The most important aspect customers look for in a brand is customer experience, with 51 percent of U.S. consumers having switched service providers in 2013 due to poor customer experiences (Accenture). With such high demand to make it all about the customer, how can you ensure that you meet customer expectations? How can you enhance your business’s online customer experience in order to increase satisfaction, loyalty and revenue?
We all know it: mobile is where your customers are. Look around you — how many people are engaged on their smartphone or tablet? What do you think they are doing besides texting or checking social media? They are probably browsing for a product or service. A 2014 Nielsen study says that 7 out of 10 Americans own a smartphone. With mobile device in hand wherever they are, your customers are increasingly likely to shop or do business that way (demonstrated by the 2013 Adobe Corporation’s The State of Mobile Benchmark, which says that people prefer to shop or do business on their smartphone or tablet over a laptop). It is no surprise, then, that a Google research survey found that 50 percent of customers look for mobile-friendly websites and would visit a site less often if it weren’t mobile-friendly — even if they liked the business. Obviously, customers expect to have the same smooth experience wherever they are, across omni-channel environments.
So, how do you ensure that your business provides that consistency in customer experience across all channels? Consider the following: if you provide live assistance through chat on your website, your customers appreciate that feature in your customer service. In fact, an eDigitalResearch Customer Service Benchmark found that live chat has the highest satisfaction level above all other channels. Knowing that, why not provide that same form of service on mobile devices — where most of your customers will be? Allow them to engage live with a customer agent while they are looking at your site on their mobile device. This would bridge two mediums of e-commerce that people ask for: a mobile-friendly website and live assistance.
The effortless user experience on mobile devices is critical for customer satisfaction. When chat is being used on the mobile device, it is optimal for the chat window to be transparent so the user can see the website behind it. When the screen real estate is limited, this transparency keeps customers mentally connected to the website they are browsing. Also, TouchCommerce best practices show that when the chat window is minimized, it is key for the customer to see the message indicator and scrolling chat — similar to a chat that the customer might have with a friend.
Online Engagement in Contact Centers
No matter how sophisticated your technology, your brand is only as good as your customer experience, your customer experience is only as good as your contact center, and your contact center is only as good as the agents your customers contact. Excellence in your agent staff comes from proper training and management alongside the technology it takes to create a seamless and efficient omni-channel engagement program.
- Omni-channel technology in the contact center. Lately, that’s been the buzzword — omni-channel. Customers make contact with your brand through multiple avenues, browsing your site on their PC or mobile device, shopping in your brick-and-mortar store, calling customer service on the phone, managing their own account through self-service, or chatting with your agents online, whether it is on the desktop or a smartphone or tablet. The options keep growing as your customers’ demand for convenience gets larger.
Omni-channel capabilities can make your contact center more efficient. For example, an agent who is speaking with a lower-risk customer on the phone should be able to gracefully guide that customer to using the self-serve options on your site and away from the phone, freeing your call agents up for higher-priority calls. This is only possible if the call agent can see what the customer is seeing on the website, bringing the two channels together.
- Serve your customers the way they prefer to engage. Your customer acquisition and customer care solutions should be growing with demand, so take down the dividing walls among automated guides, mobile, voice call and chat by enabling the agent to see the customer’s engagement history across all channels. If a customer decides to switch from using your automated guides to engaging in a chat, your agents need to know that customer’s journey without the customer having to repeat himself or herself.
- Help guide customers to self-service. Contact centers can significantly accelerate customer adoption of self-service through online engagement tools for an effortless omni-channel experience. For any customer service program, the goal is to reduce costs of the contact center while improving customer satisfaction. Enabling and accelerating customer adoption of self-service is an important requirement of the contact centers in the digital age of the customer.
- Management of the contact center. Whether your team is small or expansive, you need the right tools to monitor all online engagements efficiently. Your supervisors need a real-time view of program and agents’ performance as well as access to key performance indicators (KPIs) to quickly diagnose issues and fix them on an ongoing basis. This “omniscient” aspect enables supervisors to reach out to agents when coaching is required. Workforce management also involves knowing what time of day to staff more agents so that your team is able to handle multiple chat interactions in a timely, efficient manner.
But don’t stop at giving your supervisors all the power. It’s essential to empower your agents, as well, with technology that allows them to quickly and effectively manage multiple concurrent chats; to see custom scripts for a faster, more effective chat experience; and to use tools such as co-browsing to guide the customer through the buying process.
Finally, boost your power team with motivation to perform well: create an atmosphere of reward. Establishing a performance-based workforce produces results and even a little excitement as agents compete for the next big prize.
- Training within the contact center. Daily hands-on exposure to tools and methodologies that create a powerful and effective team is an essential element in developing your agent staff. Teach them the psychology of a customer and how to recognize the signs of frustration. Teach them how to relate to various personalities or demographics, practicing “chat-speak,” or knowing the proper words to use when chatting with a customer. For example, avoid negative words, use power words, get to the point without jargon and see from the customer’s perspective. Train with the intention of forming in your agents the “service” mentality. You may also wish to equip certain agents with specialized knowledge of different products or services. With use of automated guides, your customers can be routed to agents who will help them with their specific needs, creating a more efficient and productive experience for all involved.
Customer Analytics for the Digital Age
Understanding customers is a critical component in customer care. By utilizing tools and programs designed for analyzing data about your customers’ journey, you can learn their search behavior, study their demographics, and compare their likes and dislikes. Mining the data and providing analytic insights into each and every interaction can help you develop a customized plan and optimize your customer experience programs.
Always ask — are we providing a customer experience that is personalized and meaningful, productive and efficient, effective, effortless, and lasting? Make sure you study the data that tells your customers’ story and that of your business and the quality of service and products you provide. Analyze the data to begin writing your own story — to be in control of the plot. Proactively engage with your customers by personalizing each individual experience. Enhance the customer experience with verbiage that is befitting their personality, and guide them toward the products that fit their search behavior or offers that only they would be interested in seeing. And make sure that you select an online engagement partner that will help you mine the data and translate the right information into actionable insights.
While voice is still the core communication channel used in customer service today, digital channels and resources are quickly gaining ground. Solution providers that focus on progressive approaches to enhancing the omni-channel customer experience are well positioned to succeed in addressing customer demand and providing better customer experience.
— Bernard Louvat is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TouchCommerce, the innovative leader in omni-channel engagement solutions for market-leading brands. Driven to transcend the in-store customer service experience in an omni-channel world, TouchCommerce has perfected a proven approach fusing sophisticated technology with deep human expertise in an innovative, results-focused business model, accelerating incremental revenue for some of the largest multi-national companies, such as Comcast, T-Mobile, Virgin Media and many others (see www.touchcommerce.com/clients). Louvat came to TouchCommerce (then inQ) in 2005 with a vision to assist online shoppers to buy online. Drawing upon his specialty retail and online experience, he embarked on creating a set of innovative technology solutions to target, engage and assist online shoppers and returning customers and create a more personalized online shopping experience. Prior to TouchCommerce, Louvat was Co-Founder & CEO of Evolution Robotics, an idealab! company (sold to iRobot), CEO & Founder of Bizbuyer.com (sold to GE), GM at CitySearch, an idealab! company (sold to IAC), CEO & Founder of Office Depot France, President and Founder of The Disney Store France, and a consultant with Bain & Company. Bernard holds an MBA with Distinctions from Harvard Business School and a BA in Business Administration from HEC, Paris, France. For more information on TouchCommerce, please visit www.touchcommerce.com or contact the company at www.touchcommerce.com/contact-us. Follow Louvat at twitter.com/blouvat or at www.linkedin.com/in/blouvat.