be a very efficient way to establish rapport with your audience on their terms. But this is a support strategy that will require careful preparation and planning. First, always ask for permission. Even if opt-in isn’t technically required because of the type of communication, ask before texting with your customers and ALWAYS provide an easy way to opt-out. Remember, texting is a two-way conversation so be ready to interact in the moment.
It’s clear, organizations that put an emphasis on innovative customer service are seeing their efforts pay off. So how does your company stack up?
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