How Customer Service Conversations Can Resolve Tricky Situations

Man with water, coffee, in a office

Today, customers know more than ever before. They have access to continual customer reviews via social media, use self-service resources to educate themselves on products and services, and are well-versed in the digital space to find the information they need. With 4.33 billion active internet users across the globe, there’s no doubt that your customers are browsing your website, social media platforms and review sites to get to know your brand.

While we’d all like to think that visits to our websites all hold positive intentions, some customers may come to complain or discuss their negative experience with a product or service you’ve provided. These tricky situations may require having a customer service conversation, one in which your agents can turn what started as a discussion with a dissatisfied customer into a positive situation. With the right skills and resources, you can train your customer service agents to engage in highly effective conversations that leave your brand with a positive reputation.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what defines a positive customer service conversation, some of the benefits that come with having an optimal customer service team and how Kustomer can help your agents better support your customers.

What Makes a Customer Service Conversation Effective?

In a recent episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, hosted by Kustomer’s VP of Growth Gabe Larsen, titled “How Customer Service Has Transformed Over the Last 20 Years,” Kustomer CEO Brian Birnbaum joined Larsen to discuss how the customer experience has drastically evolved thanks to the adoption of online support. Today, many customers are using online chat to connect with brands for support, and will only continue to do so in the future.

When a customer service conversation occurs, agents are expected to support each person in a way that will drive loyalty and retention. On the podcast, Birnbaum shared his thoughts on the topic and how customer service staff can step up their game to ensure an effective conversion:

“I would say make sure you’re supporting your customers in the way that they want to be supported. Right? … The bar is going up and up every single day, right? … When you have a bad experience, you’re taking it to Twitter, you’re telling all your friends about it, right? So over-index on those amazing support experiences and the ways to do that would be through the higher caliber of agents here that are very well trained and then a tool that’s going to enable those agents to be successful. And certainly, our product can help you do that. But I would focus on that. I think that’s one of those amazing support experiences that will drive customer loyalty and retention.”

To have an effective conversation goes beyond setting the bar high, however. Customer service agents should be well equipped with not only the skills and knowledge needed to provide positive interactions — they can also benefit from valuable resources to streamline their response. Overcoming tricky situations may be intimidating and difficult to navigate, but the right response tools can ease the process. Here are a few ways to have more effective customer service conversations:

Have the right skills.

According to Indeed, some of the top customer service skills include: communication, empathy, patience, active listening and quick thinking. Customer service representatives should be equipped with these skills to handle tricky situations as they arise.

Remember: Not all customers are created equal.

In another episode of Customer Service Secrets, Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania joined Larsen to discuss why focusing on the right customer gives companies a major advantage. He said that customer treatment simply isn’t “one-size-fits-all,” and focusing on the customers that can bring more value to the company are the ones that can really help the business grow.

Take in customer feedback.

Allow customers to rate the conversation or provide feedback to help agents improve the customer experience based on past interactions.

Top Five Benefits of Effective Customer Service Conversations

Customer service conversations can go a long way; when customers feel heard and receive a personal response from the company, both the customer and the business win. Here are some of the many benefits:

1. Positive Brand Reputation

When customers feel more comfortable sharing their questions and concerns with your company, it could impact the outlook they have on your business entirely. An Accenture Strategy Research Report found that 42% of consumers will stop giving a brand business if they’re frustrated with the company. Additionally, 21% of those consumers admit that they’ll never go back after walking away. An effective customer service conversation can solve issues before they turn into lost business.

2. Customer Loyalty and Retention

When customer service conversations go well, consumers are more likely to continue purchasing a brand’s products or services regularly. According to a 2017 Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report, 95% of customers surveyed across the globe consider effective customer service to be one of the most important factors in determining their loyalty to a brand.

3. Repeat Business

Customer loyalty goes a long way; it generally means that repeat business is inevitable. In fact, according to the Accenture report, nearly half of consumers spend more money with companies that they’re loyal to. An effective customer service conversation can help consumers feel more comfortable and confident in your business — enough to come back for more products or services — especially if a problem is solved or a relationship is built during the conversation.

4. Competitive Advantage

Companies within the same industry are constantly searching for strong differentiators, but customer service has become a competitive priority. In fact, a Gartner survey found that 89% of companies compete on the quality of their customer service on its own. An effective customer service conversation, via live chat, social, e-mails or customer care line, can be what sets your business apart from industry competitors and keeps customers choosing your business over their other options.

