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5 Steps to Deliver Stand-Out Customer Care.

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Graham Forsyth from Khoros

by Graham Forsyth from Khoros

20.08.2019

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For the second article in a three-part customer engagement series, we dive into the importance of strong digital customer care.

Editor’s note: We continue our conversation with Guntram Kopp, Managing Director of Germany-based advertising agency EIGHTYDOTS.

What really drives brand loyalty? Some might say that exceptional service is the key to loyalty. But Guntram Kopp from EIGHTYDOTS believes lasting, scalable success comes from something much more important: service that feels effortless.

“It’s not new that people want self-service customer care,” says Kopp, “we’ve seen it over decades, but now the technology is there. And the brand has to enable this by making it a smooth, effortless experience. The cost of not doing so is a fatal increase in disloyalty.”

Buyers want questions answered both publicly and privately on social media. They expect a response instantly, or close to it. For the brand, it can feel like the world is watching and the pressure is on to deliver a quick result. But when customer care is focused on closing the case rather than delivering a more seamless experience, loyalty starts to slip away.

'When customer care is focused on closing the case rather than delivering a more seamless experience, loyalty starts to slip away.'

The strategy to prevent this slow leak isn’t complicated, and the rewards can be exponential. From shortening the sales funnel to long term brand-building, upgrading your customer care from merely efficient to actually effective can be a real game-changer. And putting it into practice means being brave about the investment and work involved to achieve it.

1. Rethink what success looks like

Customers will only remember a service experience when it registers as extremely good or catastrophically poor. Before you start shooting for anything out of the ordinary, you have to first make things easy for your customers in every single interaction.

'Customers will only remember a service experience when it registers as extremely good or catastrophically poor.'

The brands that pick up the most accolades for customer satisfaction already understand this. Kopp points to Amazon as an example of how effortless trumps exceptional: service doesn't come with much of a flourish, but it’s hard to imagine anyone more convenient and reliable to order from.

2. Review the current customer journey

For Kopp, buying a car is a great example of the opportunity available to improve the customer experience — something an EIGHTYDOTS automotive client is actively working on. Car buying is — as a whole — something that happens offline. However, marketing and customer care are likely to take place on digital channels.

Potential customers often begin their car-buying journey on social media, but are then redirected to a website, and then a phone number to set up an initial appointment. Customers are jumping through hoops to complete a simple action — deterring them from wanting to interact with a brand further.

So what if the whole thing could be arranged at that first point of contact without the customer having to lift a finger? That’s the next stage for their client, explains Kopp. “Customers are telling us that this is what they want: to get answers, not just information.”

And don’t forget to consider platform use preferences in your service design. Another of EIGHTYDOTS’ clients, this time in the aviation industry, has already pivoted its customer care strategy to make it completely mobile first.

3. Learn everything you can

We know that underneath the elegant swan drifting down the river, there’s some frantic paddling going on. Almost every customer care process worth putting into place starts out with people doing the job manually, and learning from the responses they get. Social media customer care teams should be set up to capture feedback and report on interactions.

They also need access to partners, such as regional dealers, product development teams, communications departments, or supply chains. In short, they need to be able to do the work that customers are seeking to avoid.

4. Design a new journey

To twist a phrase from a friendly neighbourhood superhero: with great loyalty comes great responsibility. When you deliver seamless service, you should see an increase in both new and repeat customers. For many brands, it’s not sustainable to grow the customer care team at a similar rate. That’s where partial automation comes in.

'With great loyalty comes great responsibility.'

Automation doesn’t replace care teams, it supports them. Chatbots that give fuss-free answers to basic questions make room for customer care staff to spend more time personally handling complex queries. Online booking services that get people directly where they need to go allow brands to focus on giving customers a positive experience when they get there, rather than following up on leads or handling administrative work.

5. Be prepared for change

The biggest challenge you’ll face is bringing internal stakeholders on board, and making any necessary changes to team operations and structures. Ultimately, the cost of not doing so far outweighs any temporary upheaval to get the ball rolling, but there’s bound to be initial resistance. “The education part is more on the brand side than the customer side,” observes Kopp, “in the best case scenario, it would be a whole company shift, driven from the CMO toward the CEO and then the rest of the C-suite. As we mostly work with marketing teams and their CMOs, we support them on that mission to create culture change internally.”

Don’t forget that your first advocates are your own team. If you can focus your company culture on delivering a friction-free experience inside and out for your customers, you’ll build loyalty everywhere it counts.

Stay tuned for the last article in this three-part customer engagement series.

To view another part of this series, click below:

See the original article by Graham Forsyth on the Khoros Blog.

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