To Deliver Personalized Customer Service, You Must First Become Truly Omnichannel

Though many companies bill themselves as purveyors of exceptional customer service, the reality is markedly different. In fact, for most, a typical customer service experience can devolve to tropes often reserved for speed dating. Too frequently, customers find themselves having to reshare their name, history, and aim ad nauseum when communicating with a brand’s customer service team. And so, what should be a straightforward and personalized experience often becomes a fragmented, impersonal one.

The numbers paint a bleak landscape. According to the CCW Digital 2019 Market Study, 49% of organizations felt their biggest concern was a lack of 360-degree view of their customers—as a result, they couldn’t provide a unified experience across all channels. What’s more, insufficient data and disconnected systems make it a challenge for businesses to know enough about their customers to personalize the customer service experience.

To make matters trickier for companies, personalization cannot be siloed by channel. For example, what good is it to email Jeremy an account update with his name branded in the subject line, when he has to remind three live chat agents that he’s been a loyal customer for six years when trying to modify said account?

Think about it: Can you truly deliver on the promise of personalized customer service when that personalization happens inconsistently—or incompletely even? It stands to reason then that customer service cannot be truly personalized without also being truly omnichannel as well.

Servicing silos is costing everyone—yes, it’s costing you, too

Impersonal customer service isn’t cheap. It costs customers time, and it costs companies customers.

Every year, bad customer service shoos away $75 billion in the U.S alone (yes, right into the willing hands of your competitors). And the bleeding shows no signs of slowing. In fact, it’s a growing trend, with more and more lost revenue tied to shoddy service per annum, and with millennials—the most populous American generation—more likely to hopscotch brands than their predecessors.

It’s an uptick that certainly brings Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, to mind, who has said before “that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”

While perhaps a bit hyperbolic, his words rightly suggest the growing importance of exceptional customer service in today’s business world. While customer centricity shouldn’t necessarily be a state of being for companies, it should certainly become a chief operative for brands both emerging and established, and it should incentivize them to move away from siloed customer service streams. Especially when considering that customers dwell on bad customer service experiences for far longer than they do on bad products or services. And with 78% of consumers announcing frustrations with inconsistent experiences or needing to repeat themselves across customer service channels, a positively-received customer service experience can depend directly on proper omnichannel management and continuity.

Taking a channel-agnostic approach

In today’s hyper-connected world, you must not just think like the customer, you must communicate like them too, and be channel agnostic.

People today connect asynchronously. They have no allegiance to any one platform or any one service. And their channel proliferation is happening at breakneck speed. One moment they can be @mentioning your brand on Twitter, while another they’ll be shooting over a screenshot of said @mention over text.

They communicate with friends and family in this manner, perhaps even with coworkers and superiors as well, and expect the same sort of nimble, contextualized, and convenient communication in other facets of their lives. And while they may have a channel of choice, companies must understand that said channel can change over time. Or, over the course of a week.

To put things further into perspective, today’s average consumer uses 10 separate channels to connect with companies. Yes, 10.

And yet, it’s more possible than ever for brands to navigate this whirlwind with grace, sophistication, and humanity. Ultimately, while channels might change or increase in number, conversations must remain at the forefront of every interaction.

Conversations connect people—they always have. And customer service agents must be encouraged and enabled to establish genuine connections with their customers. To do so effectively, they must also have adequate background information and context—on any client, on any platform, in any market, and at any moment. Silos will only inhibit them from delivering on customer expectations and forming a loyalty-building bond. They should understand who they’re servicing and how—and they should have that knowledge at a moment’s notice.

Ultimately it comes down to arming them with agent-friendly solutions that improve the customer experience over time, and that will ideally help reduce this sad reality: more than 50% of customers have found themselves having to re-explain an issue to teams of customer service reps.

Moving from multichannel to omnichannel

For too many brands, the need to keep up with the growing number of channels has meant adding solutions without integrating the customer experience. This multichannel approach has created silos of customer service agents and information. Each channel is staffed with its own team and creates its own record of customer information that isn’t broadly shared among the rest of the customer service organization. For example, if a customer had interacted with an agent earlier on chat and now via email, the chat team and email team would have no record of each other’s conversations or the solutions they each offered, leading to potential agent collision.