5. Friendly and Helpful Customer Service Staff Members

Effective customer service conversations don’t only have an impact on your consumers and the bottom line of your business; they also largely affect your customer service support team. The Microsoft service report found that 30% of customers say that speaking with an agent who is both knowledgeable and friendly are the two most important factors during a customer service interaction. Staff members can feel a sense of satisfaction by having effective customer service conversations, motivating them to be even more helpful and friendly for future interactions.

How Kustomer Can Help You Support Your Customers

Kustomer’s business model is built around helping companies better connect with their customers to meet their expectations. With many people spending more of their free time at home, customers have ample opportunity to reach your team and are expecting their wants and needs to be met with a real-time response. With Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform, you can achieve continuous omnichannel conversations by using artificial intelligence as a supplemental tool to aid agents and deflect low level support.

These unprecedented times have encouraged us to conduct a special report: How the Global Pandemic Is Affecting Customer Service Organizations, which analyzes how businesses are reacting to the global pandemic. Many of the results are very powerful, for example, 79% of customer service organizations have felt a significant impact of the coronavirus, with about 1% reporting no impact at all.

Throughout the report, you can learn more about meeting customers’ needs during the pandemic and further understand other valuable insights that can get your business through these tough times.

For more general information about how we can help your customers feel heard and assist you in providing quality customer service, contact us directly or request a demo today.
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Multichannel Support Is Not Omnichannel Support. Here’s Why.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Consumers expect to be able to contact your brand anywhere, anytime. Their needs must be immediately recognized, and they demand high-quality results on the channels that are most convenient in their greatest times of need. But true omnichannel support is more than simply communicating with customers on every channel. Read on to learn the difference between omnichannel vs. multichannel support, and how an omnichannel approach can transform your level of service.

What’s the Big Difference?

Let’s clear the air – multichannel support is not omnichannel support. Unfortunately, the terms have almost become interchangeable, with many companies and technology providers conflating the two. Multichannel support simply means offering consumers more than one method for contacting customer service.

Why Multichannel Support Isn’t Sufficient

In a multichannel support environment each channel lives in its own silo with its own dedicated team of agents. There is limited communication or sharing of information between channels. Most of the time, when a customer contacts a company, the team manning that channel will create a ticket. If the customer then contacts the company through a different channel about the same issue, a second ticket will be created with each team working their respective tickets. For example, if a customer had spoken to an agent first on chat and now via email, the chat team and email team would have no record of each other’s conversations with the customer.

As a result of this fragmented experience, customers will have to take the time to repeat to the second agent what they told the first agent. In addition, multichannel support leads companies to focus on resolving tickets, rather than building stronger customer relationships, because agents lack a holistic view of each customer.

How Omnichannel Support Elevates Your Service

Omnichannel support, by comparison, shifts the perspective from ticket resolution to customer relationship building. Customers have the freedom to move between channels throughout their engagement, and are guaranteed consistency, so each conversation starts where the last ended. True omnichannel support requires:

✓ Being available on any channel the customer wants to use to contact the company
✓ A customer-centric not ticket-centric approach to support
✓ Enabling customers and agents to freely move across channels throughout a single conversation
✓ Placing each customer in touch with the most appropriate resource as quickly as possible to ensure consistency and quality
✓ Agents to have a real-time view into the conversations that occur on all the available channels, so they have context of the issue, without needing the customer to repeat any information

Omnichannel support, if executed properly, provides a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint after acquisition. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to create this type of service environment because sharing data between channels takes a technological overhaul. But the benefits far outweigh the costs, and the right omnichannel strategy will succeed by maximizing the resources you have without overextending them.

To read our full omnichannel guide, and learn how Kustomer can enable you to execute true omnichannel support, click here.

Download Omnichannel Guide

 

Extending the Customer Experience Conversation Beyond the Product

If I’ve learned anything from 23+ years as a digital marketer in the software industry, it’s that customer experience is not just the interaction with a product, but the relationship it starts to build by continually offering relevant content and valuable insights. Having recently joined the Kustomer Krew, I can already tell – they get it. In a company who dedicates itself to helping brands provide a great customer experience, it’s my mission to ensure every interaction with our brand is a great experience, at every touchpoint.

