Making the Transition into Digital Customer Service

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online customer service
Photo Credit: Adam Solomon

Business is now won and lost online.

Strong customer service is the backbone of any company and plays a critical role in building long-lasting relationships with customers to keep them coming back. As online behaviours continue to evolve, so too do the channels they use to find the answers to their questions. So it’s no surprise that we’re now witnessing the rise of Digital Customer Service.

Digital Customer Service isn’t a new concept. But it has increased in importance over the last decade, as customers get more comfortable with shopping online and interacting with automated service channels. Most businesses are completely aware that they need to shift a portion of their traditional customer service model online, and most have. Still, there are many that are not looking at their customer service strategy as holistically as they should, and their customer satisfaction results often reflect that.

Customers now demand that their interactions with a company be seamless and take place where they want, when they want, and on the device they want. The expectation is that you be where they are and ready to answer their questions. And quickly.

Not only is shifting your customer service strategy online more efficient, it also generates higher satisfaction among customers. A recent study found that moving customer service online increased satisfaction by 33% and cut costs by up to 35%. In short, the more digital the journey, the higher the satisfaction. In fact, Gartner estimates that live channels like chat, email and phone cost an average of $8 per contact while digital channels cost far less at $0.10 per contact.

Still not sold? A customer is 4x more likely to buy from your competition if they come across a problem that’s service-related vs. price or product. No business wants that kind of issue.

So, what does Digital Customer Service look like?

Live Chat Support

Live Chat allows customers to communicate with a company or brand in real-time. Instead of speaking with a rep via the phone or by email, customers can visit a website and initiate a conversation directly within the browser from their desktop or mobile phone. This channel of communication has a number of benefits.

  • When customers use live chat, they can multi-task, because the wait time is often next to nothing, customers can address their pain point and get on with their day
  • There are plenty of times when customers have questions about a product or service, but the thought of calling and being placed on hold doesn’t seem worth it. Live chat allows companies to eliminate any potential roadblocks – no matter how negligible the question or concern
  • Because Live Chat is all done in real-time, customers can have their questions or concerns addressed quickly and in real-time. No long wait times and none of the back-and-forth from things like online forms or email

Social Media Support

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have quickly become commonplace for customers to ask their questions – whether you’re there to answer or not. Typically customer service via social is managed through direct message or publicly on a company’s profile. It’s critical for teams to ensure they have proper escalation processes in place and the right people fielding questions to handle the complaints coming through. Because most of the conversation often takes place out in the open, it’s essential to be as prepared as possible to respond. When done properly, this channel can add a ton of value.

  • Although tackling questions and concerns in a public forum can seem daunting for a lot of companies, it can be a massive public relations win and can help reinforce to others just how seriously your business takes questions and concerns
  • Social media can also create great word of mouth. Whether it starts negatively or positively, each interaction is an opportunity to start a relationship with a customer. Studies show that customers take pride in interacting with brands and will often tell their friends

Video-Assisted Support

Still new to the game, video-assisted customer support allows reps to use video (directly from a customer’s mobile phone camera) to offer real-time live support. Although not yet widely used, video support provides a number of benefits.

  • It decreases the time it takes to resolve an issue (sometimes it’s much faster to just explain something vs. typing it)
  • It increases customer satisfaction because the rep has the opportunity to build a relationship with the customer via face-to-face and make the call more of an “experience”
  • It helps reach customers in remote areas vs. having to send support directly to the home

Still, a new channel for customer service, the ownness is on businesses to re-assure customers that it’s a safe and secure way to communicate.

Self-Service Support

While most customer service models involve a representative interacting with a customer, the self-serve model is an integral part of the toolkit.

A recent survey found that 67% of consumers prefer self-service to speak to a company representative.

Companies can develop a number of different resources that help act as the first line of defence for customer service reps. Some of the most common resources include Frequently Asked Questions, Chat Bots (that can address common pre-populated answers to questions) and knowledge bases. So, what makes self-serve such a great option?

  • It can eliminate the need for your customer to interact with a representative and solve the problem all on their own
  • Not only can knowledge bases address immediate concerns, they can also provide customers additional product or service information they wouldn’t have otherwise known about

Online Community Support

Online communities or forums are online groups that are managed by customers themselves. Although these groups are self-sufficient, it’s important to always be on the lookout for groups that are devoted entirely to your company or brand and ensure that the information being shared is accurate. Because these groups require virtually no staff or overhead to manage, they can be a great way to help address customer questions or concerns. A solid online community can help a company from a number of different angles.

  • Groups can provide a glimpse into a customer’s unfiltered preferences and needs
  • They can help foster a sense of loyalty and create brand advocates
  • Create an open dialogue between a business and its customers

What are the benefits of Digital vs. Traditional?

There are several reasons why making the transition to digital can help your Customer Service Department.

  • It reduces the effort customers have to make to resolve their issue promptly and effectively
  • It helps businesses connect with customers no matter where they are
  • It gives companies access to more Customer Service data which can help inform future decisions
  • It creates efficiencies including interactions, first-contact resolutions as well as productivity
  • It boosts website content and search engine optimization efforts

Ready to take the leap from traditional to digital customer service? We can help with that.

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Ball of computer cables
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