For many businesses competing on customer experience, balancing a diverse product profile and increasingly global consumer base brings new and more complex service challenges. Twenty years ago, consumer interaction with brands was relatively low and straightforward, with experiences taking place in store or over the phone. But today, the increasing number of consumer touchpoints, and instant, always-on connectivity, challenges brands to consistently give their customers everything they expect, across every channel.
For CPG customers, a good experience online can translate to purchase decisions. A recent study revealed that almost a quarter of in-store shoppers said their online activity was one of the most influential factors driving them to an in-store purchase.
CPG brands understand that mobile connectivity needs to factor into their customer experience model to help build loyalty, but actually implementing this model is a challenge. In fact, in a recent study 60 percent of CPG sales executives said it is too difficult to deliver relevant and personalized content to engage customers effectively through digital channels.
That is why it is essential for companies today to find solutions that seamlessly and cohesively provide stellar customer service across any channel and help inquiring customers move their engagement across channels without losing the information exchanged in their last interaction. And they need to ensure agents are factored in so they can quickly and efficiently respond to customer requests.
To successfully implement this unified engagement, omni-channel, always-on, easy-to-do-business-with customer service approach, brands and businesses must put experience at the core. What does this mean?
- Understand the consumer journey: Understand where your customer is trying to reach you, and what they’re trying to achieve. Each customer will interact differently, so make sure you’re providing them with the right resources in the right place, so they can easily find the information they need.
- Acknowledge that consumer comfort comes first: The majority of consumers want to be in charge of managing the services they use, including their transactions, troubleshooting and resolving a technical issue, buying a product, etc. As a result, they are more than ready to use self-help tools themselves to find an answer.
- Be proactive: As new channels surface, consumers expect that the servicing brand will provide proactive information through all channels of communication. For example, a consumer wants to be constantly updated on the status of a shipment they ordered, without being the one to make the initial contact.
- Understand the power of knowledge: In the process of developing an omni-channel consumer engagement experience, it is very important for businesses trying to deliver services through web self-service to provide agent-based communication channels. Knowledge management, in combination with online self-help tools, can help reduce manual overhead and provide dynamic engagement solutions.
- Be tech savvy: With new channels evolving so rapidly, customer service reps need the ability to interact with multiple back-end systems to optimize the omni-channel environment and businesses keep using the channels and systems in silos.
Basically, providing outstanding customer experience means helping your customer find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible, with the least amount of effort, and in their preferred place or format. Increasingly, this means online. Gartner recently reported that social media and digital self-help channels will be preferred by 2018, with approximately two thirds of all customer interactions taking place there.
Today, consumers own the relationship with a company or brand, meaning companies must adapt their framework to unify and simplify their brand experience.
Mandeep Kwata is vice president of solutions and capabilities at HGS, a firm that focuses on optimizing the customer experience and helping clients to become more competitive. For more information: www.teamhgs.com.