Enhance Your Customer Experience Strategy Via Digital-First Customer Service
By John Tenore
By 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator—and customer service is the number one factor in that experience. Today’s consumers are proving to be highly sensitive to the digital customer experience strategy that companies put forward. In fact, 66 percent of online adults in the U.S. say that the most important thing a company can do for them is to value their time by providing a good online customer experience.
This should come as a relief to many brands, because they recognize that their customer experience strategy is an area where they can outperform market behemoths like Amazon.
When done well, a digital-first support and customer experience strategy differentiates a brand by optimizing the customer experience and highlights the business impact of such a strategy.
How Consumers Define Quality Customer Service
More than half of all consumers now expect a customer service response within one hour, regardless of the day or time they are online. That may sound unreasonable until you consider the way modern consumers like to engage brands. Over half of consumers prefer to resolve customer service issues via self-service, and nearly all have engaged with bots in their personal and professional lives. That digital-first combination of self-service and bots – especially automated bots – can make speedy response times a reality for any brand. This has led Gartner to estimate that 85 percent of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020.
Speed is not the only factor when delighting consumers via your customer service channel. The quality of that customer service experience matters, underscored by your demonstrated knowledge/caring for the customer and their issue. Accenture found that 89 percent of customers become frustrated when they must repeat their issue with customer service representatives. Considering that six out of 10 customers are forced by brands to repeat themselves – per the Northridge Group’s 2018 State of Customer Experience report – that translates to millions of frustrated consumers. A digital-first strategy that remembers them and addresses their issues in a timely way is a great way to differentiate your brand.
Addressing The Disconnects Matters In Your Customer Experience Strategy
What is apparent from consumers’ voiced frustrations is that your brand must enable ongoing support conversations — whether your customer service agents are available to respond instantly or not. It is the optimal means for eliminating disconnects along the customer service journey. This calls for delivering an experience that is unified and connects all communication channels, as well as self-service and bot interfaces to complete the full journey. Deploying such a connected digital-first channel experience allows your customers to see their conversation history, pick up the conversation where they left off and not have to repeat themselves across different channels.
This unified strategy does not imply that live agents go away. Recall that it is digital first. With a unified approach, agents assist when needed in the digital channels – always with an option to escalate to live phone conversations when necessary.
The results of brands using our digital-first, unified customer service channels are impressive. For their agent-assisted digital channels like messaging, they have experienced dramatic improvement in response times when compared against their email and social media channels. On average, issue resolution times have dropped to just 18.5 minutes, down from the 70 minutes required on social media and the 411 minutes on email. They also virtually eliminate customer frustration, as all conversations pick up where they left off and continuously progress toward resolution.
The Revenue Impact of Digital-First Customer Service
As digital-first customer service optimizes customer experiences, brands can expect to improve in several vital areas that drive revenue: customer retention, engagement and spend. An impressive 86 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience while the exact same percentage will repurchase – a loyalty rate that is 6 times higher than for brands providing lower quality customer experiences. Considering all factors, McKinsey insights found that, on average, brands that improve CX Increase revenue by 10 to 15 percent.
Suddenly, a digital-first approach can turn customer service from its longstanding status as a cost center to a revenue generator for forward-thinking brands that understand the modern consumer.
Now Is The Time To Act On Digital-First
As today’s consumers grow more savvy and demanding in the way they interact with brands, customer service must evolve to a digital-first approach to offer the experiences their customers expect. There has never been a better time to transform your brand’s customer experience strategy to digital-first. The idea is likely to be well received, as nearly 90 percent of company leaders now view customer experience as a competitive differentiator.