We know that people are more connected to each other than ever before. That’s pretty much the story of the digital age: we can reach anyone, at any time, from anywhere.
But we are not just more connected to our friends and family — we’re also more connected with companies. And that means our expectations from a consumer-company relationship are different than it was before the digital age.
“Consumers increasingly view brands and companies as if they are human – they judge them by their purpose, personalities, ethics, and behaviors – as much, if not more than minimal expectations for product quality,” CEO and author Peter Fisk wrote in 2017.
What is digital customer service, and why does it matter?
Digital customer service is the act of providing customer service through digital channels such as email, chat, text messages, website, and social media. This includes video chat, on-screen collaboration, self-service portals, knowledge base articles, and FAQs.
Customer service is now increasingly being requested on online channels, and customers are relying on live chat to seek solutions to their queries. This is also because live chat support means in-app/ website support rather than picking up the phone or being redirected to the email platform.
Digital technology has changed consumer behavior, and this has caused a resulting switch in how businesses plan their customer service strategy. A study by MIT has found that digitally mature companies are 26% more profitable than their competitors. Deep dive into the article to know why digital transformation should be your next step.
Benefits of digital customer service
Helps provide proactive support: Digital customer service is the best suited to offer proactive support. With the right chat triggers, you can proactively reach out to your customers to initiate a conversation without interrupting them from their daily workflow.
Enables omnichannel support: Digital support lets you access all your customer interactions and incoming support requests from a single window. This saves you from having to switch between different platforms to address customer queries.
Provides 24/7 support with bots: Enabling chatbots for customer support offers round-the-clock assistance to your customers. Thus saving you from losing out on potential customers.
Improves customer loyalty: Digital support opens up opportunities for personalized support and establishes long-term relationships with the customers. Delivering tailor-made support to customers increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Provides conversation history: No one likes repeating the same issues over and over again. With digital customer support, you can have access to previous interactions with the customers. This lets you resolve customer issues without losing context.
Convenient to customers: Digital support is available on the app/website customers are surfing through. This lets the customers reach out to support right where they are, without having to dial-up numbers to get their issues resolved.
Additional benefits of digital customer service
Digital customer service is not limited to just resolving customer queries but extends beyond that. Right from maintaining brand reputation, digital customer service plays a huge role in making and breaking brand identity. Here is how.
Customer support as CX
Customer experience was easy when things were brick and mortar. Someone would walk into a store, be greeted by salespeople, and take in the experience of shopping with a brand physically. Even if you were selling something intangible, like in a travel agency, customers could still meet you in your office and talk to you face-to-face.
The digital age of customer experience means thinking beyond all of that and stepping up from traditional channels to cater to customers’ needs. Brands need to understand that they have to provide a great customer experience every time they see or interact with a brand.
This intensive — and necessary — definition of brand experience means that support is a big part of shaping CX. Here are some ways to evaluate how your support enables a good customer experience:
How you integrate customer support into a customer journey is critical. Where on a purchase journey does a customer see an option for support? Do you have extensive help documentation or a video library? How quickly can a customer find your phone number?
Which methods do you put forward to deliver a great customer experience? Older people, for example, may prefer talking on a phone call, but millennials and Gen Z may prefer a live chat experience. Who is your target audience, and what will work best for them?
How you brand your customer support, e.g., internal chat guidelines, canned responses, graphics, policies on emoji usage, phone scripts, are all part of customer experience now, especially because things like live chat are directly embedded into the customer’s shopping experience.
Customer support as branding
As brands become more and more integrated into our personal networks, consumers have become more interested in seeing them take on the same values. Economic crises and corporate missteps have left people with a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to corporations, the Financial Times reported in 2015. People increasingly don’t want to feel like a slimy corporate scheme is targeting them.
Major players like Costco and Zappos have succeeded because of their relentless push to make customer service the cornerstone of their brand, according to Forbes. It is the first thing in Zappos’ mission statement:
Good customer support and an emphasis on your brand on customer support show customers the values they want to see. This builds trust, goodwill, and brand advocacy.
