Customer service can make or break loyalty, but how has the digital revolution changed the way businesses approach their consumers?
What springs to mind when you think about poor customer service? Is it a slow response? Not solving your problem the first time? Making you feel like a cog in a machine? It’s probably a combination of all of the above. These days, there’s no escape for the organisations that we feel provide bad service – if we’re unhappy, the internet will know about it, with complaints peppered all over social channels for everyone to see.
For me, the brands that get it right are the ones who take the time to get to know me and take into account my behaviours, needs, budget and availability. In order for them to get my business, they need to know what I want – sometimes before I even do – or I might see if their competitors can do a better job. After all, there’s plenty of choice out there. In short, I want a customer experience that’s so good, it doesn’t require any effort on my part.
I’m not the only one feeling like this. We carried out an extensive piece of research which showed that 89% of UK businesses and 72% of consumers expect a company to understand and meet their expectations, with three quarters of respondents (74%) saying that they would be put off from a brand in the event of bad customer service. In fact, it is the number one differentiator for brands.
So, what can companies do to make sure that they’re able to provide this effortless customer experience?
Let me state the obvious, but only because it’s so fundamental: knowing your customer is key to delivering exceptional experiences. Businesses need to have a complete picture of their customers, right down to which devices they use, which channels they frequent and what they need. By capturing, combining and interpreting customer data, service teams can act more efficiently and get higher results.
Centrica Connected Home, for example, has integrated its different data sets and systems into one platform, driving greater efficiency and richer customer engagements. The service team can now see if a homeowner has bought a Hive product but not yet activated their account; they can also proactively contact a customer if they notice a problem with their product set-up, or alert a customer with the Boiler IQ product to a potential breakdown before it occurs.
Bringing AI to the mix
Imagine that you are a manager at an appliance manufacturing firm. You receive an alert that there has been a surge in customer complaints regarding a particular model of oven. Luckily, you can consult a set of analytical tools to find the offending model and purchase records and you proactively get the word out to your customers, preventing issues before they can even start.
This isn’t future tech, either. KONE is a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry and currently uses Salesforce every day to manage opportunities, tenders, and orders for both new equipment sales and service contracts. KONE has also embarked on a project to transform its field service operations. By integrating Service Cloud Lightning and Field Service Lightning with IoT (Internet of Things) capabilities, KONE will be able to provide its 20,000 field service engineers with real-time information on customer installations information and maintenance schedules.
These days we can go a step further. By bringing artificial intelligence to bear on data, customers not only get a unique experience, but a faster, more reactive and useful one too. AI technology can find correlations your teams might have missed and then use this insight to predict customer preferences and create a personalised experience for them. What’s more, it can do this at scale and at speed.
If you’re not already looking into how you can use the power of AI consider this: a report from Accenture found that nearly 80% of IT and business executive think that AI will help businesses improve the service they are able to offer customers.
Embrace the future
AI has the potential to improve the lives of consumers and businesses, but it’s up to companies to embrace the technology and embed it into its processes and systems, so that employees and customers can benefit from it. I will bet my bottom dollar that those who do will be the eventual winners, and once they have that lead, it’ll be hard for the competition to keep up.
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