Customers have control. That simple statement has huge implications for organizations today. Customers have more choices than ever in virtually every product and service category, have access to a wealth of product information and reviews online and through social networks, and expect to interact with your company whenever and however is convenient for them. In short, customers have control because they are at the center and are driving the interactions they have with the enterprise.
This new era of customer control leaves organizations needing to provide stellar customer service in order to compete in the market and to gain and keep customers. Customer service is one area where a company can distinguish itself and separate from competitors. Superior customer service results in a stellar customer experience and breeds customer loyalty; whereas poor customer service leads to dissatisfaction, complaints (that can go viral), and lost customers.
While delivering superior customer service in a multi-channel world can be a daunting challenge, vendors that offer customer service capabilities in their cloud-based offerings have been adding features and functions to help organizations meet the demands of providing superior customer service.
But customer service doesn’t always come cheap; nor does it come easy. Organizations must find a balance between providing excellent customer service while controlling costs. Two of the most important functions that can increase return on investment are:
- The ability to provide a customer service agent with an integrated toolset that delivers a complete view of the customer, including their history and transactional data over all channels of contact—rather than requiring agents to access multiple systems to gain an understanding of the customer.
- The ability to provide cross-channel customer service in the way that customers want it: whether by phone, email, chat, Twitter, knowledge forums, FAQs, and more. In addition, customers expect a service experience that can cross touchpoints; for example, initially engaging customer service through one channel (email, chat) and continuing or resolving it through another (portal, knowledge base, etc.).
What should also be noted in the customer service world is a shattering of what once was considered a solid tenet: that customers prefer to talk directly with a person. This may still be the case when customers are lost in an endless loop of an organization’s interactive voice response phone system and wish that someone, anyone, will answer, but otherwise many customers today prefer self-service online solutions. They’d rather quickly find their answer online through FAQs or forums. Or have a real-time online chat or asynchronous email correspondence.
For an organization to successfully deliver on this type of customer service, they must be able to listen across traditional and online social channels to what customers are saying. This allows them to better understand important issues, and to respond by compiling a valuable knowledge base or FAQ that is relevant to customer issues. In cases of live chat, companies must be able to deliver all relevant information to the agent through integrated systems.
Superior customer service is at the heart of customer retention, and today’s advanced cloud-based solutions allow organizations to deliver the right level of service to customers—when and how they want it.