There’s a great quote from Wells Fargo CMO Jamie Moldafsky… ‘I’d say the biggest single thing that is hard for any organization now is just the speed of change and the ability and willingness to engage with your customers. It’s not about selling, it’s not about teaching. It’s simply engaging with them. And it’s helping provide the information and the tools that those individuals need when they need them.’
This one comment captures both the essence of the changing needs and expectations of the digital customer and key challenges brands face to deliver against those.
Here we take a look at some of the key drivers in the shift from customer service to customer engagement.
Customer experience is key
Many companies and industries are faced with fierce competition and a diminishing number of levers to use for differentiation. In a global environment with huge information transparency, people, products, pricing and processes are often very similar across competing companies.
As a result, Customer Experience is taking on a greater importance than ever before for companies looking to successfully attract and retain customers. According to Gartner, 89% of companies plan to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016.
Consultants Frost & Sullivan explain ‘as customer experience becomes a major growth driver, companies can truly depend on it to drive customer loyalty and surpass competition. Consumers prefer to do business with a customer-centric company, eventually becoming brand ambassadors. However, customers also maintain a readiness to switch companies as a result of poor customer experience, thus showcasing the impact of rising customer satisfaction and its significance on bottom-line improvement and top-line growth’.
Consumers in control… and they know it
Today’s ‘digital consumers’ enjoy an unprecedented level of control in their interactions with brands. They have instant access via mobile, tablet and other devices to comparative product & pricing information, peer reviews, ratings etc. Consumers are also setting their expectations based on using services from companies like Uber, Amazon and AirBNB. So if they don’t receive the service they are looking for, they are quick to abandon the company in favour of a competitor who can provide a better experience. According to Forrester, more than 50% of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions, and 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
Consumers also increasingly understand how they can flex their power through social media, voicing opinions that can damage brand loyalty and credibility with other consumers. Forrester asked consumers, “If you were dissatisfied with your experience with the brand that you feel connected with, which of the following would you do?”
- 39% Tell friends and families about the negative experience
- 12% Write negative reviews about the brand on an online consumer review site (e.g. Yelp)
- 11% Post negative comments about the brand on my Facebook page
- 10% Post negative comments about the brand in an online customer community
- 10% Post negative comments on the store/company/ manufacturer’s Facebook page
- 7% Post negative comments on a blog — sponsored by the store/company/manufacturer
- 6% Post negative comments on a blog — not sponsored by the store/company/manufacturer
- 6% Post negative comments about the brand on my Twitter page
- 6% Post negative comments on the store/company/manufacturer’s Twitter page
Consumers also understand that using social media to seek customer support can not only get a quicker response, because fewer people try that channel, but also get more urgent attention of the brand who might fear them venting frustration to a wider audience if their requirements aren’t resolved.
Consumers perspective on the Ideal Customer Experience
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently undertook a survey with 499 chief marketing officers (CMOs) and senior marketing executives which found that 86% of marketers say they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020 (ie. they’ll be responsible for the entire customer journey).
This represents a very clear indicator that companies see customer experience as a key driver for customer acquisition, retention and re-activation moving forward. But what is the consumer’s perspective on the ideal customer experience.
In a separate survey, the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 2,400 consumers globally on what they considered to be the key areas leading to a positive customer experience, the findings were:
- 47% Fast response to enquiries or complaints
- 46% Simple purchasing process
- 34% Ability to track orders in real time
- 25% Clarity and simplicity of product information across channels
- 22% Ability to interact with the company over multiple channels
These findings highlight the importance of agility and creating a joined up experience across channels.
Move to Self Service
A survey from the International Customer Management Institute (ICM), indicated 73 percent of Customer Service Managers said the complexity of tech support calls is increasing as customers have become more technologically sophisticated and can resolve simpler issues on their own.
The move to self service may in part be a result of frustration with call centres. According to the ICM, many organizations are running a cost-per-contact model, which limits the time call centre agents can be on the phone with a caller, resulting in being transferred, put on hold or generally frustrated in the quest for answers.
Mobile network operator Giffgaff is an example of a brand which has avoided a large investment in providing customer support through large call centres, and instead provides its customer service entirely through its social community. The outcome has been an average response time of only 90 seconds and an 84% customer satisfaction rate.
A key change in customer behaviour is the speed and ease with which they move across different channels. Consumers are increasingly channel agnostic and expect a consistent experience from brands. However brands are racing to catch up. According to a recent survey, 61% of customers have not been able to easily switch from one channel to another when interacting with customer service. This is what we call the ‘inside out syndrome’ whereby companies have for years focused on their ability to deliver services and support as the priority, rather than making the customer experience the key focus. As a result, there are people, process and systems silos that make it extremely difficult for some companies to deliver a consistent customer experience across channels.
However good a product might be, there’s no getting away from the fact that some customers will need help and advice, which can be expensive (especially through traditional channels of call centres or responding to emails). Providing self-service and self help capabilities that shift traffic from call centres is therefore an attractive way to reduce costs and improve profitability.
Effective customer engagement isn’t easy
We’ve touched on some of the key drivers changing the nature of customer service. Others, such as the ability to personalize effectively require more detailed examination. But we can conclude that customer engagement isn’t easy and creating outstanding customer experiences requires both close attention to the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of customers, and a reshaping of internal capabilities to effectively deliver those experiences at scale.
At Knexus, we know how important it is for companies to take part in this rapid market shift. That’s why the Knexus platform allows you to distribute content and grow engagement ROI across every channel through one interface. The market is shifting and so should you. I’d be happy to talk you through how this could be helpful for you and your business to reach the top of your game, so please send us a message!