As I make my long commute into the office today, I think about recent conversations of traditional marketing outreach being replaced by content-driven marketing. Essentially, “If you build it, they will come.” But it makes me wonder, with content alone driving my strategy, will I be able to gain the loyalty and the share of voice (SOV) we desire? I imagine our customers are asking themselves does my company’s customer experience lend itself to building the loyalty we desire?

Bringing the Customer Experience to Life

As I embark on bringing the Kustomer Book Club back to life, our second book, “The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty” by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi, we’ll explore the idea of whether or not we need to ‘dazzle’ our customers.

Now I realize these authors aren’t talking about the marketing side of the house, but without the marketing, how does anyone know anything anymore? If we don’t search for that keyword, read that blog, or attend that webinar how will we gain those insights, find those solutions to help us drive revenue and retain our customers?

This book lays out the four pillars of a low-effort customer experience, with robust data, insights and profiles. The authors provide the tools and templates one can start applying right away to improve service, reduce costs, and ultimately generate the elusive loyalty that the ‘dazzle factor’ fails to deliver. The rewards are there for the taking, and the pathway to achieving them is now clearly marked.

A 4 out of 5-star rating on Goodreads, I invite you to grab a copy of this book and join the discussion on September 4th. Here are a few thought-provoking questions to get those academic juices flowing:

    1. What are the implications for the future? Are there long or short-term consequences to the concepts the authors outline?
    2. Are the authors recommendations doable and will you be implementing any of the templates provided?
    3. Do you agree with the concept that customer experience should be effortless ?

Get the details to join this conversation: subscribe to the Customer Experience Book Club.

 

Kim Hahn is the Director of Demand Generation at Kustomer.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service Without Losing the Human Touch

Customers have high expectations when it comes to the level of service they demand from brands. While the American Express Customer Service Barometer found that Americans are willing to spend up to 17% more on businesses with excellent customer service, the top reason most customers switch products or services is because they feel unappreciated by the brand. In fact, 33% of Americans are inclined to switch to a different company after a bad experience.

Unfortunately for companies, the cost of human support is high. Introducing artificial intelligence (AI) into operations is one way companies can control costs while improving their service abilities and maintaining the human touch that makes customers feel appreciated and valued.

What Is AI Customer Service?

While AI and machine learning may at first appear to threaten the customer service industry, they actually have the power to make customer service agents’ jobs less time-consuming and more fulfilling.

Integrated AI can instantaneously retrieve the data an agent needs, while the agent or support team deals directly with the human side of customer service. This eliminates the need for human agents to run multiple systems simultaneously to address customer inquiries. Rather than employ agents to work 24/7 in a call center, AI can be used to field and classify calls and messages so human agents are then able to work more reasonable shifts with increased efficiency and reduced physical and mental stress.

Through intuitive machine learning that constantly works to improve itself, AI allows companies to be present to the very best of their abilities along every step of the customer journey.

How Are AI and Machine Learning Being Used in Customer Service?

There are plenty of reasons why AI and automation should be loved, especially when it comes to customer service capabilities. Here are a few ways the technology is already being used:

Chatbots

Everyone has had the experience of needing a simple question answered by a brand, only to dread having to jump through customer service hoops just to get someone on the phone who may or may not have the answer. Conversational chatbots can make these conversations more seamless. Not only do conversational platforms help cut costs, they also can help your customer service scale and enable your agents to have more meaningful and productive conversations. By using chatbots to aid your live chat operations, your business will be able to engage customers in real time without the need for an around-the-clock staff.

Amazon, for instance, uses chatbots that leverage the data the company collects on all of its customers and their past orders. By allowing chatbots to access information about the customer’s past preferences, you can have the chatbot interact with customers up to the point where an agent is needed. Once the conversation is transferred to an agent, they can pick up where the chatbot left off.

Eventually, you can train your chatbot to not only acquire customer information, but also recommend the actions customers and agents should take next. If a customer simply needs a common question answered about a product they already purchased, the chatbot can direct them to a FAQ rather than contact an agent. This saves the human agent’s time and allows them to make better use of it dealing with more complex customer queries. All chatbot interactions can be automatically tagged in your AI system so they’re easy to track and reference, and can be used to improve future recommendations.

