By Joel Sylvester, Chief Marketing Officer, Five Star Call Centers
The State of the Customer Service Industry
The information I’m about to share with you on the state of the customer service industry isn’t leading-edge. Or even that new. What it is, is a reminder of what is important in helping our industry thrive in the current marketplace.
As our industry grappled with how to respond to a global pandemic, our customers provided us with a lot of grace and understanding. That understanding only reaches so far. The general public is ready to move beyond the pandemic and that means their expectations for customer service have elevated. Customers are demanding more and we in the customer service industry need to be ready to respond.
“According to Hubspot Research, 55% of customers trust companies less than they did in the past.”
A personalized approach and omnichannel offerings are in demand by consumers. As that demand is met, we in the industry cannot forget about the ever-present threat of digital security.
Personalized Customer Service
Simply put, personalized customer service is when the experience is tailored to the consumer’s specific needs and preferences. I like to think of personalized service in the terms of the “Cheers Effect.” Because sometimes you do want to go where somebody knows your name. And what products or services you enjoy.
Why Does Personalization Matter in the Customer Service Industry?
Brand loyalty is hard. According to Hubspot Research, 55% of customers trust companies less than they used to. Thirty-three percent say they’d switch companies after just one instance of poor service, says American Express.
How do you keep customers coming back? Personalized service that is truly tailed to your customers.
According to netomi.com:
- 80% of consumers are more inclined to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience.
- 93% of companies experience an increase in conversion rates from personalization.
- 65% of customers say that personalization influences their brand loyalty.
Something as simple as welcoming customers back to your website or saying their name when they call your customer care line can go a long way in making them feel like they are welcome. Want to take that a notch up? Offer up products and services that complement past purchases or that purchase currently sitting in their cart.
Take the time to map your customer journey and plot points of opportunity to add personalization into that mix.
Personalization in the AI Age
One key advancement for personalization opportunities comes from artificial intelligence, better known as AI. AI offers companies the opportunity to provide their customers individualized experiences, and officially cans the idea of a one-size-fits-all approach with your customers. We know not all customers are the same. AI makes it easier for us to build profiles on each customer and provide a customized experience with our company designed just for them.
AI is used anywhere from website chatbots to offering products based on a customer’s shopping history to providing customer service agents with information and suggestions on what to offer a caller. Forbes has a great article 15 Ways to Leverage AI in Customer Service with ideas to leverage in your customer service.
“Personalized customer service is when the experience is tailored to the consumer’s specific needs and preferences.”
Omnichannel Care is No Longer Optional
If the pandemic advanced one element for the customer service industry, it was that customers want access to customer care in their preferred format. While voice service has historically ruled the channels, chat, email, social media, and even knowledge bases have grown in demand.
Today’s customers want to reach companies on the platforms they are already on. Having a diverse portfolio of customer care channels offers more opportunities to connect with an audience that will purchase from your business. And keep coming back. According to a consumer report by Gladly, 63% of consumers fall in love with brands because of great service and 62% would recommend that brand to a friend for the same reason.
So how do find the right mix of channels? Go back to your customer journey. Make sure you’re not only looking for when customers connect with your business, but how. Determine the most used and most preferred channels and develop a plan to offer customer service through them. Then test. Make sure those channels are being used and adjust your customer care plans to improve those care channels.
Digital Security is a Customer Expectation
While the consumer is driving up the number of channel options available for customer care, of equal importance is maintaining their digital security. Customer care access points through a keyboard are increasing and expanding. Our data is easily auto-fed to forms across the Internet. Just think how many times today Google has offered to save some form of data for you.
Our information is everywhere. And with businesses continually announcing data breaches, consumers are worried about just where their data may land.
It’s a balancing act, providing security for customers while trying not to hinder their experience when interacting with your company. Consumers want to be protected, but they also don’t want to spend 20 minutes finding every fire hydrant, crosswalk, or bus in tiny, fuzzy squares.
Every company must spend their due diligence developing a secure customer journey. Map, review, and develop an action plan for implementation. Digital security is something that consumers worry about, and as business owners and leaders, must be a topic of top concern.
Digital growth is expanding rapidly in the customer service industry. Understanding our customers and creating a plan that meets their needs while protecting their data is essential to building brand loyalty with today’s consumers.
Part 2 of our State of Customer Service dives into a topic making headlines across the U.S. – Our people working the front lines of customer care. Watch for this post on April 14.
About Five Star Call Centers
Five Star Calls Centers has been an industry leader in the contact center outsourcing industry for nearly 40 years. They deliver voice, email, chat, social media, IVR, and consulting services across the U.S. and are dedicated to learning and implementing state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge practices. Services are offered onshore, nearshore and offshore.
About the Author - Joel Sylvester
Joel’s career spans hundreds of companies and helping each enhance their customer experience. He has recruited, trained, and coached award-winning customer services teams across the globe in industries spanning retail, finance, product support, healthcare, hospitality and more. Today, Joel serves as partner and chief client officer for Five Star Call Centers, an outsourcing call center offer onshore, nearshore and offshore services.