Truly omnichannel platforms like Kustomer enable agents and customers to have a single threaded discussion about a topic that spans all of the channels their customers may use. Agents and customers can seamlessly switch between different channels as needed during a conversation while progressing the discussion. And customers never have to repeat information because agents always have the context of every conversation through a comprehensive timeline of previous interactions, purchases, and customer data all in a single view, on a single platform. As a result, you can deliver truly personalized, omnichannel customer service even as the constellation of channels continues to grow.

Ready to learn how Kustomer can help you drive personalized, efficient, and effortless customer service across all channels? Request a live demo here.

 

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service—Without Losing the Human Touch

Customers have high expectations for brands—and that includes customer service. According to Forrester Research, 67% of adults feel that the most important thing a company can do to provide good customer service is value their time. And when it comes to making a purchase, Gartner found that 64% think customer service is actually more important than price. Furthermore, the number one reason a customer switches products or services is because they feel unappreciated by the brand.

But the cost of human support is high—according to Forrester Research, it can cost a company as much as $12 per contact depending on the channel. So how do companies meet high customer expectations while still making them feel valued? Introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its operations is one way companies can control costs while upping their customer service game, without losing the human touch that makes customers feel appreciated.

Relegate the mundane

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 by 30%, they also can help your customer service scale and your agents have more meaningful and productive conversations with your customers when it matters the most.

Amazon, for instance, uses chatbots to leverage the data the company collects on all of its customers about their past orders. By programming chatbots with information about the customer’s past preferences, you can have conversational platforms interact with customers up to the point where an agent is needed. Then, once the conversation is transferred to an agent, the agent can pick up where the chatbot left off. This way, when it comes time for human interaction, the customer and the agent can have a more productive conversation without the customer having to repeat the information they provided to the chatbot.

Eventually you can program 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 without an agent getting involved. All of these interactions can be automatically tagged in the system, so they’re easy to track and reference, while also improving future recommendations. Besides streamlining processes, think of how much happier you’ll make your customer service agents—and happy customer service agents means happier customers.

Automate business processes

Consider this: Every minute you add back to an agent’s day by eliminating tedious tasks translates into more conversations per existing agent, while also giving them the time they need to handle high-value customers or go deeper on complex questions without feeling rushed. So how do you find more minutes in the day? 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. RPA can track user actions within an application to complete a task and then perform the task, working across multiple digital systems. It can range from automatically replying to emails to routing conversations.

A global insurance provider has deployed RPA for a wide-variety of purposes from streamlining policy renewals to speeding customer claims. In one instance, RPA is taking information from customer communications with the company and matching it with the appropriate claims forms. Taking a process that once took 4 minutes down to 42 seconds. KPMG estimates that companies using RPA to automate business processes can reduce costs by up to 75%.

Turn agents into specialists

According to IBM, 80% of tier 1 support inquiries can be handled by a chatbot and elevated to a human agent if necessary. In the past, automated phone systems performed data dips, moving customers through a phone tree (“press 1 for a current reservation”) without handing the agent any information that the phone system captured. 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.

By using AI to capture information about the customers, and then passing customers and the information collected to agents only when absolutely necessary, agents can have more meaningful conversations and become more knowledgeable about the areas of the business that matters. 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.

Better management, better business

Gone are the days of randomly auditing customer service calls. By using AI to monitor your support operations, you can predict when conversations will start to go south allowing managers to intercede accordingly. 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 both clearer and more efficient ways—and this is a win for everyone.

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 more meaningful conversations with your customers, and using data to personalize your customers’ experience with your brand. Build an incremental strategy to roll out AI in your organization and use analytics to leverage the data collected. By using AI to build a more complete view of a customer’s relationship with the brand, companies can meet the high customer expectations for exemplary customer service and come across as anything but artificial.

Ready to learn how Kustomer can help you drive personalized, efficient, and effortless customer service? Discover AI trends in this customer service webinar.

