It might be 2019, but the path to customer loyalty hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1800s.
Retail and support are no longer always personal, but consumers still crave tailored experiences.
86% of customers say their purchasing behavior is affected by tailored experiences. 67% are highly in favor of personalized offers & coupons.
Remembering a name & giving 2 pennies off a weekly order is no longer the name of the game. But consistent, personalized service & special treatment for being a regular remains the way to a customer’s heart (& wallet).
The problem is providing this at scale. And it’s a big one.
Only 12% of companies surveyed in 2018 were happy with their personalization efforts across all channels.
But by making full use of data & customer insights, you can create a consistent, personal support experience on every channel.
Here’s how you can do precisely that, laid out step by step.
Avoid Duplicate Tickets & Negative Interactions by Properly Integrating All Channels
Just providing support on multiple channels doesn’t mean you’re doing omnichannel support effectively.
Depending on the nature and urgency of an issue, a customer might contact you multiple times.
67% of consumers have reached out to a company on social media for support. They often couple social requests with email or other tickets.
A lot of Twitter requests for support are cries for help because the company ignored them on another channel.
The customer is frustrated their ticket has not been answered yet, and thinks going public will help speed things up.
Like in this case, where Zoom didn’t reply to a support ticket for several days.
The problem for many companies is that customer support channels are often “siloed.” Each channel has its own dedicated staff and system. The data is not stored in the same place or searchable by the same tool. These tools need not necessarily be heavy on the pocket even a free help desk software would do the trick.
This lack of consistency can lead to a very frustrating experience for the customer. Every time they change the support channel, they lose all context and have to start all over again. (Which is not how to win their loyalty.)
By integrating all channels into a single helpdesk, and quickly cross-referencing social requests with existing email tickets, you can avoid negative interactions like the one below.
If they had an integrated support desk, a quick search for the name of the customer could have located the ticket in question.
Then without requesting the ticket #, they could have the ticket resolved and then report back the positive news on Twitter.
Instead of turning a negative into an even bigger negative, using an integrated approach could have helped to turn it into a positive.
Freshdesk helps you integrate all channels, from social, email to calls in a single helpdesk.
Use Data & Integrations to Get the Right Customer Support Rep on the Case Asap
Nobody likes having to repeat themselves.
And yet that’s exactly what most companies force their customers to do when looking for help.
A typical support flow looks something like this:
- You contact “general customer support” who can usually only deal with simple issues.
- It’s not a simple issue, so this customer support rep then makes the call on who to forward you to.
- Then you start explaining from the beginning again.
- Repeat until finally resolved.
According to Accenture research, not that it was necessary, 91% of customers hate this repetitive process. (And the other 9% were probably just being polite or checked the wrong box on accident.)
And in Microsoft’s 2018 study, 33% of global consumers said the most frustrating aspect of a bad support experience is not being able to get it solved in one interaction.
Translation: Customers want the first rep they reach to solve their problems.
To achieve that, data & integrations become a valuable ally.
Example 1: Use Customer Data to Connect Customers with the Most Experienced Rep on Relevant Products
If you get a support request through an official channel, you can avoid a negative experience by immediately matching them with someone experienced in the products they’re using.
This will make the interaction faster and friction-less from the very beginning.
Look at how Slack’s support staff answers a fairly technical request in less than 3 hours on Twitter:
You can achieve this using Freshdesk’s smart ticket assignment functionality. This way if people send a request using specific technical keywords, you can make sure it automatically reaches the technical support team.
Example 2: Integrate Your Software with your Helpdesk to Alert Technical Support Team of Bugs & Crashes.
If you have internal bug & crash reporting set up in your desktop software or app that integrates with your intranet, you can set up an integration that alerts technical support as well as just the debugging team.
The needs of the customers differ from company to company, so the way you use integrations & customer data might not be the same.
But that doesn’t change the potential of this approach to improve the support experience for your customers dramatically.
Pro tip: Through Zapier, Freshdesk integrates with almost any tool you can think of. From Gmail, Slack, Asana & Trello to good ol’ Excel.
You can use these to make sure that tickets include relevant information which makes sure the ticket reaches the right rep.
Use Customer Insights and Analytics to Prioritize Channels and Adapt Your Omnichannel Strategy
Different businesses, products, and customers have different service and support needs. While 71% of younger consumers are happier away from the phone, 50% of people 55 and up still preferred it as their main customer support channel. And this study was done in 2018.
And age isn’t the only concern here. Your product or service you provide has a significant impact on which type of support will be the most valuable to your customers.
If you’re a retail business dealing mainly with clothing & the extent of your service requests are returns and product complaints, social media & chatbots will probably be big channels for you.
