It is estimated that by 2020, 50 billion to 100 billion devices will be connected to the internet and people will be living in a fully connected world. Already, thanks to smart mobile devices and cloud technology, people are able to interact in an uninterrupted and ‘always-on’ environment.
This has changed the way people live and work, as well as the way they consume. Increasingly customer satisfaction will be measured by the ability to do business with anyone, anywhere at any time, underpinned by customer service configured around convenience.
Businesses are now faced with the twin challenges of managing the customer experience in a far more complex environment while developing the most cost-effective strategies for fulfilling customer demand for 'always-on' service. The Aberdeen Group has established via its 2015 survey of Customer Experience Management (CEM) programmes that "balancing buyer needs while enhancing financial results is the top objective driving modern customer experience programmes."
In order for your business to know whether it’s multi-channel strategy is actually delighting your customers and delivering value in terms of growing customer loyalty (and your bottom line), you will need to develop an effective means of measuring customer satisfaction. The first step involves recognising that the always-on, multi-channel environment has changed your customers' customer service priorities.
Improving Customer Responsiveness
As Micah Soloman, Customer Service Expert, has noted, customers don't simply want more means to contact your business, they expect you to be actively monitoring their communications, complaints and compliments across the channels they use in order to respond quickly and thoroughly. What's more, they have an evolving sense of what ‘quickly’ is, which applies not just to response but also to resolution. A survey conducted by Loudhouse indicated that most consumers had very high expectations of having their query swiftly resolved:
- By phone: within 30 minutes (59%)
- By social media: within a day (52%)
- By email: within a day (75%)
With consumers' low patience thresholds, failure to deliver quickly will more likely result in them giving up rather than persevering. According to Forrester Research, over half of online consumers will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions.
Aligned to their Specific Needs and Preferences
As much as customers want a quick answer, they want the process of getting it to be easy.
A 2015 Forrester Research analysis of customer service trends observes that "customers want to feel empowered to get a question answered or an issue resolved at any point during their engagement journey with a company, and expect their service interactions to be painless." This means that your business must be able to deliver the right answer to your customers at the right time in their journey.
Companies employing modern techniques in CEM boast a 16.3% year-on-year improvement in first contact resolution rates. - Aberdeen Group study, 2015
And it's not just a matter of responding to your customers once they flag an issue. Businesses who find ways to proactively empower their customers with tools and resources to make better informed purchase decisions or please them with precisely targeted offers build valuable rapport, which in turn drives increased revenues. For example, Snapfish by HP, an online photo service, monitors its customers' journeys to pre-emptively offer customer service solutions to them at a time when they are most likely to appreciate it, in the form of invitations to chat or co-browse, offers or coupons or a multi-media tutorial. As a result, Snapfish has enjoyed a 10% increase in average order value and a 40% conversion rate for customers it proactively engages.
Many businesses are finding it difficult to meet these evolving customer demands. Respondents to Loudhouse's survey indicated that although most of them (67%) had recently made purchases that had involved multiple channels, only 7% of them were extremely satisfied that "brands provide a seamless, integrated and consistent customer service experience across channels."
Closing this significant gap in customer satisfaction will involve not just offering multi-channel customer communication and support, but also joining the dots between data gleaned from customer contact points. Only be doing this will you gain a clear measure of customer satisfaction to help you transform your service into a source of real rapport and a means of building lasting customer loyalty.
- As the world becomes more interconnected, customers expect to be able to contact businesses at their convenience.
- Those who offer multiple customer touch-points through a variety of channels already outperform those who don’t.
- Customers expect a joined up, consistent customer service experience across all channels.
- Expectations of customer service are centred around responsiveness, customer effort and alignment to personal preferences.
- Successfully delivering on these parameters first requires being able to measure customer satisfaction with data correlated across all touch-points.