 

Customer Service for the Digital Age

Customer Service for the Digital Age Blog Header

From transactions to experiences, see how today’s customers are changing customer service

The digital age has forever changed the way companies do business. Direct-to-Consumer brands now make up 40 percent of the manufacturers, cutting out middlemen and offering personalized, nimble services and products to their customers. Amazon has redefined our notions of speed, convenience and selection, and companies like Airbnb, WeWork and Car2Go have revolutionized the economy allowing users to exchange the downsides of ownership for the upsides of sharing.

Meanwhile, companies like Birchbox and StitchFix have built up sizeable customer bases—and built-in loyalty—through subscription box services, and companies from Glossier to Parachute are joining the $50 billion pop-up industry, creating customer experiences that unite brick-and-mortar shopping experiences with the nimbleness of online shopping. The result? A business landscape where convenience, personalized service and customer experience are king.

New Generation, New Customer Expectations

But the digital revolution has affected more than just the way that businesses interact with customers. It has also changed what customers expect from businesses. More than three quarters of Americans now own smartphones and communicate regularly through social media platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Modern-day consumers live in a world of interconnected platforms, instant communication, and personalized experiences—and they’ve come to expect the same from brands. And, as millennials become key customers and Generation Y gives way to Generation Z, expectations for quick, easy and customer-centric customer service will only grow.

Already, nine out of ten customers say they prefer to contact a company through messaging, 70 percent of customers say speed a top priority in their shopping experience, and 64 percent say that reducing the effort it takes to engage with a business is a key concern. Ultimately, however, the millennial customer is looking for more than just a product—however good it is, or how speedily it’s delivered. They’re looking for a customer experience, a lifelong interaction with a brand that is more about relationships than transactions.

Out With Old Customer Models, in With the New

In this new business landscape, businesses cannot rely on old models of customer interaction and support. To survive in the world of Amazon and eBay, where inventory is endless and speed is the rule, they must distinguish themselves by finding proactive and creative ways to build long-term relationships with customers over time. And to do this, they have to find new ways to identify and track the changing needs, experiences and expectations of their customers, providing fully-integrated, personalized, 360-degree support over the customer’s lifetime.

Moving from Transactions to Relationships

To provide this kind of support, companies must stop seeing customer interaction as a transaction and start seeing it as an ongoing conversation. Customers are not reducible to tickets, or to emails in a queue. They are complex human beings with a variety of motivations, and they bring a unique history to every customer service interaction.

Unfortunately, many companies are still relying on the old model of customer service, where they treat each new interaction as a separate event handled by different people across a variety of siloed platforms. In this model, there’s no way to store, share and track the customer’s history and past conversations, so customers are forced to repeat their issue to each new service agent. And this is no way to build a relationship!

Imagine if every time you met a new person, you had to tell them your name and life history all over again. It would be exhausting and insulting—and yet, it’s what companies expect customers to do each time they call with a question or problem. No wonder customers rank having to repeat information as their number one customer service complaint!

Know Your (Whole) Customer

To attract, satisfy and keep new customers, companies need to know who their customers are, where they’ve been and what they need. Understanding the context of a customer’s call—from the number of times they’ve ordered a certain product to the issues and conversations they’ve had with agents in the past—allows companies to deliver a more efficient, more personalized, and more proactive service.

Creating an omnichannel system that collects all of the customer’s history in one place transforms the customer service interaction, allowing agents to quickly identify problems, suggest solutions, and preempt future issues. Seeing that a customer has a long history of buying a certain product, for example, can allow an agent to suggest other products they might enjoy, while knowing what prompts a customer to engage with customer service can help the company direct them toward the best platform for resolving their issues. This approach doesn’t just save time by eliminating the need for unnecessary repetition. It also allows companies to build customer histories that ensure proactive, personalized and conversational service—and long-term customer loyalty.

In the modern business climate, the companies that will succeed are the ones that meet people where they are: anytime, any place, and on any channel. But the most successful companies will go beyond offering efficiency and access to a whole new philosophy of customer engagement, building systems that allow them to understand and serve the whole customer. See how Kustomer is setting the standard for customer service in the digital age in this on demand webinar.

