You don’t have to look far to find an expert in customer service—we’re all experts because we’re all consumers. That’s always been true, but the difference now is that consumer expectations have gone through the roof.
We’ve all experienced outstanding customer service at least once, and so we’re starting to expect it in every interaction with anyone who’s trying to sell us something. I have found that there are three key elements to creating a great experience for customers: making that brand experience seamless, taking advantage of data in real time, and getting the most out of cloud computing. Getting those three priorities right isn’t simple, of course, but the only way marketing, sales, and service people can meet consumer expectations in this digital economy is by meeting those digitally savvy consumers where they are—with the right data.
- Create a seamless brand experience. Customers don’t care if they’re engaged with your company on the web, on the phone, or in person. To them, it’s all one experience, one brand. Your company’s ability to seamlessly transition from one touchpoint to another is essential for a lasting impression and increased loyalty. The customer has to be able to say: “I clicked on this, I got a call, and the person who called me knew exactly what I clicked on.” It’s very important that the customer feels relevant to the conversation. If customers feel they’re doing more to help your company accomplish its goals than you’re doing to help them get what they need, they won’t stay your customer for long.
- Real-time data makes the difference. If elite customer service is a differentiator and a driver of increased market share, companies have one thing going for them that they didn’t have before: fantastic troves of data. The challenge isn’t to get more data; it’s to understand that data and get it to the people who make the customer-facing decisions.In today’s “I need that answer now!” environment, there’s no time to move data into a warehouse and wait for analytics experts to provide reports. Your company’s front-line employees need access to the best information possible as they’re working with customers, because even a single interaction can affect the lifetime relationship with a customer. The ability to increase customer loyalty and gain share (or lose both) comes down to those few precious moments that can have a lasting impact.
- The cloud creates new opportunities. Customers, whether they’re consumers or businesses, have more knowledge, more choices, and less brand loyalty than ever before. At a minimum, they expect your company to serve them with the most modern applications and features, and those are found in the cloud. Cloud-based social listening, personalization, marketing automation, and other tools allow companies to engage with their customers more precisely. They also enable new feedback loops that lead to new products and services that help companies build greater brand loyalty and customer stickiness.