Today companies are not likely to achieve customer loyalty without investing the necessary resources to significantly improve the customer experience when purchasing products and services from the company. Today, digital channels are already the first choice in most customer interactions, and it’s critical that companies adequately prioritize their digital customer service in order to accommodate the change in customer preferences. Especially as customers today are placing much more of an emphasis on a positive customer experience than on a price or even product quality. In fact, VisionCritical states that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product quality as the key brand differentiator.
Let’s look at the reasons why digital customer service should be top priority in 2017 and beyond:
Changing Consumer Behavior
Today, before making any buying decision, consumers have access to as much information as they want across many channels. In fact, two-thirds of consumers research more companies and brands before making a purchase than they did 10 years ago. At the same time, just as consumers are more and more relying on digital channels to make instant purchasing decisions, they also expect to use those same channels to receive instant customer service and sales support. What this all means is that, as omnichannel retailing is becoming the future of business, customer loyalty to the brand is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve because customers no longer have any patience to tolerate slow or deficient customer service and sales support. In fact, according to Forrester, 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question, while 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. The bottom line is that if your company is not yet prioritizing digital solutions to deliver immediate and efficient customer service, you are, in fact, pushing them to give their business to your competition instead.
It is no secret that mobile devices are quickly becoming the largest customer engagement channel. A U.S. Mobile App Report reported that activity on smartphones and tablets accounts for an astounding 60% of digital media time spent in the U.S., and in 2016 mobile search queries outnumbered those made from a PC by more than 27.8 billion. With such intense growth in mobile device usage, customers now expect to access a company anywhere, anytime, while seamlessly connecting from their mobile to customer support. Therefore, businesses looking to maintain their competitive edge will need to prioritize a “mobile-first” mindset to enhance their mobile apps with customer service capabilities, and enable their customers to interact with agents while leveraging their mobile devices visual interface.
For any business, one of the primary challenges with the operational effectiveness of customer service is being able to effectively handle a large volume of customer complaints and requests. A high volume of callers can mean crowded phone lines and long wait times, which is not efficient or cost-effective, and can cause a business to lose customers. The good thing is today, while many consumers still prefer calling companies by phone, among Millennials and younger generations particularly, the internet is becoming the preferred method of communication. By prioritizing live chat customer services, companies can more quickly and efficiently resolve complaints and questions, and provide an all-around better customer service experience. In fact, a recent eDigital Customer Service Benchmark survey of 2,000 consumers found that live chat had the highest customer satisfaction levels at 73%, as compared to 61% for email support and only 44% for traditional phone support. For any company looking for an efficient strategy to their customer service and profit improvement, prioritizing live chat support is a must.
Part of the digital business transformation taking place is that customers increasingly expect companies to address their customer services issues on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, eMarketer recently predicted that Facebook and Twitter will account for one-third of all digital advertising by 2017. Since it’s clear that companies are investing big time in social media advertising, it also stands to reason that these companies must prioritize their customer service support on this channel as well. In fact, according to recent Nielsen's Social Media Report, nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or to complain, and a third of social media users prefer "social care" to the phone. While companies have been slow to come around, social media customer support needs to be a big part of any company’s strategic planning in 2017.
The changing consumer combined with the changing digital landscape means the time is now to prioritize your digital customer service. The results will speak for themselves.Forrester: http://blogs.forrester.com/kate_leggett/15-04-23-contact_centers_must_go_digital_or_die