 

Kustomer + Jeannie Walters: How to Create an Omnichannel Journey

On the latest Conversations with Kustomer Podcast, we discuss creating an emotionally impactful omnichannel customer journey in an increasingly fragmented service and support landscape.

We sat down with Jeannie Walters to learn the ins and outs of building a memorable customer journey. Jeannie is the CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator of 360Connext. 360Connext specializes in qualitative, human evaluations of the real customer experience through a process called Customer Experience Investigation (CXI). Jeannie is also a Co-Host on the Crack the Customer Code Podcast.

Emotion colors every experience we have—whether we realize it or not. Is there a place you shop just because the people who work there are really nice? Or because you’ve had a positive experience in the past with the brand? Maybe there’s a coffee shop or a bookstore where you end up spending way more than you set out to just because of their warm, friendly experience.

How can customer service and support teams spread that positive feeling when customers are contacting them over the phone, over email, over chat, and across all of these channels and more? It definitely isn’t easy, but it is very possible.

Listen to hear our answers to these questions:

  • What is the process of mapping the customer journey?
  • How do you retain your customers’ trust?
  • How can customer experience professionals use empathy while designing the customer experience?
  • When should you rely on data to design your journey, and when should the process be more intuitive?
  • How can you deliver a personalized experience for each customer?
  • How can customer support organizations improve the experience more proactively?
  • How is this process of mapping the customer journey different for B2B versus B2C brands?

For the latest from Kustomer, follow us at @Kustomer on Twitter.

What Is It Like to Work on the Product Team at Kustomer?

If you’re interested in joining the Kustomer team, check out our Careers Page.

What is it actually like to work here at Kustomer? We’re going to help answer this question in a series of interviews with folks from every department to tell you about their unique experience, and how it applies to anyone looking to join our team.

Here’s Peter Johnson, VP of Product at Kustomer, to share what it’s like to build our powerful platform for customer experience:

Q: What is unique about working on and building the Kustomer platform?

PJ: We get the chance to totally challenge the status-quo in the support space and re-imagine what a modern CRM should look like. We get to ask questions like, “Could ticketing be done better?” or “How can we improve on legacy routing models?” These are old problems being reimagined in modern tech, and we’re at the forefront of them.

Q: What skills and programming languages do we recommend applicants know and use on our team?

PJ: Project Managers and Designers don’t need to be able to code at Kustomer! Though it doesn’t hurt to know HTML/CSS or Javascript. I think the most important skill is being able to learn quickly. Yes, having previous experience leading a dev team, designing in Sketch, working in Agile, etc. are all helpful traits. However, the best PMs/Designers are open-minded, data-driven, curious, and genuinely give a shit about the products they design.

Q: What features are the product team most proud of?

PJ: Many come to mind: Obviously the Customer timeline, Synchronous and Asynchronous Chat Product, and Chat Conversation Assistant are highlights. Though I’d say that I’m even more amazed at what we were able to ship considering how quickly we shipped it, with such a small team, and in such a short timeframe.

Q: How does Kustomer set up its Product team for growth and success?

PJ: We try to inject data into the decision-making process as much as possible—both qualitatively and quantitatively. Existing customer feature usage metrics, as well as feedback, are extremely important in our future feature decision-making. There’s a quote I love that says “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

Q: If you had to describe the Product team in one word, what would it be?

PJ: Kustomer. We commonly use the phrase “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.” At the end of the day, no phrase or one word sums up our team better. The results our team’s hard work and output can be seen in the Kustomer product.

Q: What kinds of things does the Product team do as a team outside of work?

PJ: A few recent events we’ve done: a ping-pong outing at Fat Cat, lunches in Bryant Park, drinks at the Pennsy—we definitely have a lot of fun as a team.

Q: Where have other members of the Product team worked in the past?

PJ: Social networks, CRM software companies, real estate management software, health startups, video chat software, and more.

Q: What are some of the benefits of working at Kustomer?

