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If you mention “Yoda” to anyone in the world – regardless of their Star Wars knowledge or fan status – and they’ll likely picture an infinitely wise little old green guy with pointy ears wearing a robe that fights like a ninja, but walks like my grandmother. Well we are not pretending to be Yoda, but we do know a lot about online customer service and awakening the Force that is exceptional customer experiences.
And beyond 2000, in this twenty first century, how wonderfully seamless our world has become. Consider how we take things for granted, that is, until they don’t work. We don’t shout out how amazing our phones are, every time we use it to make a phone call, search the web or pay for something. But when we have no signal, when we frantically point our phones towards the sky like a scene from the Lion King …
The same can be said about online self-service. Self-service might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, especially when it’s working effortlessly, almost invisibly in the background. When self-service works efficiently, customers get answers to their queries fast, reducing the stress in contact centres, allowing agents to deal with more complex queries.
It’s a proven fact that in our ‘always-on’ world, customers have high expectations from brands with regards to customer service and that they prefer to not have to speak with someone to resolve a query. Self-service is one of the first steps that companies need to get right if they want to provide exceptional customer experiences.
When given the choice of ordering flat packed furniture or the same item already assembled for the same price – having to assemble endless pieces, would not be the top choice for most people – (unless you’re the President of the National Flat Pack Furniture Assemblers Association)
The same principal applies when we are looking for answers online. We scan a page, decide and click. We want the right answers, fast and first time round with the least amount of hassle. That’s what self-service should be. Clean, simple and concise regardless of the technology you use to access it.
But self-service is only part of the customer experience journey. Multiple contact channels require brands to have a clear customer service strategy in place to enable them to deliver on customers’ expectations. It has become clear to us that many companies still struggle to devise a good strategy with so many factors involved, e.g. legacy systems, having channels just for the sake of it, or not really understanding how to optimise channels to work in a non-siloed approach.
Why not download our guide to the galaxy that is 'Multi-channel Online Customer Service for Dummies' or book your complimentary seat to one of our free ‘best practice’ events where you can discover:
- Some common CX mistakes that could be driving your customers away
- Why the customer’s overall experience Is Mission-Critical
- How technology/channels are changing the basic relationship between an enterprise and its customers
- How technology can be used to create perception and emotion
- Cost-effective ways to significantly improve CSAT, NPS, FCR and other key metrics
- And much more
When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin set out to land on the moon, the Apollo 11 computers had less processing power than a mobile phone. During that same time, customer service was limited to landline calls, letters, fax or in-store visits. Then came the web and the world suddenly became a lot smaller, more connected and busy.
Euston we have a problem
Having just received another automatic update from Virgin Trains for travel information it appears Euston (that’s the UK train station) really has a problem with overrunning engineering works. How did we ever survive without customer service technology – technology that not only assist customers in finding information fast, but could also prevent an influx of calls into a contact centre?
The value of what customers spend online is increasing, resulting in an increase in the number of orders, parcels, returns and the pressure on customer service departments. On our ‘always on’ planet, customers expect instant, right answers to questions on a range of products, services, bills, or where their orders might be.
Technology is empowering and advancing both customer behaviour and their customer service expectations, requiring brands to push the limits on what they can do and what can be accomplished. However in reality, many brands are finding it hard to move forward to deliver out of this world customer experiences.
I wonder how many attempts failed before Neil Armstrong took the first ever step on the moon. How long did it take to find the right combination of technology, dedication, attitude and people to finally push through the limits and win the race that had America make history?
The same principle could be applied when trying to enhance customer experiences. Investing in a good customer service strategy combined with having the right technology in place, is key to having a competitive advantage, but it doesn’t stop there. Pioneers don’t get stuck. They continuously move forward. Just because you were successful in one mission doesn’t’ mean you can relax.
Customer service/customer experience pioneers like Jeff Bezos has just taken the crown from John Lewis (well known as the best British company for customer service). According to the semi-annual index from the Institute of Customer Service this is the first time in seven years that John Lewis has toppled out of the top three places to sixth, with Amazon moving into first place.
