The role of customer service in customer experience
Customer experience is the complete journey people go through when they connect with your brand: from discovery through to purchase and post-purchase. Customer service is ‘in the moment’ – a direct response to a question or an issue – but plays a key role in influencing the experience your customers have overall.
When most of us think of customer service, we think of the long-maligned call centre – a place few of us wish to go, but where we are generally forced when something goes wrong.
However, the profile of customer service has seen a significant upturn as businesses recognise the role good customer service plays in strengthening the overall buyer experience.
Basically, companies need to make sure they are ready and waiting the moment a person wants to reach out to the brand – and this applies to the very start of the buyer’s journey as well as post-purchase.
For example, customer service plays a role in:
- Helping a customer choose the right product
- Troubleshooting any issues once the product has been bought, for example providing Help guides or videos on assembly
Advising customers on complementary or alternative products and services
Customer service – not just for e-commerce
Technology is essential in order to drive better customer service in ecommerce firms, but can be used just as effectively in any organisation that regularly needs to answer questions. For example, student queries in the education sector, technology companies offering software as a service, logistics, professional services… the list goes on.
As always, it’s about giving your customers the tools to communicate and interact with your brand in the way they like and want to. A creative approach helps: a traditional law firm or conveyancer might not turn to SMS as their first way to respond to a customer, but a ‘try and test’ approach could reveal a distinct competitive advantage – as well as appealing to the next generation of clients.
What are the challenges of providing customer service at scale?
Managing a shared inbox for customer service enquiries might work for startups, but it’s not an option for companies that are scaling fast. The challenge for businesses is:
- How do we make it easier for customers to reach out to us?
- What channels should we use?
- Who should be involved in answering customer questions?
- How do we keep track of all these interactions so that customers have a consistently good experience?
When mapping your buyer and customer journeys, work out which touchpoints could include customer service elements. When are people most likely to ask questions? How can you respond to these? Help can be delivered in lots of different ways: from a simple FAQ page on your website to a fully fledged help desk.
How technology helps turn customer service into revenue
A dedicated customer service software solution adds to your bottom line by bringing speed and quality to every touchpoint. This in turn convinces prospects to become buyers, and buyers to become loyal customers.
Here are just some examples of the tools you can use:
- Email – the ability to answer every email from individual shoppers in a shared workspace (rather than separate email accounts) means your customer service agents can see every interaction with your company without having to trawl for information. As a result, customers spend less time going over the same problem and get faster responses to their queries.
- Social media and SMS – when putting customers at the centre, it’s all about connecting on the channels they like to use. If they prefer to reach out to you via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or text, then that’s where you need to be. A help desk provider should make it easy for your customer service team to review and respond to conversations across social channels.
- Live chat – to make customer service a true revenue enabler, your responses need to be timely, accurate and above all, personal. A good help desk provider will be able to integrate with your ecommerce platform – whether that’s Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce or any other – and allow your team to pull up all product and purchase information in one place. This means they can answer questions about stock, orders and refunds, and action them without leaving the platform.
- Real chat – today’s technology means that customer service agents can take voice calls equipped with full customer and product history, then move the conversation to SMS or email if required. This agility empowers both the agent and customer to resolve things as quickly as possible.
- Automation tools – a modern help desk solution uses automation to streamline the management of large volumes of inbound enquiries. For example, the technology is able to detect whether a message relates to a cancellation, refund or stock issue, and to tag these accordingly. As a result, agents can tap in and review a caseload of similar enquiries and manage them far more efficiently.
The link between customer service and content
It’s important to include the customer service touchpoints within your content plan, as well-produced content can play a huge role in helping turn disgruntled customers into happy buyers. For example, a customer might reach out to the helpdesk to complain they are unable to assemble a specific product. Thanks to the automation and sentiment tracking capabilities discussed above, you know this is a common product issue. In fact, you have a video showing the buyer exactly how to overcome that tricky piece of assembly!
Measuring the impact of your customer service efforts
- Overall feeling about the brand – Modern helpdesks leverage the social listening tools used within social media platforms and bring them into the customer service conversation. This enables businesses to gauge how well their customers are feeling when they interact with your brand. And, if it needs attention, knowing how to allocate the resources to handle it.
- Reduction in resolution time – This is the main figure businesses use to assess the success of their customer service investments. It follows that a cut to the time waiting for resolution increases satisfaction and overall loyalty.
Recap: so far, we’ve talked about what CX is and why it’s important. We recognise that a great customer experience – that is, the sum of our interactions with a company – has to be reinforced with equally thoughtful customer service. Now, we’re ready to delve into the details of the customer experience itself.
This is split into two distinct parts: the buyer journey and the customer journey. Both parts need to be aligned but are ultimately different, and should not be used interchangeably. Read on to find out why…