PJ: Beyond things like great health insurance and snacks, I’d have to say ownership. You have the chance to design and be a part of launching a totally original product that has your fingerprints on it, and is used by thousands of people every day. It’s a really satisfying feeling to own a product end-to-end.

If all of this sounds makes you think, “Wow, Kustomer sounds like the kind of place I want to work,” then we have some good news. We’re growing fast, and are hiring for our Product team in our NY office RIGHT NOW! If you’re interested in joining our team, apply directly here.

5 Things You Can Start Doing to Go From Reactive to Proactive Support

In our CEO and Co-Founder Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece for Forbes, he dives deep into the theory and practice of proactive service.

How can you prepare your service organization to anticipate your customers’ desires in order to deliver an experience that defies their expectation? We’ve outlined some steps you can start taking to upgrade your experience and delight your customers with forward-thinking support.

  1. Train Your Team: Proactive service isn’t just about analytics, it requires an equal amount of human insight. Before investing in tech, make sure you have a team of engaged agents that are already thinking about your customers’ needs. For example, Outdoor Voices’ agents are able to collaborate more easily because of comprehensive training, amplified by Kustomer’s intuitive interface. Great service starts with great people.
  2. Invest in Analytics: By combining human insight with powerful analytics, reporting, and a record of every customer’s history, you can equip your team with everything they need to know about your stakeholders. Just ask Glossier, who works with Kustomer and Looker to get rich insights into customer behavior. If you don’t have all the data in a single customer view, it’s almost impossible to be proactive.
  3. Have a Secure Data Warehouse: Beyond having all the necessary data at your fingertips, that data needs to be in one safe, central location or network of locations. This can be a system you’ve created in-house, or a third-party CRM—the important thing is security and usability. Read more about our commitment to security here.
  4. Make Searching Easy: When you have all of your customer information in one system, across all of your platforms and integrations, you can create the kind of granular searches for customers that account for their specific behaviors or needs. Once you’re able to identify customers by their last order, their location, their sentiment, and more, surprising and delighting them is a snap. For example, Slice uses Kustomer to segment their users, then automates workflows to deliver more efficient service.
  5. Track the Right Metrics: You need a way to capture how your customers are feeling. That requires a combination of several things. You should be measuring sentiment within customer communications and on social, using surveys that capture metrics like CSAT, NPS, and CES, and tracking behavior across every channel of interaction. For a brand like LOLA, having all the relevant information at agents’ fingertips when customers have a question about their subscriptions is crucial to great service.

To be smart, personal, proactive, and timely requires a lot of moving parts to come together, but doing so is the hallmark of a standout customer experience. Once you’re gathering and storing all of the relevant customer information, you can act on it with a combination of well-trained employees and specific features within your software platform. Once you can connect with individual customers over their preferred channel with the right personalized message, your experience can become a true revenue driver and differentiator for your organization.

Getting there isn’t as simple as completing a checklist—it’s a complex process, unique to every business. However, when all of these threads come together, your customers will see and feel the difference in every interaction.

Get more advice on delivering proactive service from Brad’s piece in Forbes.

Live Chat: What Does a Modern Solution Look Like?

When organizations are considering a chat strategy, there’s a common debate over whether live chat or a messenger app is the right method to use for client communication. Both models have pros and cons, but technologies have evolved to make a hybrid approach not just possible, but effective. By blending both models together, you can test, collect feedback, and grow—and new tools make it easier than ever to take the best from each approach.

Read about Kustomer Chat’s new features here.

But before we define the benefits and drawbacks of each, it’s important to define the difference between “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” messaging.

Synchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with “Live Chat”, where a customer can only maintain one chat “session” at a time with an Agent. These conversations only exist for as long as the customer is active or at least one agent is online.

Asynchronous Messaging:

This is commonly associated with email, social media, or SMS messaging. Within these channels, neither the customer nor the agent communicate in real time. This means customers can start a chat and come back to it an hour later without worrying about ending “sessions”.

What’s wrong with Live Chat?

Chat used to be confined to a website, where customers would wait for an agent to become available. If they got disconnected or refreshed the page, the session would end. To keep customers from waiting after sending their chat message, many organizations would disable the chat experience on their site whenever agents weren’t available. Once connected to an agent, customers would have to stay confined to their desk chairs chatting back and forth until they resolved their issue.

