By Rob Nash, Founder & Managing Director, 4 Roads
Why customer satisfaction counts
There can be no doubt that the goalposts have shifted when it comes to what keeps customers happy, with aWalker study at the end of 2020 finding that customer experience (CX) is set to overtake product and price in its importance to consumer decision making.
So what makes good customer service? The key word is “empowerment”. Today’s “Google culture” means customers have become accustomed to reaching information by themselves and quickly. By utilising technologies which enable the customer to find solutions at relative speed along their customer journey – something we call Intelligent Self-Service (ISS) – you begin to satisfy the demands of the modern-day customer and enhance your brand perception.
Joining up the dots
Businesses need to have an awareness of the journeys being taken by customers when negotiating their self-service systems and, crucially, how this journey can be improved and made easier at each touchpoint.
Types of self-service tools include virtual communities, knowledge bases and chat bots. With digital transformation being a key focus for brands since the new millennium, most businesses today are likely to be already utilising one or more of these tools.
But digital transformation is a never ending cycle, and ISS should be at the heart of the current cycle for brands by linking these tools and pulling them together into one cohesive and efficient system. A system which unifies tactical data from separate self-service tools to come up with quick, individual responses to each unique customer query.
Think about it. If a brand’s self-service chatbot responds to a customer without any data from the self-service journey already taken, it’s likely to repeat questions the customer has come across before on, say, a virtual community.
That’s why isolated self-service tools don’t equate to good CX, with an ISS approach being necessary to weed out such inefficiencies to avoid frustrated and unsatisfied customers.
What this looks like in the real world
There are a number of real world examples of brands getting it right. I’m a fan of Currys PC World’s video support system introduced earlier this year, known as ‘ShopLive’. Through a video chat link, it connects you directly to an in-store technical expert that has access to both relevant internal databases to your query and your personal site navigation history.
By having these different service tools under one umbrella system, the brand employee can identify and provide personal solutions to you efficiently.
I’m less of a fan of Hermes’ CX offering, meanwhile. The ‘track my parcel’ bot, which most of us will be familiar with in the age of e-commerce, provides very simplistic (and often inaccurate) parcel tracking info that doesn’t elevate to any additional self-service systems.
Hermes seemingly doesn’t realise that a bot function can’t have all the answers. In contrast, Currys PC World’s approach shows ISS doesn’t necessarily mean turning our back on human interaction within brand CX. After all, sometimes it’s a human who’s best placed to help out another human – it’s in our nature – but tech can still facilitate this within an ISS system.
A balancing act
Customers seeking automated self-service support versus human support will often depend on context.
Banking brands will understand this as their customers need to share sensitive data when interacting with their banking self-service apps. In the privacy of home, the idea of a video chat service direct to an employee probably sounds most convenient.
Whilst managing your finances in public, however, say on your commute home from work, I think we can all agree speaking aloud personal financial information is far less appealing.
The value of choice
What I’m trying to show is how important choice is within a brand’s CX service, which links back to empowerment. An integrated, efficient, ISS system that maps out the customer journey, connects self-service tools and provides choice will result in an empowered and ultimately more satisfied customer.