Behind the success of any business, there lies a critical element and that is customer service, a vital factor that can make or break an entire enterprise. With everything being digitized in this new era, customers are no more dependent on the brand or company for services. Why? because they have a myriad of options to choose from for a single product or service. And if they aren't satisfied with the experience, they are just a click away from the next available option.
In fact, 71% of consumers switched brands at least once in the past year because they didn’t have a good experience.
On the contrary, businesses only run because of people, so they need to shift their focus from processes to people. With the development/advancements in technologies, customers have become more informed than ever before. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have provided customers with a way to discuss their experiences with different brands. As the customer becomes even more empowered, it enhances the significance of the customer experience hence, demands a high quality of services.
So in order to survive in this cut-throat competitive world, businesses have to go above and beyond what they offer their customers to stand out from the crowd. They need to make sure that they're leveraging the best possible methods to deliver enhanced customer service.
The Transformation in the Customer's Journey
In the recent disruption that was caused by COVID-19, we witnessed a drastic shift in customer experiences. The way brands and their customers connect now has completely changed the concept of customer experience. Earlier, the customer experience was all about in-store interactions. The customer used to go to a shop to purchase, go through the items, pay the bill, and finally exit, all these interactions counted as the major part of the customer experience.
Now companies create multiple customer touchpoints at every stage to fully understand the requirements, nature, and concerns of the customer. They try to focus more on the customer's end-to-end journey rather than creating silos in the system.
Ever since the digital revolution, there is no doubt that the world has been dramatically transforming over the last few years. Even before the 2020 pandemic, it was already becoming increasingly digital – and the outbreak just paced this up. We have seen the transition from in-person interaction to digital spaces almost everywhere. People have digitized nearly every aspect of the human experience.
Instead of visiting offline stores, people can now easily avail anything with just a few clicks on their smart devices. Therefore, now every personalized push notification or website visit, or even conversation from the call centers have become a part of the customer's journey. Every bit of data that a customer shares with the enterprise act as a value exchange to deliver the best customer service. A good customer experience today is one in which the customer is taken through a connected journey.
How do you make that connection with customers?
For enterprises, the element that governs the outcomes of all their operations like marketing campaigns, sales deck, technology upgrades, and infrastructure scaling is the CUSTOMER.
There is no doubt that these components are essential while running a business but eventually, customers are the reason that any business exists. Therefore, ensuring exceptional customer experience(CX) acts as a major driving force for customer acquisition and retention. It can be even more vital than the products and services that one offers. To build that unwavering connection with their customers, companies need to become customer-centric, one that lives and breathes outstanding/unparalleled customer service.
Wufoo’s founder Kevin Hale quotes that there are three types of companies:
- one with the cheapest deals,
- one with the highest quality product, and
- one with the best customer service.
At the end of the day, all these types of organizations hold the highest value for their customers’ experiences. So, if you want your company to stand out and grow then you must follow one policy: making the customer happy. It’s not an easy task to become customer-centric, and just as commitment, loyalty, and honesty take time to foster, customer-centricity is nurtured over time.
What Makes The Best Customer Experience?
When customer service is inculcated into a company’s fundamental culture, providing great customer experience automatically becomes the first priority. The way you address and interact with your customer profoundly impacts the first impression of your business. Customer experience is the holistic image that customers form of your brand after every interaction.
Creating the best customer experience will not only help you to acquire new customers but also retain the existing ones (one of the crucial factors in stabilizing growth and profit). Therefore, how you treat your customer base will ultimately affect your bottom line.
Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning at Salesforce said:
“It’s more than call centers and successful responses to problems. It is service opportunities in sales, support, and marketing. Delivering great customer experiences now means providing amazing, almost magical service at every opportunity.”
With the surge in connectivity driven by digital services, 84% of customers expressed their opinions that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, and more than two-thirds (69%) expect connected experiences, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer research.
Here are the key factors for connected customer experience to build a satisfied and loyal clientele, and generate greater word-of-mouth publicity for businesses -
1) Consistent Human Interaction
With the new development in technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots may have taken over the interaction part, offering 24/7 availability but it can never surpass the human touch. The foremost requirement in enhancing customer experience is adopting a personalized approach. Customers find it really frustrating when they face issues in reaching out to a real person to solve their problems, hence leaving them with bad CX. Therefore, along with using AI, companies need to integrate other options of contact as well.
2) Friendly Attitude
Train your customer support team to be polite, friendly, and empathetic while handling customer problems. Make them feel that their issues are being addressed and that you value them. Have a genuine conversation with your customer. If you feel like your customer is stressed about something then ask if you can help in any way. These small gestures deliver a unique customer experience.
3) Convenience at just a few clicks
We are living a fast-paced life and barely have time to go shopping. Offering an easy-to-use environment where everything is compiled so that it becomes easier for the customers to spot what they are looking for, quick checkouts, etc. can greatly impact customer experience. Therefore, providing such comforting and easily accessible services make the customer experience all the more delightful for buyers.
