Digital Customer Service: What It Is and Why It Matters

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In the realm of customer care, there’s tried-and-true, traditional customer service, and then there’s digital customer service. While there’s certainly plenty of overlap, the latter takes a more focused perspective and is designed to support digital consumers by taking their omnichannel customer journey into consideration.

This might have you wondering, what is digital customer service, exactly? And how can digital customer care improve the overall customer experience? Read on for answers to the most common digital customer service questions, plus tips and strategies for delivering a top-notch digital customer experience (DCX), no matter where your customers are.

What Is a Digital Customer?

A digital customer is someone who uses digital channels to connect with businesses, consume branded content and make purchases. These channels include web, mobile, social and email. They can maintain a relationship with a brand without ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar establishment, but may communicate with brand representatives over live chat, email, text or the phone. Importantly, a digital customer may engage with a company across multiple channels.

What Is Digital Customer Experience?

The digital customer experience (DCX) encompasses all aspects of a customer’s interactions with a brand through digital channels, and the overall brand perception and satisfaction rate they’re left with as a result. This includes touchpoints like:

  • Visiting a website on mobile.
  • Viewing social media ads.
  • Browsing through products online.
  • Reading customer reviews.
  • Logging in to their personal account.
  • Testing out a promo code in the checkout.
  • Completing an online transaction.
  • Receiving an order confirmation email.
  • Connecting with an AI chatbot for assistance.
  • Processing a return online.
  • And every other step along the digital customer journey.

The collection of these activities and impressions, DCX, is also sometimes called digital client experience or digital consumer experience. In most cases, it can also be considered an omnichannel customer experience, given the way in which customers will approach the same brand from various channels.

As a result, another important aspect of DCX is the customer’s experience when switching between channels. For instance, when hopping from a mobile device to a laptop to take a closer look at a product saved in their shopping cart, most online shoppers wouldn’t think twice about the logistical considerations related to making that a seamless experience. But, if siloed systems require the customer to run the same search and provide the same basic information over and over again, the experience probably won’t leave a great lasting impression.

What Is Digital Customer Service?

Customer support has drastically changed over the past two decades to accommodate these somewhat elusive digital consumer behaviors and high customer expectations. Over the next few years, customer service experts predict that ensuring consistency across customer touchpoints will be a top priority for businesses.

But even today, customers look for a rich support experience that efficiently and effectively meets their needs. Simply put, digital customer service, or digital customer care, is what businesses must provide to help meet the needs of their digital customers.

But it’s not just about solving a ticket in a transactional manner; it’s part of a whole new customer engagement philosophy. The best digital customer service approach works toward building and cultivating a great relationship with customers. In this relationship, the brand treats the customer as a real person with a name and a history and a habit of hopping from one digital channel to another.

Additionally, it requires a proactive strategy wherein the business anticipates as many of its customers’ needs and expectations as possible ahead of time — and addresses these with the right infrastructure. Then, when a particular issue arises, the digital customer service team can work toward a personalized solution within an already supportive environment.

How Can Digital Customer Service Improve Your Customer Experience?

To provide successful digital customer service, brands must be able to support customer needs anytime, anywhere. And, the customer should always be able to pick up right where they left off. One-third of consumers agree that the tedious process of having to re-introduce and explain themselves to multiple agents is one of the most frustrating aspects of customer service experiences, according to Hubspot.

However, Accenture found that 91% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands that recognize them by name, remember their purchase history and provide personalized offers and product recommendations. With the right tools in place, brands can deliver the best digital customer experience possible, solve issues as they arise and even provide incentives and suggestions that are tailored to the customer’s interests and past activity. Great digital customer service promotes customer satisfaction and retention.

Moreover, exceptional service can increase customer acquisition through word-of-mouth and reviews. A study from American Express revealed that, on average, U.S. consumers will discuss a negative customer experience with 15 people but would share a good experience with 11 people. The numbers go up to 17 and 15, respectively, for millennial consumers. So, a positive DCX not only stops negative feedback from spreading like wildfire, but it also leaves favorable brand impressions with about a dozen additional consumers for each satisfied customer.

How Can You Provide Excellent Digital Customer Service?

In order to provide seamless digital customer service and a seamless DCX, you’ll need to direct your efforts toward digital customer experience management. Let’s explore a few best practices to work into your strategy.

First, take advantage of automation, AI and self-service tools that can quickly collect data and diagnose problems. When a customer need arises, these tools can allow customers to access immediate information — and potentially a quick solution. Or, they can collect the most important details and open a customer support conversation. The best tools will be able to manage or assign conversations and even deliver automated messages based on certain triggers you’ve identified, saving you time and energy to address more complex customer needs.