Robotic Process Automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) can be used to handle the necessary, but routine tasks that keep support agents from interacting with customers in meaningful ways. By taking care of low-priority, mundane tasks, RPA helps customer service agents reclaim time in their days that would be better spent handling high-value customers or fully addressing complex questions without feeling rushed.

RPA works across multiple systems to track user actions within an application to complete and perform tasks ranging from automatically replying to emails to routing conversations. The improved efficiency from saved time on menial tasks also saves companies money. Aside from cutting costs, RPA has the power to increase revenue by speeding up the rate at which customers are able to make purchases through your company.

Agent Specialization

In the past, automated phone systems performed data dips, moving customers through a phone tree where they were asked to “press 1 for a current reservation,” “press 2 for reception,” “press 3 to make a new appointment” or something similar. The flaw in this system is that the information collected was never handed off to the agent, and the customer would have to repeat themself once they were connected with a human. AI eliminates this unnecessary process — if a customer is calling about a product that’s discontinued, for example, there might not be a need for a human agent to talk to the customer only to relay that same information. This saves time for both parties by supporting your human customer service agent and saving the customer from exasperation.

Using AI to capture information about the customers and pass along only the absolutely necessary parts of that information allows agents to have more meaningful conversations and become more knowledgeable about the areas of the business that matter.

If a customer still wants to talk to a human even after discovering their product is discontinued, the agent can immediately begin the conversation by offering recommendations for other products the customer may like. AI doesn’t eliminate the need for humans, as many people incorrectly assume when they hear talk of using AI in customer service. Instead, it augments the human team and allows them to be better at their jobs.

Monitor Support Operations

When you use AI to monitor support operations, you can predict when conversations may start to turn from positive to negative. This insight allows managers to intercede accordingly, and no longer requires them to randomly audit customer service calls to regulate quality.

AI can also help monitor which responses result in reopened tickets. If response A, for instance, tends to resolve inquiries quickly, but response B results in the ticket repeatedly being opened, the system can recommend you eliminate response B in order to set your agents up for success. Managers and executives can use the data generated by AI to oversee customer service operations in a more clear, efficient way, improving day to day operations for everyone involved.

What Are the Advantages of Automated Customer Service?

Customer satisfaction is directly linked to the service experience, and so it’s important to make sure the customer journey is as seamless as possible. Integrating AI into your customer service isn’t about replacing humans. Rather, it is about arming your customer service agents with the information they need to have purposeful conversations with your customers, and using data to personalize your customers’ experience with your brand.

Incorporating AI customer service not only improves your relationships with your customers, it builds trust and increases brand loyalty. This means more repeat customers, and more word of mouth referrals for your business.

When you build an incremental strategy to roll out AI in your organization and optimize according to data collected, success is sure to follow. Using AI to build a more complete view of a customer’s relationship with the brand helps companies meet high expectations for exemplary service, and come across as anything but artificial.

Kustomer Offers AI Business Solutions

The Kustomer platform stands out among customer service solutions for the comprehensiveness of available customer data and its business process automation that is driven by branchable, multi-step workflows and custom business logic. Kustomer IQ is a groundbreaking new service that integrates machine learning models and other advanced AI capabilities with the Kustomer platform’s powerful data, workflow and rules engines to enable companies to provide smarter, more personalized, automated customer experiences with increased efficiency.

Kustomer IQ integrates machine learning, natural language processing, predictive analytics, deep learning and multi-dimensional neural network mappings as a part of its AI suite. Natural language processing involves the interactions between computer and human language, and dictates the extent to which computers are able to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data. Natural language processing is used along with text analysis, computational linguistics, and biometrics in sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, which helps companies keep a finger on the pulse of their target audience’s interests and values.

Companies that employ the AI suite are then able to use their own data to train Kustomer IQ’s predictive machine learning models, automatically customizing them to address their own business needs. With each new interaction and piece of data, these models learn and self-tune increasing their predictive accuracy and improving the decision making of both the models themselves and the customer service organizations using Kustomer.

Through Kustomer IQ, companies will be able to automate manual, repetitive tasks and essential processes of their customer service experiences. In addition, Kustomer IQ changes the way companies manage knowledge during a service inquiry by surfacing relevant insights and predicting future outcomes to enhance customer self-service, facilitate real time intervention through recommendations, and streamline proactive outreach. By automating everything and providing the right information at the right time, Kustomer IQ frees up agents to focus on more complex and emotional customer interactions, resulting in reduced costs and faster resolution of calls.

