Current research suggests that by the year 2020, customer experience – rather than product or price point – will reign as the most significant brand differentiator.
A company’s success the next decades will depend on its ability to provide a next-generation level of customer service in a climate of rapidly evolving digital and mobile technology.
In what follows, we’ll look at five ways to make sure your team isn’t left behind in the rush to reshape the customer experience to fit the dynamic purchasing environment of the future.
1. Develop Interaction With Customers Across a Range of Platforms
It’s essential to recognize the ongoing and proliferating multiplicity of options that today’s consumer has at his or her disposal. Even brick-and-mortar businesses such as restaurants and clothing boutiques are enabling their customers to make instantaneous purchases on mobile devices from anywhere in the world.
The next step is to integrate the mobility of today’s online purchaser with the ubiquity of social media. This means connecting with customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other popular social sites. You can post information and updates, answer customers’ questions, and even use these sites as a gateway to secure online purchases.
Gartner reports that, ” Over the last decade, organizations have disengaged with customers by moving to lower-cost channels such as websites, portals, interactive voice response (IVR) and other forms of self-service so that over 80% of customer service interactions now no longer involve talking to an employee.”
This omni-channel approach enables you to connect with your customers wherever they are, whenever they feel inclined – which can be at any time of the day or night.
2. Integrate Digital and Physical Aspects of Customer Experience
In connection with the above, it’s important to remember that while more and more of the customer experience has moved online, today’s customer still appreciates the human element of the customer experience. Especially when they encounter a problem, customers want to see a customer service representative’s face, or hear their voice.
Capitalizing on the digital marketplace does not have to mean surrendering the traditional aspects of customer service. The key is to combine the best features of each – the speed and accessibility of online customer experience with the warmth of in-person attention – in order to provide a seamless customer experience.
3. Enable Users to Customize their Online Experience
As much as possible, in SaaS and similar applications, provide options for customers to personalize their accounts. This could include visual details, demographic information such as location or gender, and a variety of personal preferences. This allows the customer to fine-tune the application to fit what they want to get out of it. And the more closely it matches their expectations, the more satisfying their customer experience will be.
4. Effectively Gather and Analyze Customer Feedback
You can often use account specifications to aggregate customer data, which is an invaluable asset to any company in creating a high-quality 21st-century customer experience. It’s of paramount importance to gather as much information about, and feedback from, your customers as possible. This includes call center questions and opinions, in-person comments, online surveys, email responses, and so forth.
Keep in mind that the simpler the feedback mechanism, the more likely it is that the customer will use it. As much as possible, integrate customer feedback right into the customer experience, giving them opportunities to let you know how you are doing even during the process of using your service.
The next step is to use the array of data you gather to glean meaningful information that can help you achieve tangible results in improving the customer experience. Focus on which aspects of customer experience tend to be most satisfying for your customers – and which tend to be the least.
5. Use Contextual Guidance to Meet Customers Where They Are
Finally, it’s critical to consider the importance of contextual guidance. Nowadays and in the future, your customer will engage with your service across a range of platforms, and might access it from a variety of possible entry points. They might reach your product through an outside referral or service; they might be interrupted during their customer experience and be forced to return later. Next-gen customer experience is about being able to meet the needs of such customers in real time, no matter the environment they are in.
Gartner analyst, Jim Murphy writes that “A foundation for context-aware computing is required for a UXP. As a starting point, most organizations will need to employ personalization to deliver relevant information and applications based on the user’s role, the device they’re using or their location.”
Indeed, according to recent Salesforce research 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase. A good customer experience occurs when that support is provided quickly, whatever the specific context. This means customer support also needs to be available across a range of devices – via mobile, tablet, phone, and so on.
In the future, customer experience will be about fitting your product to a particular individual and their situation, rather than forcing the individual to align themselves to your product. Contextualizing customer experience gives the customer the impression that you understand their specific situation and needs. And that feeling is what will keep customers returning to your service or product.