Today's customers are more informed and connected than ever before — the balance of power has shifted. When it comes to relationships between customers and businesses, the customer is in control and the number of channels that customers use to engage with businesses is increasing. Providing top-notch customer service is more important than ever. According to Microsoft's annual U.S. State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 98% of U.S. consumers say customer service is very important or somewhat important in their choice of or loyalty to a brand, and 68% say they have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience. It is critical for businesses to continue down a path of service innovation in order to improve customer experience and ultimately stay competitive. Today's blog will highlight 5 areas that will help keep you moving in the right direction.
1. Consumer Preference Center/Segmentation
It's important to have a defined customer segmentation strategy. Customer segments can have particular communication preferences and a range of expectations for customer service. For example, for millennial consumers, the ability to access self-service, live chat, SMS/text, and social channels are key to their service satisfaction. As a segment that contribute about $600 billion in spending each year, catering to their consumer preference is critical. Don't assume that every consumer wants the same attention or communications – innovate in this area by working on your segmentation strategy to ensure you're meeting preferences.
The U.S. State of Multichannel Customer Service Report states that 89% of companies with an extremely strong Omni-channel customer engagement say they retain their customers, compared to only 33% for companies with weak Omni-channel engagement. The primary channels we are seeing used within the industry are the most traditional ones: phone, email, and chat. However, for the first time we are seeing alternative channels like self-service and social starting to outpace the growth trajectories of these traditional channels.
If you're not pursuing an omni-channel approach to your service, you could be in trouble.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
According to a study conducted by research firm, Gartner, by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices around the world. This is a huge opportunity for service innovation. When businesses connect the devices they own with IoT, they can monitor issues, send alerts, automate service tickets, and allow for proactive service for connected devices.
4. Predictive Analytics
Make sure your service isn't just reactive, by working on providing proactive experiences. You can predict the needs of your customers by identifying trends, anticipating opportunities, and gaining insight by employing predictive analytics within service centers. For example, if a customer calls into the service center with a specific complaint regarding a product, predictive analytics can recommend solutions and services to resolve the issue, enhance the product, provide upsell/cross-sell opportunities, and automatically dispatch and route a field technician based on historical interactions.
5. Field Service
Field service technicians act as a brand's service ambassadors; they act as the company's public face, and their interactions can determine a customer's loyalty. While in the field, these technicians can also act as front line sellers by upselling and cross-selling services or products, and can help renew service contracts and warranties. Field service is a great opportunity to ensure your customers are satisfied and that your technicians have the right information to provide high performance customer service.
Customers expect much more out of the service they receive, and they will not hesitate to cease patronizing a business due to bad experiences. It's critical for businesses to continue to innovate in their service areas to ensure success. By meeting these service trends head on, businesses will see a marked increase in both customer satisfaction and revenue while reducing OPEX costs. According to studies by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Learn more about how your organization can pursue service innovation in our white paper: Improving the Customer Experience through Service Innovation. You can download the white paper here.