Features of Kustomer IQ include automated conversation classification, queues and routing, customer sentiment analysis, automatic language detection, suggested agent shortcuts, customer self-service, conversation deflection and workforce management. If you’re interested in learning more about Kustomer IQ and how it can help elevate your business’s customer service capabilities, download our ebook, explore our website and get in touch today.

Kustomer offers real-time, actionable views of customers, continuous omnichannel conversations, and intelligence that automates repetitive, manual tasks to make personalized, efficient and effortless customer service a reality.

 

The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation

84% of the attendees of our recent webinar, The Truth About Bots and Intelligent Automation, consider Customer Experience Automation a priority for their strategy going forward. What options are available for the automation-minded company, and will a bot deliver amazing service AND make you breakfast? Well, not quite. We got to the bottom of these questions on air, and you can too from the recap below.

Watch the recording here.

Peter Johnson, Kustomer’s VP of Product, and Kaan Ersun, Solvvy’s SVP of Marketing, are both authorities on bots, automation, and using intelligent technologies for better service and support. They discussed the pros and cons of the solutions out there, and made some suggestions for picking and enabling more intelligent service.

Is Automation a Priority?

To kick things off, we started with a poll to take the temperature of the audience. We asked, “Is adopting a customer experience automation solution, such as bots, a priority for you / your organization?” The results were surprising—the majority of respondents were actively pursuing an automation strategy. Here’s the breakdown:

Yes, this year: 40%

Yes, next year: 32%

Yes, within 2 years: 12%

Not a priority: 16%

Terms You Need to Know

To level-set, PJ and Kaan laid out an overview of the terminology they’ll be using when discussing this complicated technology.

While “intelligent” technologies have existed since Roman times, the term “Artificial Intelligence” came into use in the 1950s—though truly intelligent products just started becoming widely available over the last handful of years. Machine Learning is a more specific application, referring to the ability of machines to advance their program and “learn” from their mistakes without additional programming. A good example is the recent Google AI that beat a world champion at Go. Deep Learning is an even more advanced subset, describing computers that use algorithms that mimic the neural networks of the human brain—meaning they can learn on multiple levels without human supervision.

Bots—Are They All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

But how are these advancements being used on a practical level today? Bots are already taking on a variety of service and service-adjacent tasks within the enterprise, from Digital Marketing and DIY Service, to use cases involving virtual assistants. However, these experiments are still in their early stages. While they may help scale your service, they require a lot of effort to build, and lack customer understanding and the ability to deliver a quality, memorable experience. When you look at the cost and effort to build one versus the level of experience they provide, the math is a bit off.

As PJ put it:

“You’ve probably contacted or been contacted by a support system that tried to act like a human being, but clearly is not. One of our best practices is not to try to seem human, because it can really hurt your brand image and experience.”

On top of that, they aren’t exactly plug-and-play. Service teams have to create replies for every possible input, and they need to be customized for the relevant terminology and details of your business. Actually integrating them with your existing data systems can be a headache, plus they need ongoing maintenance every time you add a new feature or product.

Who’s Using Bots?

Bots may not be the tech overlords they’ve been billed as (yet), but other applications of automation and intelligent systems can supe up your support. And, it’s probably not too late. In our second poll, we learned that most attendees haven’t started using bots yet:

We asked, “What has been your experience with traditional bot technology in your CX operations?” and these were the results:

We use a bot today and love it: 9%

We use a bot today and have encountered some issues: 12%

We use a bot today and have encountered many issues: 12%

I don’t use any bot technology today: 67%

From Bots to Conversational Experience

Before you start experimenting with bots, it’s good to know your options. As Kaan recommended:

“It’s key to have an overarching, holistic automation strategy first—then you can deploy bots as point solutions.”

Bots are a part of this strategy, but not the only focus. Instead, you can also use automation in conjunction with other integrations and platforms to create a stronger experience. Conversational forms look like a chat, but can be used to gather customer info and issues before handing off to a more capable agent to handle the issue. A system that automatically suggests responses to agents works the same as a bot, but uses the added layer of human oversight to learn the right way to respond by tracking your agents’ decisions. And automation is useful for suggesting tags, categorization, macros, helpbase articles, and assisting workflow and reporting—all things that can speed up your experience and make it more efficient, without directly interacting with customers.