Just take a look at what Zappos is doing and how much weight & resources they’re putting into social media support. (Even non-direct queries and posts get answered in minutes.)
But if you sell a technical product to large-scale farmers, mostly 40 and up, imitating Zappos will likely do more harm than good.
If you take a look at industry leader John Deere’s support website, it’s clear that they value in-person support first, followed by phone and email.
Their customer base is older, and because of the nature of their products, they know they can’t rely on cheap fixes like half-automated social media or chatbots. Because they take their customers seriously and remain customer-centric, they stick to more personal channels.
Without the brunt of the support weight on social media, they can stick mostly to replying to positive interactions on Twitter.
And if you’re part of a SaaS or another kind of software-driven business, your support profile could be completely different. You might have to focus more on alternative channels, like Github and Stack Overflow.
Use your unique customer insights to prioritize channels that already do the heavy lifting for you, and ones that show promise for the future.
Integrate your helpdesk with your CRM tools to check the impact of different channel interactions on customer loyalty and lifetime value. (Freshdesk integrates with a whole host of CRMs.)
For insights beyond demographics in the short term, you can do surveys post-interaction. Survey results can be strong early indicators of long term results.
For example, you might find that you could resolve more tickets more quickly by only doing social media tickets. But that the customer satisfaction after each interaction is minimal.
But the most valuable feedback is the long term impact on customer loyalty and lifetime value.
Help Your Agents Improve & Find Their Niche with Analytics, Data, and Automation
According to a recent Microsoft study, the biggest support priority for American consumers is the knowledge and ability of your customer service agents.
39% of consumers feel that a knowledgeable agent is the key to a good experience, and 40% think the lack of such knowledge is the leading cause of a bad customer service experience.
So how can you use technology to ensure that your agents grow and improve?
It starts with measuring.
By using analytics and data, you can help your agents not only stick to their strengths, but quickly identify key weaknesses that they need to work on.
But don’t get lost measuring and improving the wrong things.
In his book “Performance Basics”, Joe Willmore mentions how a company measured & made call length a priority, rather than resolution time & favorability scores. Average call times went down yes, but most agents became sloppy as a result. This lead to multiple short calls per support request, 2,9 on average, and less happy customers.
So it’s vital that you measure the right metrics and make that clear from the beginning.
With the right data, you can get the absolute most out of every single agent. It helps them develop a particular skill set and enjoy their job more.
You might also find that some agents resolve issues more quickly on one channel. For example, they might be faster on social media than average, but slower/have a lower resolve rate on calls. Or they might not be any faster or slower, but get higher scores for customer satisfaction on specific channels.
A big part of optimizing your customer service approach is to send the right job to the right person automatically, and have the right reps on the appropriate channels.
But creating a system that tracks the performance of your reps and the quality of their interactions is a massive challenge.
If you’re a small business, it may even seem entirely out of the question: too much money and manhours required to get it done.
But the good news is, Freshdesk can help with that.
Freshdesk automatically measures Customer Service agent performance in multiple metrics, and combines them with gamification to improve individual agent productivity.
You can also record calls, and all text-based tickets are saved in our database and easy to review. This makes it easy to go through the history of your agents in-depth as well as at-a-glance.
With this data at your fingertips, you can work with your agents to set up an automated work-flow that assigns different tickets to different people based on skills/experience. Which happens to be another feature of Freshdesk.
Use Data to Provide a Consistent Experience Across All Channels
Lack of consistency is a business killer.
69% of consumers expect and value consistency in customer service between online and retail store locations. And 72% value consistency in the range of products offered.
For example, imagine if the GNC customer arrived to return this in store, only to have to have a long conversation about it all over again. The customer is already frustrated and upset, and GNC would likely lose their business for life.
Versus, arriving at the store, a note in their system on the purchase tells the staff to refund without issue. So they handle it painlessly.
Negative experiences like this offer an opportunity to create a happy ending and increase customer loyalty. But only if you can remain consistent across all service channels.
For example, just by having the option of returning exchanging in any store, this customer was left satisfied even though it took 2 whole days for Suit Direct to answer the question.
Because of Freshdesk’s integrations, you can easily set up a workflow that informs all relevant parties/systems in these situations. This will help you create a consistent experience in-store and online.
If you have already confirmed the order validity online, make it easy for the customer in-store.
Through Zapier, we integrate with various CRMs and other management software as well as databases. So you can easily make sure that all support teams are on the same page across channels.
Omnichannel has been the biggest buzz-word of customer support for the last 5 years.
But just being on every channel is not enough. If you can’t create a consistent, positive customer experience across channels, it will only have a negative impact on your business.
Use customer insights, tests & data to gradually improve the way you deal with customers on all channels, and they will thank you with their loyalty for years to come.