When you hear "customer service" most of us now think "multichannel". Forbes recently posted an article about creating a foundation for excellent customer service using these multiple channels and how to implement your own customer service plan. A summary of that article is below:
Consumers today combine research and shopping into one continuous process… with most of it happening online across a range of devices. The expectation is relevant information 24/7 and to get consistent, up-to-date and accurate information from any channel they use – before, during, and after the purchase. Not only do customers expect current information that can answer their questions through any channel, they also want you to anticipate their every step and need.
Companies still underestimate the impact that the quality of customer service has on their relationship with their customers and prospects. Customers have much more leverage today. They can find most of the pre-purchase information they want online, relying less and less on sales people and direct interaction with companies. In fact, most buyers would prefer to never interact with a sales person or directly with a brand.
This turning of the tables is, to most companies, something to lament; a disadvantage, a rupture in the marketing/sales continuum upon which so many companies are structured. Smart companies turn this into an advantage but only if they are prepared and take a proactive approach to support.
But how can companies create a seamless omnichannel experience to meet (if not exceed) customer expectations?
3 Basic Guidelines to Implement to Create a Foundation for Excellent Customer Service
1. Stash All Your Knowledge in One Place
Create a centralized knowledge repository for all of your product information, supported by a methodology and workflow for true collaboration. Traditionally, this information has been siloed within separate departments and not accessible from a unified view or by everyone. This prevents customer support agents or channels from having all of the information they need.
Important information from a centralized customer database should also be integrated so customers and agents have a viewable transaction history. In order to keep content fresh and relevant, let customers prioritize updates and create new content based on an ongoing reference to content analytics.
2. Give Everyone Access to the Single-Truth
Develop a cross-channel strategy so that all of your customer-facing channels have the same information and make it so it can be updated quickly and consistently by anyone. You want to make sure that your website, call center, retail outlets – and even your partners — have the same information at the same time. This eliminates customers getting different versions of the truth through different channels.
This can be tricky when you are combining information from many experts and outside channels. We all know how frustrating it can be when you move to a different channel and get different information! Having APIs that enable easy integration with any customer-facing system is critical. That makes the solution an easy-to-connect plug-and-play platform that delivers consistent messaging through all channels.
3. Don’t Ask Your Customers to Take a Leap of Faith
Stay with the customer throughout their buying journey and after the purchase. Many companies forget about the customer after they’ve made the purchase, but the post-purchase experience is just as important as the pre-purchase. Customers who have a bad support experience are far more likely to spread their unhappiness through social channels, blogs, and other avenues… which influences others to go to your competition.
Dumb Support is dead, Smart Support is the new mantra.
Dumb support is online support based on FAQs that are often static and outdated. Smart Support is self-improving so customers get the benefit of seeing what other customers as and the answers provided by everyone – from the vendor, partner, and customers.
Enabling customers to find the right answers quickly can make the difference between making a sale and lose a customer forever. If customer acquisition and retention are your goal, Smart Support is the winning strategy.
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