As PJ summarized: “Automation is not just about helping the customer, it’s about helping your support organization scale, and identifying areas the product team can improve.”

Kutomer and Solvvy work together to make conversational experience a reality. If you submit a question to Solvvy and can’t find the answer, you can choose to instantly open up a chat in Kustomer and get the answer. Kustomer’s conversational form then collects your personal information, then connects you with an agent who knows your whole customer history.

Where to Begin?

Where do you start the process of using automation or bots strategy if you haven’t already? Kaan had some advice: “Number one, define a strategy, and figure out where the bot can be useful to you, where it won’t work, then pursue new opportunities. Start with the big picture, then move towards implementation.”

Adding to Kaan’s advice, PJ suggested going straight to the data: “First thing: Look at your reporting, and see where you have the highest level of support volume. Look for patterns, see which questions your customers are asking, and what the most repetitive tasks are for your agents?”

If you’re taking a wide-angle approach and carefully planning your strategy, instead of leaping head first into messing around with a bot, your initiatives are much more likely to be a success.

You can always watch the recording HERE, and for more great insights into service, experience, and technology, follow Solvvy and Kustomer.

Product Update: Making Live Chat Scalable

Online chat is everywhere these days, but many companies are still figuring out how best to manage chat conversations at scale. This is why Kustomer’s Chat function—available over both web and mobile—now includes a few features that makes life easier for support teams.

End Chats

Kustomer Chat now includes the option to “End Chats”. Now agents can permanently close a chat conversation once it’s over. This will happen when an agent marks a conversation as Done—locking the ability for a customer to type a reply back to the chat (they can always open a new chat, of course).

This also adds an “end chat” button to the customer experience, allowing the customer to end a conversation when they are done communicating and notifying the agent. In addition, it sets customer expectations regarding agent availability, so customers aren’t replying to chat messages when agents are not available.

Single Chat Sessions

Another option available to companies is to allow only one chat conversation from a customer at a time. This feature ensures that every customer is matched with one agent, and limits the number of teams the customer may work with at once.

Chat Reporting

Support teams that choose to activate the above feature will also be able to better track open and closed conversations and more accurately analyze their chat volume. For example, if you collect the contact reason, every conversation will (usually) have a single reason for contact (unlike chat conversations that are opened again and again, for a different reason each time), so you can look at a definitive number of closed chat conversations per specific topics.

Kustomer Chat is always evolving. Our latest updates to Kustomer Chat include:

  • Conversational Assistant: a pre-conversational feature that helps your team collect information from customers automatically, before reaching the agent.
  • Chat Availability: a feature that incorporates Business Hours into the chat experience, allowing admins to determine what the after-hours experience will be for chat users.
  • Chat Deflection: helps to set proper expectations for your customers with estimated reply times, and diverts traffic when your Chat team doesn’t respond by directing your customers to other channels.

Kustomer Chat is used by online marketplaces and direct-to-consumer brands like Slice, Zeal, UNTUCKit, LOLA, PetcareRX and more. Schedule a demo below to see how Kustomer Chat can work for your business:

What Is Conversational Service—And Why Is It the Latest Trend in Customer Support?

You may be hearing about “conversational” support, and we’ve previously discussed some examples, but let’s pin down what it really means in practice. Conversational support, service, and experience are methods of helping customers that focus on building a long-term relationship, rather than resolving a series of issues. They use context and conversations to make it easy for customers to get help while allowing agents to provide more personalized support at scale.

Read our full whitepaper here.

Imagine trying to build a friendship with someone new if you had to ask for their name, address, and a list of interests every time you interacted. They’d be understandably upset that you couldn’t remember anything about them. And you wouldn’t be able to build a relationship if you start from the ground up with every conversation. Ease of communication and connection are starting to raise customer expectations, and they increasingly expect the same treatment from brands as they do from their friends.

Delivering this level of relational support might have been impossible at scale even a few years ago. But technology is catching up to the expectations of customers. By integrating systems and channels, and empowering agents to build relationships, every company now has the ability to deliver conversational customer support to every single customer.

So, what constitutes conversational service?

Omnichannel Outreach

With so many support channels available, the variety can be overwhelming. Instead of putting that burden on your customers, why not implement an omnichannel support solution and let them reach you on their preferred method—whether that’s email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, mobile app messages, voice, or any other option you offer?