The Old Version of Live Chat: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers get instant replies and immediate feedback, which sets that expectation going forward.
  • CON: The “session” philosophy means a customer can’t message you from their computer, and then respond to you from their mobile phone.
  • CON: Normally works based on “agent availability” meaning that if agents are maxed out or not available chat is removed, and you are asked to leave a message or worse, the website hides chat completely.
  • CON: Missed/Dropped Chats immediately stop a conversation and require everyone to start over.

Why Have Messaging Apps Replaced Live Chat?

With the introduction of smartphones, app-based communication shifted customer expectations. They could open an app, click “contact support”, and start a conversation, but didn’t have to wait around for a reply. When a reply did come, they’d get a notification to check it and keep the conversation going. This allowed customers to move freely from a desktop to their mobile app if they needed to get up and grab a coffee, for example. The ease of use across any device lead to a natural shift from the need to be “live” to customers becoming accustomed to asynchronous messaging within third-party apps.

Asynchronous Messaging App: Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Customers can start a chat from their computer and finish it from their smartphone.
  • PRO: The app is always available as a means to collect and store customer issues while “offline”, which agents can follow up on later.
  • PRO: Past chat conversations can be stored and replied to for context.
  • PRO: Customers don’t expect instant replies.
  • CON: Conversations are never “closed”, making it hard to measure agents on that metric.
  • CON: Conversations with customers are dragged out over a longer period of time, slowing down resolution times.
  • CON: Customer can always reply to old conversations, which can make it harder to follow up and provide timely or quality support.

While asynchronous messaging has become more popular, there are some great concepts that underlie Live Chat functionality, like using Agent Availability to set expectations. Instead of completely removing the experience of chat from your site when agents aren’t available, you can collect customers’ info and issue, and then pass them to another channel for follow-up—setting the expectation that a reply will not be live.

Modern Chat Gives You the Best of Both Worlds

Ideally, you can bridge the gap between these kinds of synchronous and asynchronous messaging by providing a customer the ability to chat live with an agent, but maintain an asynchronous state when agents are not available or over-capacity by shifting the conversation to channels like email or text messaging or setting expectations about your reply times.

Customers need a fast response to get an answer or complete a sale—like asking about clothing sizes on a retail site—but you can’t always provide 24/7 communication. That’s why your chat tool needs to evolve to combine the best features of synchronous Live Chat and an asynchronous Messaging App. Kustomer chat is always on, allowing you to set business hours so that customers have the right expectations. That makes it easy to provide synchronous chat when agents are available, and asynchronous when they’re not. The history of every conversation is saved across platforms, so it’s easy for agents and customers to move from platform to platform for a fully omnichannel chat experience. The option to close conversations makes chat support more efficient and easier to manage and measure, and because everything is tied to the customer, agents have all the necessary conversation when they start a new one. Modern chat solutions meet the expectations of your customers and the needs of your business—and with Kustomer Chat, you can deliver the best possible chat and messaging experience.

Kustomer’s Chat makes it easy to deliver the experience that’s right for your team and organization. To learn more about our latest additions to our chat offering, read our product update here.

Conversations with Kustomer Podcast: How can Marketing and Customer Support Create a Consistent Experience? Featuring Sue Duris

As Customer Experience overtakes product and price as the key differentiator for many brands, it’s increasingly important that all parts of the organization work together to deliver seamless communications and service.

Our Director of Marketing Chen Barnea sat down with Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience for M4 Communications and a leading CX strategist, to discuss the evolution and importance of CX for B2B and B2C companies across verticals. While their chat covered a lot of ground, we’ve highlighted some of the key points below.

Investing in CX pays off. This is especially true if you’re a leader. According to a Temkin report, CX Leaders see a 17% compound average growth rate, versus 3% for laggards. Customers that receive a great experience are likely to purchase again, and 11 times more likely to recommend a product or brand.