Next, make sure you’re set up with a system that stores and transfers customer data to support more seamless customer care. For instance, a skilled customer service agent who is prepared with the background information gathered by a chatbot can get right to work solving more complex issues. The customer service team will appear more capable and expedient when they don’t have to backtrack. Plus, customers have come to expect customer service handoffs that are as seamless as their digital browsing and buying experiences.

Finally, remember to gather customer feedback on the support and overall DCX you’re providing after each digital customer interaction. When customers have a chance to offer their opinions, they typically feel more satisfied with the interaction overall. Plus, you can use customers’ valuable feedback to improve your processes.

Does Your Digital Customer Service Strategy Deliver?

Our tools equip some of the best digital customer experience companies and most beloved brands out there. Request a Kustomer demo to find out how.

Scale-Up Your Digital Experience for Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday 2017 was the largest online shopping day in history. Consumers spent over $6.59 billion, a growth of 16.9 percent year-over-year, with $1.59 billion coming from mobile. Cyber Monday is the biggest opportunity out there for North American ecommerce companies, and your customer experience organization needs to be ready for it. This is a time when you can turn one-time shoppers into loyal, repeat customers, and that requires great CX. A seamless digital experience that still feels human will help build a bond between you and your customers that will last long after the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.

Prepare Your Agents to Deliver Incredible Service

Today, customers do most of their holiday shopping online. In 2017, shoppers planned to spend 51% of their holiday shopping budget online versus 42% in stores, Deloitte found in a survey of 4,000 consumers. While many customers line up for sales at brick-and-mortar outlets, it’s just as important that your digital experience is up-to-date during the holidays.

Step back and take a look at your experience: Increasing efficiency can depend on a lot of small fixes, but analyzing the data and finding common agent and customer sticking points are the first steps towards making a difference. Take the time to look at your digital experience as a whole before the busy season starts to ramp up. Small fixes to things like your exchange process or the information customers can access on your site will add up to big efficiencies. This can have a huge impact on the number of customers they serve, and their ability to do so.

Triage your customer requests: Your customer service agents are at the vanguard of your CX during any busy period, so they need to be hired and trained well in advance. If you can equip them more information about your customers, making it easy to access their history with the brand, they can make better recommendations and provide a memorable experience during this hectic time. You should train new or temporary agents to answer the easier questions and perform more common, routine tasks for faster resolution. Save the more complex interactions between experienced staff, or these issues will have to be elevated to them anyway, drawing out the process for agents and customers alike.

Automation with a human touch: To take out some of the pressure, automation can help whittle down the massive volume of inquiries and requests during this busy time. Chatbots are one solution brands are exploring, but you have other options. Simply updating your self-service helpdesk, providing clearer product information, or equipping agents with a tool that suggests relevant responses or knowledgebase articles to share with customers can go a long way towards cutting out the short, simple questions that pile up and distract them from bigger tasks. But you shouldn’t lean on these solutions without considering how they can be used to empower your staff. To deliver a memorable, emotionally resonant experience in the long term, you need a human touch. Use them to help customers connect to agents more quickly, and make sure that agents know everything about your customers. Automation exists to empower employees, not replace them. Any way that automation can speed up service and take busy work off of agents’ desks will pay dividends for your CX.

Have a mobile mindset: Also, keep in mind that many customers will start their journey on mobile, using it to find deals and coupons, inspiration on social, competitive prices, and to read customer reviews. According to Salesforce, mobile made up 64 percent of shopping visits during Cyber Monday. This information needs to be easy to access and find on mobile—if it’s not, your customers may end up getting answers from your competitors instead. Ideally, the same agent should be able to respond to and SMS messages, chat with the same customer on desktop, then call them on the phone on the phone and back. Mobile experience is a deciding factor at this time of year, and shouldn’t be neglected.

Be ready for anything: You should be ready for something to go wrong. The holidays will push your team and your technology to their limits. More than likely, something will give—and even if it doesn’t, your team should be prepared for it. Train for the worst-case scenario, like your site going down, or a major storm disrupting shipments. Proactive outreach can help handle some of these issues before they get out of control, allowing you to make contact with customers before they have a chance to reach out. Leading up to Cyber Monday, make a list of common customer complaints or problems, and make sure every agent knows the solution. If your agents are prepared to diffuse holiday stress and help out no matter the situation, your customers will thank you.

Cyber Monday is overwhelming for even the most prepared ecommerce brands. However, every step you take now to ready your customer experience organization now will pay back tenfold for your agents and customers alike. By the way, this year Cyber Monday is November 26th—but you already knew that, right? Mark those calendars, and start making progress towards an amazing online shopping experience for this year, and the years to come.

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