Traditional transactional support treats each new contact through a different channel as a different incident. Help desks allow agents to “merge” these transactions into one, but agents have to locate the tickets and information frequently gets lost between multiple systems.

When using an omnichannel support system, it’s easy for customers to contact you on their end while the conversation continues between channels, ensuring sure all the relevant information stays in one place.

An Integrated View

Understanding how customers have come to land in your queue is a big part of conversational customer support. Context is key to helping customers effectively. Pulling context from other systems, including your own product or storefront, makes it easy to see what’s going wrong, or even jump in proactively.

For example:

  • Does the customer have an order being delivered? What’s the current status of the shipment?
  • What other products have the customer purchased? Can you suggest something that fits their previous history?
  • Does the customer have a quarterly business review or renewal coming up? Should sales be pulled into the conversation?
  • Has the customer searched the knowledge base already? Have they read relevant documentation, or would that be helpful to send?

Creating a support environment that allows for ongoing conversations and a 360 view of the customer, rather than one-off phone calls or email tickets, enables you to build better relationships with your customers.

Building Rapport

It’s not always what you say—it’s also how you say it. Most people already have a good idea of what a conversational tone sounds like. It’s friendly, engaging and polite. There’s no lecturing or academic business-speak, and it doesn’t sound robotic. It’s easy to follow, and when you read it out loud, it sounds helpful and natural.

Because conversational customer support helps build relationships, you might see the same customers coming back time and time again for support. You’ll have their previous conversation history available, so feel free to ask them how their last trip went, how their daughter liked their new shoes, or wish them a happy birthday—as long as it’s professional.

Moving beyond a dry, transactional tone helps break down walls between you and the customer.

To recap:

By taking a more conversational approach, you can win over customers with an experience that feels personal, intuitive, and informed by what they really want. In essence, conversational service is how you can help your agents and your brand act and feel more human.

Whitepaper: From Transactional Service to Conversational Experience

The best way to implement conversational customer support effectively is with a tool built to handle it. Whichever one you choose—Kustomer or another option—you need a full view of the customer, omnichannel capabilities, and full agent empowerment. With that, your team can finally deliver a modern, meaningful customer experience. To learn more about how Kustomer can help deliver a conversational experience for your brand, request a demo below:

3 Examples of Conversational Experience

It’s good to have a conversation with your customers, but talking alone isn’t enough. Encouraging customers to contact you over their preferred channels means you need to be ready to respond just as fast as their closest friends. Often, conversations can go in different directions. Sometimes customers may be trying to make a return when what they really need is an exchange. Or they may decide to buy a new product in the middle of asking about a different one. That means that conversational commerce and conversational service are two sides of the same coin. If you want to engage your customers on a 1-1 basis and in real time, then your entire customer experience needs to be part of the conversation. A truly conversational experience is hard to find, but we’ve shared some examples from Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece in Forbes to give you a better idea:

Example 1: IoT

Problem: Your customer’s smart speakers aren’t connecting to WiFi.

Conversational Solution:

  • Your proprietary app brings up an FAQ article when it detects that your customer is not connecting to WiFi.
  • Your automated customer service platform sends an email with an instructional video and support desk information if it detects that your customer has reset their device three times or more.
  • You assign customers who have had multiple problems with high-priority when they call your customer service number so they connect to an agent quickly.
  • Your agent knows that they’ve already received the FAQ and video because your platform gives them a single view of the customer. With that, they can skip ahead to advanced troubleshooting so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the same steps.

Example 2: Meal Delivery Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs to change their subscription and delivery dates.

Conversational Solution:

  • If the customer has to change their delivery location or date, a chatbot or automated solution should instantly handle these simple tasks.
  • If the request is more logistically complicated, like pausing for a week then delivering to a different location, the request should be elevated to an agent.
  • If the request is more complex than that, like changing dietary requirements, agents should get on the phone and consult with them 1-1 to deliver the best possible experience.

Example 3: Clothing Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs a more consultative experience.

Conversational Solution:

  • If customers are asking for a simple request like changing the date of the delivery, agents should ask questions and get more information.
  • If there is a bigger reason, like they’re getting a new job, then an agent should be empowered to step up and act like a stylist to pick more formal options.
  • This more hands-on experience encourages customers to upgrade to a higher subscription tier in the future.

Read the full Forbes article here.

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