Be sure to use the strategies above to boost your customer-facing activities, retain your existing customer base, and continue delivering superior customer service.
The customer experience (CX) is not a new concept, but it’s certainly one that has taken off in recent years. As increasing competition in digital spaces becomes the norm, the interaction that a consumer has with a company has become more important than ever. CX is vital in helping a company retain and grow its customer base; in fact, Microsoft’s 2019 State of Global Customer Service report found when choosing and remaining loyal to brands, 95% of consumers indicated that customer service is important to them.
In a time where consumers have more choices and options than ever, customer-facing activities, like sales and marketing, order processing, and customer service, can often make or break your business success. NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report has even revealed that poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year.
Although organizations large and small are recognizing the importance of delivering a better customer service experience, some now emphasizing customer service more than product quality and price, delivering a consistent customer experience can be quite the challenge.
Here are four ways you can improve your customer-facing activities this year.
Align your values with your customers’
Suffice to say that not all customers are created equal. Are you selling your products and services to other businesses, or to consumers for their personal use? Is your “ideal” customer a member of Generation Z, working their way through college, or are they on the more seasoned side of life, working their way toward retirement?
With today’s younger generation gaining buying share in today’s marketplace, it’s now critical to think beyond your product. Your brand and mission need to reflect your philosophy.
Customers and business buyers are now more deliberate about the impact and ethos of brands they support. This can have a real effect on revenue and customer retention rates. Again, transparency and communication are critical, and that goes hand in hand with making sure this information is discoverable. We’re already seeing this with brands like Everlane and Patagonia. Consumers now want to know how products are manufactured, transported, and sold.
Utilizing data allows marketers to gain more information about consumer preferences, which informs marketers on what causes are important to their customers. This can strengthen these types of campaigns. With customer data, marketers can tailor ads to an extremely specific target demographic, featuring products or services that are the most appealing to that group of people based on prior behavior.
Streamline back-end processes
A front-end team is only as good as the back-end processes that drive informed decision making, rapid response, and efficient project management. Many of today’s businesses overlook the positive impact of improving operations on the back end, but these functions directly impact the services, values, and competitive advantages you can deliver to your customers.
Now more than ever, organizations need to have efficient back-end processes set in place that can allow marketing, sales, and customer service teams to work as effectively as possible. For example, cloud-based tools allow professionals across many disciplines to connect, share ideas, and collaborate on current work. Rather than sending files back and forth over email and exchanging information through lengthy phone calls, team members can work simultaneously in real-time, creating more efficient processes than more traditional collaboration methods.
Companies looking to implement cloud-based tools should be sure to select a provider that operates on their own cloud versus companies like Infor Lawson or Workday that rely on third parties to access the cloud. These types of solutions don’t offer the same ease of communication from one department to the next, and may instead make collaboration more difficult—creating lags in processes. That said, working more efficiently on the back-end directly impacts your customer-facing activities. It improves speed to service, streamlines campaign creation, and allows you to reply to customer queries in a more timely manner.
Use technologies that create timely, personalized responses
Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and mobile search features, today’s consumers are accustomed to immediate answers and instantaneous access to the web. That means your sales and service processes should interact with customers in the same way. However, although consumer research reports estimate that your customers are willing to wait up to four hours for a response to their online inquiry, almost 90% of these inquiries go unanswered by brands. Lack of response can inevitably become detrimental to sales conversions, revenue, and brand sustainability.
As AI gains traction as a vital back-end component in more and more business processes, there will be an increased openness to using AI for automated decision making. According to a report from Forrester Research, 60 to 73% of all data within an organization goes unused. As AI algorithms become better-equipped to handle this volume, more companies will come to rely on AI to make decisions for them. For instance, rather than having customer service reps decide whether to refund a customer’s purchase, or whether to approve a mortgage for a certain applicant, AI will make those decisions automatically without the need to consult humans, leading to quicker response times.
In addition, personalization is both expected and preferred by today’s consumers when interacting with brands. Recent research from marketing company Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.
With emerging technologies like machine learning now available, this becomes much simpler. By gathering information like engagement, click-through rates, search patterns, purchase history, past queries, or help tickets, machine learning models can predict customers’ wants and needs, sometimes before they even know themselves. Personalization can be utilized in email campaigns, loyalty programs, a customized home page, and even in brick-and-mortar sales.
Organizations that have embraced personalization in their marketing strategies have found that their efforts have paid off. SmarterHQ reports that 80% of consumers who classify themselves as frequent shoppers say they only shop with brands who personalize their experience.
Capture and implement customer feedback
One of the easiest ways to gauge satisfaction within your customer base is by simply asking them. By using a survey and distribution platform, your organization can solicit real-time feedback from your customers, and can even measure your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score. This provides a current snapshot of how your customers view your business’s customer experience and it provides you with feedback to improve upon. After polling this information, organizations can better understand the strengths and weaknesses that are either driving or diminishing satisfaction within your customer base.
As CX continues to evolve over time, it’s vital for businesses to stay up-to-date with the preferences and expectations of the modern consumer. Be sure to use the strategies above to boost your customer-facing activities, retain your existing customer base, and continue delivering superior customer service.