4) Multi-lingual Support
With everything happening at lightning speed in the digitized world nowadays, many companies have overlooked one of the factors that greatly influence customer experience: The language barrier. Communication is a key that connects your company with your target audience, and yet, enterprises are not investing in it. Even a simple greeting in the native language of your customers can amp up their delight. Having chatbots that can interact even with simplified vocabulary add up to great communication leading to augmented customer experience.
5) Understanding your Customer
All the valuable data that the customers share can act as a building block of your customer relationships. With the thorough extensive history check and proper analysis of available data with the help of Business Intelligence (BI) tools, it can provide excellent insights. It is very crucial to understand how to use customer information so that it can be used for promoting a sublime customer experience.
When customer information is collected thoughtfully, companies can deliver remarkable experiences and deepen trust at the same time.
74% of consumers want honesty and transparency from the company in exchange for providing relevant personal information.
Customers demand visibility if they are providing their personal information about how the data is being used, and whether it will be safe and beneficial to them or not.
Econsultancy and Adobe's Annual Digital Trends report found that customer experience (CX) ranked first, leaving behind the content, video, or social marketing tools, in its appeal to buyers of today.
To better understand this connected customer experience, let’s dive in and check out some of the best real-life customer service examples that can inspire us all to improve our game.
The leading online retailer enterprise for clothing and shoes, Zappos has quadrupled its revenue after it enhanced its customer experience. Their only aim is to solve their customers’ issues, no matter what! They even conduct special programs to train their customer support team for six weeks before they actually start handling customer problems. Zappos goes out of its way to ensure its reps are unique. They encourage their employees to go script free and have genuine conversations other than usual order, exchange, and returns requests. They are instructed to rather discuss sports, current events, kids, pet animals; anything that helps them forge better customer relationships.
Their founder Tony Hsieh said in an interview: "Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes."
Customer service policies may seem more time-consuming and costly but if they help earn a loyal customer base in return, then it is a win-win situation for both parties. For any business, happy customers can only be a good thing.
Undeniably, Netflix is one of the best examples that give stellar customer experience. The way it leverages the latest technologies is something that goes out of the box. It is a data-driven company that uses AI, data science, and Machine Learning (ML) to make personalizations of not only movie recommendations but thumbnails as well.
Netflix's customers may not know themselves and what they are searching for but with an ML algorithm, Netflix offers content that users might be interested in watching next so they can continue engaging with the platform. By analyzing the watched history, it places personalized thumbnails for each particular user.
For example, this is how the thumbnails of Stranger Things look for me: a poster depicting a gritty character drama, while another is more like a horror, psychological thriller, sci-fi, or even kid's play.
If you want to build a great strategy for your company's growth then start with understanding what your customers are looking for.
McDonald’s was envisioned as a place after home and work where people feel most comfortable gathering. But recently there has been a steady decline in sales. So, apart from modifying their menu and focusing on higher-quality ingredients, they decided to tweak their marketing strategy. They shifted their focus to enhancing the customer experience.
They introduced new technology that made the customer journey easier – self-service kiosks. These kiosks are designed in a way where customers can simply order and pay using a digital screen, and get their order once it's prepared. These changes significantly improve the in-restaurant customer experience, reducing the time for waiting in the queue, and allowing people to get their food faster.
The potential impact of optimized customer experience is enormous, and yet, it is one of the most underspent areas of marketing. Research by PWC has clearly shown that consumers, significantly 86% of them, are ready to pay more in return for exceptional customer experience.
How Can You Improve Your Customer Service Strategy?
Customer experience acts as a major driving force for future revenue generation. According to the Temkin group, a company with $1 billion in annual revenues can generate additional revenue of $823 million if they start investing in improving customer experience.
Check out the four effective ways below to improve the customer experience:
1. Personalize, personalize, personalize!
Customers love products if they are specifically designed for them. Personalization helps in strengthening the bond between the brand and the customer and smoothens the customer's journey. This can easily be achieved with the power of AL/ML to know about customer data.
One of the popular campaigns that won the hearts of customers with their personalization strategy was the "Share a Coke" campaign in which 150 of the most popular names were printed onto millions of bottles. The purpose was to create a special bond with customers and bring shared moments of happiness.
56% of customers expect offers to always be personalized, according to Salesforce research.
Personalization is a prerequisite if you want to build a more personal relationship with your customers. Another example where you can observe the power of personalization is Spotify. With AI algorithms, it creates personalized playlists for its users based on their search history.
2. Follow one mantra- "Always be there for your customer"
To yield an enjoyable experience for your customers, you need employees who can help in creating a healthy environment for them. You need employees who can make your customers feel valued.
Famous American Poet Maya Angelou has exquisitely conveyed: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“
It all comes down to how you make your customer ‘feel’ when they reach out to you for help. Therefore, you need to change your strategy while handling customer problems.