Consistency is key, especially for retail. But it’s also very important for B2B organizations too, especially those with a long sales cycle. Both kinds of organizations need to have a C-suite that is championing that vision of the customer experience and explaining why it’s so important to rally behind it, and how everyone fits in. Without that commitment, alignment, ownership, Customer Experience initiatives just won’t work.

CX is not a shiny new toy. You need to have a strategy and purpose for tackling CX. It can’t be done piecemeal, either, with the Contact Center pioneering an initiative, but then the experience dropping off once a customer contacts Sales or Marketing. Inconsistency is one of your greatest enemies to a great experience.

Don’t neglect the employee experience. Engaging your employees and communicating what your experience should look and feel like is crucial. They’re the ones who are making that experience a reality. It takes more than just surveys. You need to speak to your employees in person and get qualitative insight, backed up by hard metrics. Once you can take those insights, build them back into your experience, optimize your CX, then look for insights again, you can create a closed loop of constantly improving experience.

There are three kinds of metrics. Metrics based on perception, description, and outcome. Perception-based metrics are about your experience and how your customer understands it. They include metrics such as NPS, CES, and satisfaction. Description metrics are based on observable events, like FCR and AHT, and ensure you’re being efficient and effective. And outcome metrics are things like how many customers renewed their contracts or upgraded their package. Bottom line: you need all kinds of metrics to cover the entire scope of experience.

Experience is a mindset. It’s more than just a strategy or process. It’s who you are as a company, and as individuals. Customer centricity needs to start before a prospect even knows about you—it’s in your bones, your culture, and it’s how you truly create consistency. Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value is the goal of any CX effort, and the only way to do that is to have a mindset where you’re putting your customers first.

Start small. If you haven’t invested in CX at all, you can always begin by sending out an NPS survey and segmenting customers based on that score. From there, you can work in more complex layers of metrics and build up your understanding.

This is just a taste of the wide-ranging discussion on the podcast, so if this sounds relevant to your needs, be sure to have a listen.

To learn more about how Kustomer can help you deliver a more consistent and effective experience, request a demo with the form below!

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:

Kustomer Localization is made for Global Teams

Many customer service teams today have to support a global customer base. Kustomer has launched Localization, a suite of features that allow you to easily detect, respond, and provide help to a multilingual customer base. Customers and support teams deserve an seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel.

Whether you service customers around the world, or have a team that communicates in multiple languages, our localization features will help you provide personalized customer support. We focused on developing features that make teams more efficient as well as automating tedious tasks associated with providing multilingual support.

Automating Language Detection

 

When your customers contact you, Kustomer is now able to automatically detect the language of the message using Amazon Comprehend dominant language detection. Oftentimes a new message will require your team to have to identify the language, and then assign it to another team or agent. This manual triaging by language is time consuming and ineffective. Automating the language detection for inbound messages allows you to route conversations to the correct team or agent, providing quick reply times. When language detection is enabled, you’ll also be able to get sentiment analysis in multiple languages, helping you to better understand your customer. Language detection will allow agents to work more efficiently by automatically sending messages and displaying Knowledge Base articles in the customer’s’ own language.

Making Translation Easy

We focused on making processes as time-efficient as possible. One of the Localization features that enables this is Snippets. Teams can easily insert translated content into messages, email templates, and Knowledge Base articles. Let’s say you want to provide your agents with an automatic response to questions about returns. You can quickly create a snippet for “return policy” with corresponding translations for languages you want to support. Then, when your agent uses a shortcut with the “return policy” Snippet, it’s automatically translated based on the customer’s language. Adding in personalization is easy too, just combine Snippets, Shortcuts, and Dynamic text and your agent is fully empowered to provide quick personalized support in the correct language.

Enabling Agent Adoption

It’s not just your customers that are global. Many support teams are based all over the world, and it’s important that users can access and use Kustomer in their native language. Unlike other tools where translations are limited to certain features and interfaces, in Kustomer you’ll have full access to language translations across all our features and the user interface. The user interface can be used in over 51 languages (both Right to Left and Left to Right). See a list of all available languages in Kustomer.

For more information about Localization and its included features, check out this article.

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