Happy New Year to you! As we move into 2014, I spent some time thinking about the trends we’re seeing in customer experience and how they relate more specifically to customer service. Here are a few predictions I have for the coming year. Let me know what you think, too!
Easy & Accessible Trumps Delightful & Courteous
The usage of Customer Effort Score (CES), the measure of how much effort the customer has to put forth to resolve a customer service issue, will exceed the usage of the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) as the important measurement to determine effectiveness of your service delivery. Customers today expect service to be easy and accessible. And, even if you have the most courteous agents who are empowered to delight customers, if the process required a lot of effort from customers, they are more likely to turn to a competitor the next time they purchase. CES can also provide specific feedback into where to focus your improvement efforts, such as the time it takes to search for an accurate solution, or the effort it takes to return an item. It is a stronger predictor of customer loyalty.
2. Brand Equity and Trust is Built More During the Use Phase (Service and Support) of the Customer Lifecycle
Your brand’s promise is delivered when people use your product or service and it actually fulfills the need that drove them to your brand in the first place. The perception of the buying experience fades quickly but the perception of whether your product or service met my needs does not. We call this part of the customer lifecycle the “use” cycle, and a key part of this cycle is customer service. Customer Service is the #1 key mover of Net Promoter Score (NPS), the likelihood that a customer will recommend your product to someone else. This linkage between Customer Service and brand equity will drive higher investments in customer service as a key part of your organization’s marketing strategy.
3. Service and Support Interactions Drive Higher Conversion Rates in the Buying Phase
When people research a product during the buying phase, they often research how others feel about the product or service they received from your brand. This feeling is garnered during the “Use” phase of the customer lifecycle, and it is driven by the value they received from your product. Knowledge of how that product works and interactions with your brand post-purchase to solve issues influences customer recommendations. These recommendations are the #1 driver of conversion rates during the buying cycle.
Omni-Channel “Conversations” Differentiate in Customer Service
As customer expectations of anywhere, anytime service continue to rise, Omni-channel “conversations”-- the ability to switch channels but continue the conversation without repeating yourself--will become the differentiator in customer service. And, as the usage of mobile continues to explode, all “conversations” need to be able to be performed on a mobile device (Web Customer Service, Chat, Virtual Assistant, Collaboration, and Voice) and transition smoothly from the device to other channels when necessary.
5. “Big Data” Provides Real-Time Personalization and Actions
Big data has been the buzz for a few years now, along with the promise of personalizing interactions for increased conversions and customer loyalty. But, it’s more than just collecting massive amounts of data. It’s about the laser focus of analytics and decision tools for taking action on the specifics of it—for a specific customer. Predicting customer needs and being proactive in your engagement helps to drive a more effortless interaction. You should know why a customer is calling and the probability of an answer based on data you have about recent interactions across all channels. You should know where the customer is located and the availability of help in the area. And, all of this information shouldn’t “creep” the customer out, but should instead add value to the relationship with your brand. Your customers will be more likely to opt-in to reduced privacy if you can save them time and effort, helping them get back to fulfilling their needs.
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