In 2017, we saw some of today's biggest companies face major customer support challenges, most of which could have been avoided had they implemented the right technologies and processes. Not only does poor customer service lose organizations a massive amount of money (nearly $62 billion per year), it damages reputations, hurts customer retention, and affects the bottom line.
Now that 2018 is upon us, here is some advice for companies looking to take a fresh approach.
Shift your perspective of customer support by thinking of it as a revenue driver, not a cost center.
While customer support is often written off as a less important business operation, organizations need to think of customer support as an integral part of the brand experience. It can have a significant impact on the company's bottom line. From a brand loyalty perspective, more than half of consumers say they will stop purchasing from businesses after just one poor customer service interaction. Moreover, consumers are far more likely to share bad experiences on social media, and 88 percent say they have been influenced by online reviews when making purchases.
When you take all of this data into consideration, it's easy to see the value of customer support in driving purchases from both new and existing customers. Additionally, businesses looking to take brand loyalty one step further can begin exploring how customer support can bleed into other parts of their businesses, whether it be product, marketing, or sales.
Appeal to customer needs by making support experiences fast, mobile, and always on.
If you look at how consumers use technology today, almost all of their communications can be initiated using smartphones. For example, you don't call a cab using a landline, you simply request a ride using one of the various rideshare apps. The same goes for ordering food, listening to music, or making retail purchases. Despite all of these experiences, businesses are stuck in the 1980s when it comes to customer support, with archaic interactions and an inability to exchange media instantly, while on the call or chat.
Today's customers want support that is fast, mobile, and always on. In fact, the majority of consumers say that a quick resolution is the most important factor when deciding whether their customer support experiences were positive or negative. To keep up with these demands, businesses need to connect with customers where they are looking to connect; businesses need to offer multiple channels for communication. This benefits both the customer and the support agent, offering rapid resolution through a seamless transition between voice, chat, and sharing of media (think images and videos). This allows customers to handle the entire support experience on their smartphones, providing that instant gratification via an efficient and effortless experience they want.
Leverage technology where it matters most.
Everyone knows the pain associated with the common support experience. Whether it's dealing with a telecom, the DMV, or an airline gate agent, the parodies are endless, and the frustrations are real. Many of those frustrations can be eased or solved with the smart adoption of technology. It might not be as dramatic as the white knight riding up to save the day, but it can certainly feel magical when problems get solved rapidly without the agent and/or the customer getting worked up.
We are still in the early stages of artificial intelligence and chatbots having a significant impact on the support experience, but there are technologies that exist today that can eliminate some of the most common frustrations. For example, there is no reason why in today's world customers should have to re-verify themselves or repeat pertinent information multiple times. Technology can allow information to flow more freely, agents to be more efficient, and customers to get their problems resolved faster.
We also shouldn't shy away from the role the human agent can play in a great support experience. Technology can be tremendously helpful, but when coupled with human empathy and emotional intelligence, this balanced approach leads to higher Net Promoter Scores scores and stronger brand loyalty.
Solving problems is never easy, but with the smart adoption of technology, they can be resolved faster, and delightful experiences help build stronger brand loyalty and create customers for life.
This article originally appeared in Smart Customer Service.