Rapid swings in consumer brand loyalty is one of the most significant consequences of the digital-first era in customer service, where customer-brand conversations are no longer only one-to-one phone calls but also include public and private messages on dozens of social and digital messaging apps. This opens exciting new possibilities for both your business—and your competitors. When experiences and feedback can be so easily shared via social media, positive interactions and exceptional service can build momentum and create a community of brand advocates that are unflinchingly loyal. In fact, this year’s NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark study found that 83% of customers who have exceptional experiences are more willing to recommend that company on social media. But in contrast, one wrong step can be disastrous for brand stability and growth. Eighty-one percent (81%) who have a bad customer service experience say they are very likely to switch to a competitor.
As brands walk that razor’s edge, it’s up to the contact center to move customers in the right direction. That means speedy, effortless and personalized interactions across the full range of communication channels your customers prefer. Fully embracing digital channels like social media messaging, text and chat for customer service is truly a win-win for customers and brands. Digital channels can provide the fast, easy-to-use options that fit your customers’ lifestyles while also lowering the cost of service for your contact center.
If you want to leverage the power of a digital-first customer experience to create brand advocates who are eager to share their exceptional brand experiences with others, the following are a few tips.
Digital Service Is So Much More Than Email and Website FAQs
Consumers, likely yourself included, communicate with friends and family through a wide range of messaging or social applications, such as text, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. How often do you wait for a friend or your child to call you back without sending a message? Why should reaching out to a brand for customer service be any different?
The imperative to provide a digital-first customer service experience is especially important in connecting with millennials and Gen Z, who are highly fluent in the language and nuances of the platforms. Among these demographics, Dimension Data found that over 80% prefer digital messaging to voice. Breadth of choice in digital channels is also very important. Whether it be SMS text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or dozens of other popular applications, each individual customer’s communication preference is unique. Being able to offer accessibility through whichever channel customers prefer, and seamless omnichannel experiences between these channels, goes a long way toward building advocacy.
Speak Your Customers’ Language Through Messaging and Social
Contact center agents are on the front line of your customer experience, and it is crucial that they are trained and equipped to deliver digital customer service in a way that is consistent with your brand and creates positive emotional connections with your customers. Just because digital channels don’t include the tone and inflection of a voice call doesn’t mean you lose personality and emotion in the conversation. If done right, digital can create an even stronger bond with your customers.
SMS text, Twitter, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are popular options to meet customers where they already are and reduce customer effort and friction to reach you. If customers have a straightforward question or need to check the status of an open inquiry, it’s a quick and easy way to source that information.
Be careful not to fall into a “lowest common denominator” trap of bland text-only responses in these channels. Instead, take advantage of their native capabilities to make an emotional connection. Is your customer planning a wedding? Send them a fireworks GIF. Are they telling you that they’re so happy that they’re going to promote you on social media? “Like” or “Love” their response. Provide your agents with the training and tools for a truly native digital experience.
Make the Best Use of Customer Time
Digital-first customer service doesn’t mean “digital only,” or that the first channel the customer uses will be the most effective at solving his or her issue. According to the NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark, 9 in 10 consumers today expect a seamless experience across digital messaging and voice channels—and expect the contact center to help guide them on the best channel options. For example, most information requests don’t necessarily require a live agent or synchronous real-time agent conversation, and having a customer wait in a queue for their answer isn’t the best use of anyone’s time.
However, complex troubleshooting typically can’t be easily resolved via SMS text or Twitter so you need to elevate the conversation to a more synchronous, real-time channel like chat or a phone call. Just be sure to have a smooth hand-off that doesn’t require the customer to wait in a long queue or have to repeat themselves when switching channels.
Harness the Power of Digital to Activate Advocates
One exceptional experience doesn’t create a brand advocate—neither do two or three. Creating brand advocates requires consistency, ensuring that every single touchpoint throughout the entire customer journey exceeds expectations. And don’t forget to make it easy for happy customers to socially share their great experiences with your brand and promote you online. With the right digital-first customer service strategy, you’ll soon find those “Likes” and fireworks GIFs shared online are for you.
Chris Bauserman is Vice President of Segment and Product Marketing at NICE inContact. Chris has successfully driven technology strategy and go-to-market (GTM) growth initiatives for software startups and large enterprises over the past 20 years, focusing on solutions that help organizations improve customer experience.
– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline, http://www.contactcenterpipeline.com