Customer service might seem like a basic thing. You make your customers happy with your product, you build a relationship with them, and they become loyal to you and a repeat customer. But, as competition increases and the digital world brings its own challenges, customer expectations are high. They’re looking for just the right content at just the right time, delivered on the right device.
To keep up with those expectations from an always-connected customer, you have to embrace the technology that’s available to you and use it to its full advantage. If you don’t work towards realising that complete digital transformation, you could fall behind. Read on to learn more about the evolution of customer service, how digital transformation has impacted it, and what’s next.
What is customer service and how has it changed?
Customer service is all about the advice and guidance you provide to satisfy your customers. This often happens after they’ve made a purchase, and it might include things like troubleshooting, questions about your product, or returns. Through this exchange, you’ll boost your customer success, which is how much value your customers get from your product or service. You’ll also improve the overall customer experience your organisation provides.
Customer experience captures the entire journey a customer goes through when they interact with your brand. This typically starts when they first learn about you, then purchase something from you, then use it and review it. Measuring customer experience includes considering how they feel about your brand during their entire journey. As we said above, since the market is so competitive, customer service is often a good opportunity for differentiation.
More than ever before, customers want to see that differentiation. Mobile devices, apps on those devices, machine learning, automation and personalisation are all essential things to consider as you’re building a customer service plan. Over the past decade, we’ve transitioned into the “age of the customer” where tech has put the customer in control.
The impact of digital transformation on customer service
Arguably the biggest impact on customer service, and what’s lead to the “age of the customer” we mentioned above has been the advent of digital technology. It’s created a world where a customer can always access a brand, and created an expectation that a customer should always have that access. Especially through the pandemic, digital interactions with a brand might be the only ones your customers are having. It’s a digital-first world, and that means several things.
For B2B sales, social selling has replaced cold calls. As customers are often already engaged with a brand on social media, you can use that as a communication channel. You can build a relationship with them on social media, educate them about your brand, and share relevant content.
For marketing teams, spending on offline marketing activity is less of a priority. Customers prefer targeted messages built via a data-driven marketing strategy and delivered when and where is most convenient for them.
Lastly, for customer service teams, phones and fax machines have been replaced by social media, customer review sites and forums. This is where your customer community is interacting and growing. For customer service, it’s about being proactive with your communications, not reactive.
Innovations in customer service
Customer service has changed massively in such a short period of time. Even the past few years, with the pandemic forcing brands to digitally transform and the rapid advances in tech, things have shifted dramatically. Through 2021, these are some of the innovations we’ve seen in customer service.
Having an omni channel approach means delivering a seamless experience for your customers across a variety of channels. It also includes a consideration for the kinds of devices being used, different behaviours, and changing preferences. As we’ve said, customers demand this type of availability and omnipresence. When you’re able to offer those things, your customers will get that unified experience and feel that they always have access to your brand.
Customers want to feel seen by the brands they choose to interact with and spend their money on. To achieve this, customer data needs to be a top priority, and it needs to inform all communications. This data can help you find them where they are, meet their needs with tailored recommendations, and anticipate their future needs. If a customer feels that your brand knows and understands them in this way, they’ll value your products and services more.
As people become more digitally-savvy, they’re often willing and able to use smart services like virtual assistants and chatbots. It can be a faster way to get answers to simple questions, and can minimise the amount of effort required from your customer service team. Making sure you have a fully-functional and accessible self-service option on your channels is a must.
Tools and tech
Back to team efficiency, when your customer service associates are working efficiently, they’re able to better serve your customers. If you can provide them with the right programmes and tech to help them achieve that, you’ll have more satisfied customers. Find where their challenges lie, and look for the kinds of tools you can give them to overcome those challenges.
The future of customer experience
As we consider the rate of change in customer service and experience, it’s tough to predict what the future could hold. But, it does seem reasonable to assume that advances in technology will continue inform the customer journey.
With the likelihood that technology will keep giving us insight into people’s lives, habits and feelings, we’ll have more data than ever to consider. Even just through the next year, we know customers will continue to want a seamless and personalised experience. The brands that can offer that kind of experience, and continue to digitally transform, will be the ones that thrive.
At Avado, we believe that true transformation isn’t digital, it’s human. We build professional future skills to help diverse talent access and accelerate careers through award-winning learning experiences that deliver tangible and measurable impact. We upskill people, uplift culture and future-proof organisations in a fast-moving world.
Avado is proud to be a people-transformation partner to some of the largest and most innovative organisations in the UK including: Google, BT, NHS, British Airways, UK Civil Service, Legal & General and AstraZeneca.
To find out more, visit www.avadolearning.com