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As part of any modern CX strategy, Customer Service is perhaps the most important aspect to enhance the value of a brand . Organisations that spend seven figures on Marketing and Sales to puff themselves up in order to attract new customers and yet fail to meet expectations once a customer has bought a product or service will find they will need to continually spend 7, 8 or 9 figures to capture new customers in order to replace those they have lost. Research shows that 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service and it is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer, so, do the maths, poor customer service is an expensive problem.

To further reinforce its value, the Customer Service function is rapidly becoming part of the Sales and Marketing engine itself. Potential customers evaluating a range of competitors online may ask questions via chat, review FAQ's and engage on service-related forums to gather information about whether they want to buy a product or service. If its hard to find an answer to a question or they see a lot of poor reviews then it can become hard to attract new customers with bubbly advertising when their personal experience is poor

In order to transform Customer Service into a driver of modern CX, we must first add to what Customer Service means in todays CX environment

Customer Service is public. Modern Customer Service is no longer a one-to-one discussion between a customer and an organisation. Good or bad service when instigated over social media can become very public and one-to-one rapidly becomes one-to-everyone. If done well, then a good service experience not only pleases the prospect/customer but also adds to the brand value for all others who are sharing the same experience. If done poorly then an organisation can do more damage than one customers poor experience

Customer Service and Marketing are best friends. A vital part of modern marketing is providing customers with the right information at the right time. Gone are the days when glossy brochures, store fronts or TV ads provided the information requuired for a prospect to make a decision. Today's prospects need access to detailed information on the product or service, and will make decisions accordingly. Today's consumer can make as much as 80% of their buying decision based on such research before they even walk in the store or select a product online. A lot of this product information is owned and provided by Customer Service teams. By understanding and tracking access to this information, Marketing teams can gain greater insight into which prospects to target and by working with Customer Service teams to modernise and innovate this content, Marketing have another tool to help convert prospects to customers

Customer Service Listen's and Learns. Modern Customer Service does not rely solely on customer satisfaction surveys to understand the sentiment of their customers. Nor does it rely on what customers actually tell them as, quite often, this is not a true reflection of what they feel. For example, if I am ringing to resolve a propblem about my mobile service I will be looking to resolve the problem as quickly as possible and will be happy to work with the customer service agent to resolve my problem. However, when I post my experience on a forum or via Facebook, I may have a very different attitude that reflects what I am really feeling and gives more of an insight as to whether I will buy again or churn to a competitor. Leading Customer Service organisations listen to social media to filter out specific problems for treatment or trends that point to underlying issues that need to be addressed.

So what should an organisation do to modernise Customer Service as part of its CX strategy

Build a Solid Knowledge Foundation. The first step in developing a modern customer service strategy is to build a meaningful foundation of knowledge to inform, advise and attract prospects and customers to your products and services. This needs to be available across all channels by which prospects and customers may request the information. By publishing great knowledge and content via a web, mobile or social channel you can not only delight those who prefer those channels but you can prioritise those who need a personal touch into the expensive contact centre. Furthermore by adopting a knowledge base that continually learns, tags and publishes relevant content across channels you can give your customers and entire customer service team access to the right information at the right time all the time.

Any Time, Any Place, Any Where, As hinted above, real customer service has to be available any time, any place, anywhere...a 9-5 Mon-Fri contact centre alone will not cut it when your prospects and customers are on their mobile or web researching your competitors products whilst watching your own TV ads at night. What that means is that an organisation needs to have a solid 24x7xglobal customer service capability. The good news is that with the advent of a digital web based culture, more and more people prefer online customer service (which would be more cost effective to implement) than having to call a contact centre. This doesn't mean the modern contact centre goes away...far from it. By using modern social and chat channels to drive customer engagement, modern customer service functions can deliver cost effective and personalised service in a far better way than calls alone. The key is to blend customer contact preferences and value so that everyone is happy (including the CFO)

Be The Medium and Not The Message. The final part of what a modern customer service strategy needs to contain is in fact the easiest of all. Being the medium and not the message (to paraphrase Marshall Mcluhan) means creating a space where prospects and customers can collaborate and share their problems, experiences and knowledge with each other without censor. This not only helps customers help each other, meaning less intervention required by service agents, but also creates an environment where customers feel they get a sense of togetherness that they may not get with a competing brand.
Obviously if these experiences are mostly negative then this can be a double edged sword but at least such a trend can be quickly identified and managed better than if these discussions are happening elsewhere.

There is no doubt Customer Service has and needed to evolve. From 'Ye Olde Call Centre' environments of the past, Customer Service functions are digital, social, always available and a vital channel for Sales and Marketing.

Modern CX organisations recognise this and build powerful multi-channel knowledge-driven platforms that attract, inform, serve and delight prospects and customers

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A look at how modern CX tools, techniques and strategies can help organisations add value to their brand and improve customer acquisition and loyalty in the face of a commodotised online world

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