Digital is Core to a Great Customer Experience

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Empowering your customers to be consistently within easy reach of around-the-clock services is what will secure the future success of your business. What this means is that businesses need to put more effort into a seamless customer experience across all contact points.

 

For most people now, the mobile phone / smartphone is their most used / accessible device - typically within arm’s reach at all times. Already several individuals have huge parts of their lives entirely committed to their smartphones - using a variety of life/work management apps, sites and services. For most companies still though, their web / digital presence is little more than a calling card.

 

I’ve previously written about the disconnect in retail between high street stores and their corresponding websites. When you buy something in-store, currently none of that data is conveyed to your online account. Say you shop in-store and online for Waitrose - would it not be good to be able to review everything you had bought - with seamless reminders, prompts and relevant offers and incentives provided for both destinations. Apple has invested much in their iBeacon technology which has yet to see major roll-out beyond the USA. iBeacon is just the sort of service which can help consolidate the in-store experience with online.

 

Much has been written about the accessibility of the web - the fact that you can connect and buy something at any time of any day. However, customer services are usually only active during daylight hours. Larger companies can afford to extend their provision by sourcing customer service operatives in other timezones, but this is not really within reach of smaller companies.

 

Smaller companies need to rely more on sales, marketing and service automation. To be able to provide a superior customer experience 24/7, the website and corresponding apps need to take up the slack for off-duty hours. There is a real need to develop more clever and intuitive automated services (self-service) which can guide customers through issue resolutions. This also means that you need to be empowered to do everything online. There are still way too many government and bank services where you spend hours online filling in forms, only to be summoned into a local branch to repeat much the same process under personal supervision. Lots of services still require you to phone up to make a request / report a fault etc. If you are in need of repair or resolution services - you should be able to book an appointment online - on a smart automated interface - and you should receive regular status updates via SMS or email - much like the modern taxi services which send through full gps/location data, driver and vehicle details.

 

Regardless of their many reported faults, Icelandic banks are far better at keeping their customers consistently informed. SMS messages get sent out when significant amounts are paid into or out of your account, and when various limits are reached or over-stepped. With UK banks you normally just get a nasty phone call when you’ve overstepped the mark - no kind of prior alert at all. Most businesses can benefit by utilising customer service alerts in an intelligent manner.

 

Here are some of the key areas businesses should invest in:

  • Inform & Alert - SMS and email notifications for service status updates
  • Seamlessly segue from business/store to web - All service details correlated at all destinations for full comprehensive transparency
  • Automated Responses - Automated website services which intelligently handle and solve majority of customer issues outside daylight hours
  • Intuitive Self-Service Interfaces - Customers should be guided via simple step-by-step automated processes
  • Expert Community - Provide Forums and Messageboards so that the more informed customers can help others
  • Customer Representative - Companies should have a figurehead who champions customer causes
  • Membership - Provide value-added subscription which gives access to further / higher level services
  • Ticketing System - Fully traceable issue-handling system which outlines all participants and steps in the process
  • Reward & Recognition - Actively reward and recognise customers for their services to your company - e.g. for brand advocacy
  • Incentives - Put in place incentives which encourage customers to help and assist each other, just providing facilities is rarely enough
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