Is your CX strategy consolidating your gains, or spreading itself too thinly?

Customer experience (CX) can have a big impact on your success as a business. A good experience can keep a customer coming back for years; conversely, a poor one will lead to lost business.

This can have a big material impact: according to the Institute of Customer Service, companies that provided customer service rated above the average saw higher sales – around 6.3% higher, based on the ICS UK Customer Service Index Executive Report for July 2018.

This is not a new trend: Bain & Company found a correlation between increasing customer retention rates and profitability in 1990, and again in 2000. A 5% increase in retention rates would lead to an increase in profits from anywhere between 25% to 95%, according to the company’s research. This led to the development of the Net Promoter Score to track how successful companies are at support.

With more competition between businesses than ever before, and with more spend heading online rather than the high street, being able to support customers effectively can provide significant improvements in profitability. New services like chatbots, live chat and social support can all expand the range of channels that customers can use.

However, making this work in practice takes more thought than simply adding in new channels for customers to reach you. Consolidating how you manage and control customer support can be just as important as offering more options. If it is not done properly, your attempt to improve customer support can backfire instead.

How having more channels does not automatically equal better service

Let’s create an example. You are about to go on holiday, and you want to check something about your hotel. Like many consumers, your first stop will be the website for the company you have booked with. A chatbot pops up, and – being an adventurous sort, keen to try new tech – you decide to give it a shot.

When you start asking questions, however, the chatbot doesn’t provide the answer you want. While it knows who you are, it isn’t able to respond effectively. Fair enough you might say – after all, it’s a new channel. The chatbot then suggests sending an email or calling through to a support operative.

You select phone. However, it doesn’t automatically connect you or help the submission along. Secondly, when you call through, that customer operator doesn’t have any of your details and has to ask the same set of questions and gather the same information that you provided to the chatbot already.

Repeating all that information is a headache for a customer, while it also immediately puts your customer support operative on the back foot. What started as a request for information through self-service has become a more in-depth ticket that is taking up more resource time. The customer may also be frustrated at having to provide all their details multiple times to get help with one issue.

Consolidating customer support management

Making customer support more effective involves integrating different channels so they all work to the best of their potential for the audiences you want to support. This involves getting good data from all your interactions with customers in one place, and ensuring that you have a well-planned customer support strategy that supports your marketing and positioning as a brand.

In practice, this means looking at new developments like chatbots as part of a wider customer and marketing plan. Firstly, any interaction with a chatbot can take over from a traditional customer support request. You should be able to see the number of issues which have been deflected by the chatbot. In our example above, the chatbot could automatically create a ticket and then assign this to the right contact who can answer the question. This would provide a more joined-up approach to service.

You can also gather data on how the interactions fared, which can be used for two purposes: firstly, the chatbot can be trained to answer that question, so that other customers with similar problems don’t have to go through the same problem. Secondly, the data should be used to demonstrate how the customer support team is performing. Rather than having multiple sets of data for each channel, you can consolidate your information on customer support performance to get better insight.

From a marketing perspective, customer support might seem like it is less important than brand building and qualification of leads. However, it can have a direct impact on how customers feel about the brand and whether they will continue to buy from you. Putting more thought into how customer support operates alongside marketing can help improve the support process over time. This can therefore deliver better support and more profitability over time.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about the Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) international event series, arriving in Amsterdam from September 19-20 and New York from November 7-8.

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