March 21, 2022
The past two-plus years have dramatically impacted the role of customer service through digital transformation and have redefined what an effective customer experience is. Now and in the future, how well brands provide stellar customer experiences will more than likely determine how successful they will be.
Interestingly enough, most people prefer a customer experience that omits traditional customer service altogether: The pandemic and the rise of more self-guided experiences have changed the nature of customer service — and the dynamic between marketing and customers — in many significant ways.
This rapid acceleration in digital user experiences has introduced some interesting challenges. With the need for fast application development during the pandemic, more low-code and no-code platforms provided turnkey platforms but became ubiquitous, meaning unique customer experiences suffered.
Another development has been updated relevancy in suggested content and suggestive selling. Cookies and SEO are providing the digital footprint that marketers rely on, but what’s missing are the questions that need to be answered in order to truly provide relevant and personalized content for the customer. Consider while most customers expect personalized interaction from brands, the majority are frustrated when they don’t experience it.
The art of suggestive selling comes to life when service professionals can have 1:1 conversations with the customer. The assumption is that the service professional knows what the customer is there for and would be interested in something else to enhance their purchase. Within the digital storefront, customers have found a “based on your previous purchase” selection, but the conversation and direct interests of the customer’s current needs may be missing.
As mentioned, customers now prioritize and prefer self-service opportunities. The digital acceleration in everyday life has clearly answered the need to build upon the digital experiences that consumers have been demanding for the past few years.
Improving Customer Experience
Trust is key when it comes to successful relationships between marketers and customers, so naturally, the dynamic becomes much more challenging when fulfillment or the brand promise fails.
Unsatisfactory customer interactions can be one of the culprits that leads to an erosion of that trust. A 2019 Forrester report outlined the need for conversational chatbots developed by CX teams to deliver on a more personalized customer service experience. Chatbots have answered part of that customer service need, but when the online experience cannot answer questions, frustration mounts. And though chatbots have certainly improved over the years, there is still the need for human interaction at times.
Because a segment of the consumer population still relies on a call to resolve an issue, successful brand call centers should field these calls in a timely manner, listen to the consumer, and be able to answer the need successfully. Call wait times for customer service have been up to two hours in some instances, frustrating consumers and accelerating a bad experience with the brand.
Glitchy UI experiences also conspire to break down consumer trust. Hidden navigations and confusing user experience are pretty much dealbreakers in 2022. Once marketers drive customers to a page, we need to be clear and transparent in what we are offering or what we’re requiring. Conversely, if the experience is too clever or minimalist, the same result happens with confusing the user. Must-have elements include color choice, ensuring usability and accessibility standards are enforced, and clear calls to action.
Ultimately, understanding the customer’s profile and delivering a personalized 1:1 experience is essential.
4 Considerations to Rebuild Trust
For marketers and brands who want to build back that solid level of trust with customers and strengthen customer experiences in 2022, here are a handful of areas to focus on:
- Empathy. In a customer service 1:1 interaction, acknowledgement of the customer issue and true empathy is needed to at least get to a more favorable brand experience. If a customer communicates with positive or negative feedback, there should be understanding and acknowledgement that they have been heard. Simply taking the time to be nice, offer an introduction, and show a willingness to invest a minute to listen to the customer and present a solution based on building this relationship ensures a positive brand experience.
- Response. Brands have already built ways to survey customers; taking that input and demonstrating that customers have been heard is a solid strategy in building engaging user experiences. Quick and creative responses are also crucial in building the customer trust that leads to affinity. Personalized email versus automated response is a successful way to build that trust.
- Clarity in communication.Proactivity in responding to issues before they actually become complaints, as well as communicating honestly and presenting solution-oriented ideas, are fantastic ways to show trustworthiness.
- Personalization.A recent project for one of our clients (grounded in research that elevated customer priorities) resulted in an 82% higher click-through rate for targeted ads that had a level of personalization versus those that did not. Meeting customers where they are, acknowledging what is important to them, and delivering on that with positive interactions should be the baseline.