The way that companies deliver quality customer service has changed significantly in the past two decades.
Once, there was a limited number of ways consumers could contact a business; they either had to visit their stores or offices, call them on the phone, or reach them by mail. Later, they may have been able to send a fax. Now, there is a plethora of ways consumers can reach brands, including phone, email, online chat, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – the list is seemingly endless. Now, the challenge for most companies is to not only ensure they are accessible across channels but for these channels to deliver consistent, integrated and high quality customer service.
According to research conducted by Aberdeen Group, companies that deliver consistent, quality customer service retain 89% of their customers. In contrast, companies that fall short retain just 33%. Furthermore, a report published by RightNow Technologies found that 86% of American adults are willing to pay more for better customer service. As such, a consistent quality of customer service across all channels has a significant impact on revenue – which is why investment in omnichannel customer service is so important. In this article, we discuss the eight keys to quality omnichannel customer service. With these principles, businesses can strive to deliver the best service across all lines of communication.
Defining omnichannel customer service
Omnichannel customer service integrates a brand's communications across every medium, including text, social, email, phone, and face-to-face interactions. An omnichannel customer service strategy creates a unified brand experience, enabling consumers to switch seamlessly between channels yet still receive the same quality of service. Omnichannel customer service enables businesses to deliver convenient and effective service to their clients, improving brand reputation and credibility. This assertion is supported by research that proves customers are frustrated by misaligned customer service. According to research conducted by Accenture, 89% of consumers were annoyed by having to repeat questions to various company representatives. Consequently, integrated, omnichannel customer service is the hallmark of the customer-centric business.
The 9 principles of quality customer service
Customers take their business elsewhere when they feel that the brand does not care about their experience. Therefore, it is critical that companies communicate clearly and effectively with their clientele, which demonstrates their commitment to quality customer service. Irrespective of industry, there are eight keys to delivering exceptional customer service, which are detailed below.
1. Attracting new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones
Loyal customers are more lucrative than new customers. The longer a customer stays with a company, the more money they spend. Furthermore, they develop a deeper relationship with the brand, which encourages them to make other purchases. For instance, if a consumer is happy with their banking brand, they may invest in other financial services later, such as a mortgage or travel insurance.
2. Customer service requires investment
In order to deliver excellent customer service, companies need to invest. This means allocating resources in line with a customer’s value. Therefore, the more valuable the customer, the more personalized the service. Companies that cut costs through automated phone response systems, foreign call centers, or low-quality chatbots risk alienating profitable customers.
3. Understand customer preferences
It is impossible to meet customer expectations if you do not know what they are. In order to understand customer needs and preferences, businesses need to gather feedback and behavioral data. This can be done via traditional methods such as feedback forms or with advanced data capture and analysis tools.
4. Quantify quality
Service is but one factor in meeting customer expectations. High quality products are an essential part of a brand’s value proposition. Therefore, businesses should consider implementing processes that measure quality, such as Six Sigma.
5. Ensure consistency
Customers expect a consistent level of service across all channels. This means that whether a customer is communicating with a brand via social media, email, or speaking with a representative over the phone, they must always experience the same level of service.
6. Improve internal communications
Often, companies will focus on the quality of their external messaging over their internal communications. However, improving relationships between departments and suppliers is integral to delivering high quality customer service. Through reduced lead times, seamless lines of communication, and departmental integration employees can work better together to deliver for the consumer.
7. Activate every channel
Every customer will have a different preferred channel of communication. Some will prefer face-to-face interaction, whereas others will prefer contacting a brand via a messaging app. Furthermore, they will expect every channel to be open, easily accessible, and integrated. To facilitate this, businesses need to ensure customer service representatives can access information across channels.
8. Empower employees
An important indicator of quality service is the speed at which issues are resolved. Therefore, it is essential to empower employees so they can manage complaints swiftly and seamlessly. This is invaluable to company reputation and creates a positive feedback loop where future issues can be resolved even faster.
Combine traditional approaches with technology
In order to deliver the highest quality customer service, it is essential to marry technological approaches with traditional attitudes to good service. For instance, one of the defining features of good customer service is speed. Therefore, management should think about how to deploy technological and human solutions to achieve the fastest possible resolution times. To illustrate, they may chose to implement a chatbot tool to cut response times, which is supported by human customer service agents to deal with more complex issues.
Furthermore, it is essential to understand customer preferences; again, this can be achieved through both technological and traditional means. Listen to customers wherever they are – whether that is on the phone or navigating a website. Through thorough data collection, businesses can build a detailed pictures of their customers’ needs. Armed with this intelligence, businesses can ensure they are always going to extra mile for their clientele, nurturing long-term, loyal relationships. With this adaptable, forward-thinking approach, companies can deliver the fully integrated, high quality customer service consumers expect.