And others are taking notes from Amazon’s passion to deliver customer satisfaction. Cineworld was the highest riser among the top 50, increasing its score by eight points, climbing 115 places to the 50th slot. Jaguar added 7.2 points to its score, rising 110 rungs to 34th place, while GiffGaff improved its score by 6 points and climbed 84 places to number 27.
“Often unencumbered by legacy systems and processes, challenger brands are gaining on their larger competitors by offering straightforward, personal, seamless and quick service experience,” said Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service. “This is reshaping the competitive environment around customer service and removing barriers to entry to create a real opportunity for smaller organisations to succeed against larger rivals.”
Beam me up Scotty
At 86 years old, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, in an interview once said’ “We should go boldly where man has not gone before. Fly by the comets, visit asteroids, visit the moon of Mars.”
When it comes to customer experience, brands too should not look back. If they want to succeed and profit they can’t stop now and say that’s good enough. “A ‘one size fits all’ customer experience is delivering diminishing returns and diluting valuable customer relationships,” says Jo Causon, ICS Chief.
Emulating great customer experience might appear alien for companies who have neglected their customers for years. Fear not, as Synthetix has created a special edition, free 30 minute read page turner to enlighten and awaken Multi-Channel Online Customer Service to humanity. Just click here to download the eBook or request a printed copy.
And for those of you following British space traveller Tim’s mission – he finally shared a video on Facebook of himself answering the most popular question about his journey. “Take the cap off, turn on the fan and the air flow keeps everything going down the pipe,” he says, holding up a tube connected to a special space toilet.
“Simple as that.”
Festive online customer service?
‘Buddy the elf, what’s YOUR favourite colour?’ For even the most festive of us, who loves Christmas, sometimes the festive season can feel a bit overwhelming. With bargain hunters sad that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ghosts from a Christmas past, retailers are gearing up for the next big event on the Christmas calendar, Boxing Day.
But we are not rushing to the glittery tinsel tantalising shop windows on the seasonal High Street. We are spending our time online, choosing to shop via the internet, doing our research, hoping to find that perfect gift – or at least something that won’t need to be exchanged or returned in the New Year.
With the Christmas season starting earlier each year it’s no surprise that Boxing Day sales too, have started as early as mid-December this year.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Experian-IMRG expects 2015 UK online shopping figures for November and December figures to exceed £27bn. That’s up by 37 percent from just three years ago. And Verdict Retail forecast 44.9 percent growth in online spending over the next five years as it becomes a bigger proportion of all our shopping.
According to Google, 2015 has been the most connected holiday shopping season ever. 78% of consumers reported that they researched their shopping on the net with a further 40% of consumers doing their shopping online. And big money was spent through small screens as 53% of consumers who shopped online, did so using their smartphones or tablets.
Stuff that turkey
As the value of what we spend online increases, so does the number of orders, parcels, and pressure on customer service departments. Being prepared for this online shopping phenomenon will be paramount to the success of an organisation, with almost one in four of this year’s online orders being placed in November and December.
Shocking figures from last year however, show UK retailers and logistics firms caught off-guard by this spike in online traffic – as shoppers held off buying until the last minute, still expecting to have good customer experiences – which resulted in delays, bottlenecks and thousands of disgruntled online consumers.
All I want for Christmas is a good customer service strategy
Investing in a good customer service strategy combined with having the right technology in place, is key to having a competitive advantage (and to prepare for the onslaught of customers eagerly wanting instant answers to questions on a range of gadgets or where their orders might be) helping to ease the pressure on contact centre agents, having to deal with an influx of enquiries via phone, web chat, e-mail and social media channels.
Our gift to you …
Christmas provides an opportunity for retailers to build consumer loyalty and trust if managed correctly. So Synthetix has a little pre-Christmas gift for customer experience advocates, the page turner that is ‘Multi-Channel Online Customer Service For Dummies?’
This book will help guide you to:
- Understand the challenges delivering effective online service creates
- Get an overview of the tools available to meet those challenges
- Discover the must-haves you need for effective implementation