Hire people who are empathetic, polite, and friendly so that they can easily tackle the situation where they need to deliver bad news like product unavailability, an expired coupon, features no longer available, etc., to the customers. Every customer is different, so sometimes it can be a difficult task to handle them. But employees must stay calm, hear them out completely, and try their best to solve the customer problems using positive language.
3. Analyze customer feedback to enhance CX
There are several ways to find out what customers actually think about your brand. You can use pop-up surveys, online forums, or social media platforms to observe your target audience.
Conduct a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to actually know how your customers feel about your service or product. You can interview customers, reach out via social media, send feedback forms, live chat, email, and many more. These are methodologies that you can use for your VoC analytics program. It will give you valuable insights that can help you create a better customer experience.
The major difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses is that successful businesses listen to the voice of their customer. If you understand your customers' needs then you can easily delight them by exceeding their expectations.
4. Treat employees like your customers
A happy employee is directly proportional to a happy customer. In order to deliver great customer service, you need to treat your employees well. If your employee feels valued by the organization then they are more likely to perform better and manage your customers well.
The following is one of the most striking examples that demonstrated that an organization relies not only on its customers’ emotions but also its employees’ feedback. The popular airline company Southwest Airlines preferred to give the first priority to their employees' well-being instead of focusing on the company's profit.
When the Covid-19 crisis hit, most airlines were laying off employees and cutting costs. But Southwest CEO proudly informed its employees:
“I want you all to know we will not furlough or lay off any Southwest employees on October 1 (when bailout funds expire), unlike our major competitors. Further, we have no intentions of seeking furloughs, layoffs, pay rate cuts, or benefits cuts through at least the end of this year.”
Additionally, to improve the workspace atmosphere, create an environment where employees can easily share their thoughts and concerns. As a manager or even a CEO, engage with them, conduct customer service skills training to boost their confidence, or organize any friendly competition to add an element of fun to their high-pressure jobs.
How to Remodel Customer Experience Strategy with Salesforce?
Salesforce is the most popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform in the market at present. Various companies have begun to enforce Salesforce into their system to improve customer relationships. It is a cloud-based software that brings companies and customers together.
Salesforce helps to break down the silos in the organization between departments so that wherever you are, employees in sales, service, marketing, and IT share a single customer data. This enables in-depth customer perception and understanding on one single CRM platform. Therefore, it is called Salesforce Customer 360 because it gives you a 360-degree view of your customers.
Since it helps in managing and improving customer interaction with your company, it automatically contributes in making a better customer service experience.
Customer relationships and their experience are the keys to your company's growth, so you need to manage them as efficiently and effectively as possible. So if your company isn't already using the Salesforce CRM platform, you're missing out on an opportunity to increase sales and the likelihood of repeat customers. In simple words, Salesforce is used to manage your customer interactions with your brand.
Here's how Salesforce helps other companies to remodel their customer service strategy-
1. Ease-of-use Platform
Salesforce offers services that can be easily used by various enterprises and companies. It is very flexible in nature and lets companies better cater their services to employees. It doesn't require users to learn programming languages to be able to understand its features, hence making it easier to use.
2. Quick Response Time
The number one frustration that customers face during their experience with any brand is- late response time. But with the help of salesforce, the response time can easily be reduced because of its quick accessibility.
3. Automated Marketing Interactions
It improves the customer experience by removing manual operation, hence saving time. You can set up automated responses to customer service emails and also create personalized services.
4. Store Customer Interaction Data
It keeps all the data in one single place, making it easier for employees to fetch the data of the customer. It also saves customers time by not having to describe their problems in detail over and over again.
5. Secure and Safe
Salesforce helps organizations to make sure that important customer information is neither lost nor hampered due to security invasions.
6. Easily Accessible
Employees can access customers' information from any location as long as they have an internet connection.
Salesforce provides a platform to other companies to manage their every department, existing customers, new customers, new opportunities, lead generation, and much more. If you want to create seamlessness during the customer experience then Salesforce is the exceptional starting point for organizations.
The Wrap- Listen to the voice of your customer
Customer expectations from any brand are higher than ever and companies are having trouble keeping up with them. It’s not a difficult task as long as you start showing genuine resolve to solve the customer's issue.
When you add CX and customer delight to your organization's culture, undoubtedly you start to thrive at entirely new heights. It's a given that an organization cannot exist without its customers, and this is the reason companies are focusing on how to improve customer experience, win new customers and, perhaps more importantly, retain existing customers.
Apple is the best example when it comes to delivering stellar customer experience. They create great products and carefully listen to the customer's opinions. Due to this, they have some of the most passionate and loyal customers in the world.
In order to elevate your customer experience, you need to start innovating ideas and products which will set new industry benchmarks. It's a domain that requires constant nurturing, so start focusing on continually building new customer experience strategies.