Customer support as PR
Say there are two companies you are looking at for booking a flight or a new pair of shoes. Before you purchase, you go to check:
Company policies and web support
A purchase decision is now made within a network. The consumer will look at brand presence, consumer sentiment, and comparison-shop, especially for e-commerce.
And when that customer finds a flood of complaints, people @-mentioning brands with complaints, hard-to-navigate help pages, or worrying FAQs, they’re not going to purchase.
A quick poke into United Airline’s “tweets and responses” pulled up several complaints, including this specific exchange about their mobile app:
If I weren’t worried about United’s mobile app, I am now. And their response is worrying as well — the customer support that happens on social media is vitally important, as it is one of the most potent ways that shoppers see brands behaving.
When customers reach out to companies to complain about social media, it’s rarely their first stop on the journey. Most consumers aren’t there to blindly lash out — they’ve tried to get a problem solved and have made no headway or feel that the immediate nature of social media is most likely to get them a fast response.
Offering quick support channels, like live chat for support, can keep complaints off of social because they mimic what users want out of social (fast responses, easy on mobile, text vs. call). Then when customers need help, they don’t have to @-mention a brand on social to try and get the help they need. On the other hand, a good review on social media channels will drive new customers to your business. A golden rule of social media is to respond to customer comments, be it good or bad. It shows that you care for your customers and saves you from losing out on customers.
How to deliver the best digital support experience to your customers
Digital customer service might sound like an easy task for all businesses to implement. But what matters is creating a digital customer service strategy that makes you stand out from your competitors and establishes a connection between your customers and your brand. We have got you a few tips to help you ace customer service in the digital era.
1. Unify support channels
Digital customer service refers to being available on different digital customer service channels where your customers can easily reach you. But this also means you should provide a consistent customer service experience across various digital touchpoints. With digital support, customers expect an immediate response to their queries. Live chat is the best support option to provide quick and real-time solutions to customer queries. Empowering your chat software with the right chatbot can resolve queries quickly while maintaining consistency across conversations.
Good live chat software like Freshdesk Messaging lets you view all your customer conversations coming through different messaging channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, from a single window. This saves your agents from having to switch between different windows to answer customer queries. This also means that the agents have a context of customer conversations. Unifying your customer conversations will help you provide consistent customer support and a better digital support experience.
2. Create a personalized experience for your customers
No customers like to be treated like just another one. They expect a personalized experience from the brands they interact with. A study also shows that 80% of the shoppers only shop with brands that personalize their interactions. Personalization helps in delivering the right messages at the right time to your customers. This will increase your chances of making a sale and also boost customer engagement and retention. With Freshdesk Messaging, you can get a complete history of how your visitors navigate through your website. Also by integrating your chat software with a CRM or marketing automation software will provide you added context of all customer information even before starting a conversation.
3. Keep track of your metrics
Determining the Service-Level Agreement (SLA) and measuring your performance against the set metrics is the best way to know that you are on the right track. With digital support and the pandemic, the number of incoming queries has tremendously increased irrespective of the industries. Let your customers know the wait time if the queue is too long and notify them if the issue takes longer to get sorted out. Evaluate your performance every week or month against customer service metrics like first response time, average resolution time, etc., to get a clear picture of your performance and improve along the way. Deploying a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence would help you bring down your first response time and resolution time by instantly solving common customer queries. Furthermore, the capabilities of Freshdesk Messaging do not end with real-time customer interactions. You can get detailed, visually summarized reports on your team performance, track productivity metrics, and download them for later use.
The future of customer service is digital
As our connectivity grows and brands behave more and more “human” online, customer experience will continue to be digitally-driven. It is all about creating a better digital customer experience and making support easier for customers. No matter what your industry is, the world is going digital, and it is never too late for a digital transformation.