You Must Know Consumer Expectations to Deliver on Their Demands. We’ve Got the Data.

You Must Know Consumer Expectations to Deliver on Their Demands. We’ve Got the Data. TW

Every consumer has a different expectation as to how they believe they should be treated by organizations they do business with. Perhaps I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for a full refund and an apology when I feel I’ve been wronged, whereas you wouldn’t be caught dead being so demanding.

But while we all have our minute differences, it is also true that consumer expectations generally shift with the times, and have clear generational differences. This past year has brought a significant amount of changes, and businesses may feel more in the dark about what their consumers are demanding. We wanted to pull back that curtain.

Kustomer surveyed over 550 US-based consumers to better understand what they expect from the customer experience, where organizations are falling short, and how expectations have shifted across generations. According to our research, 79% of consumers say customer service is extremely important when deciding where to shop, and many consumers are more picky with where they spend their money than ever before. Read on for the findings from our research, and for strategies to deliver on consumers’ growing demands. You can download the full report here.

We Must Treat Customers as Humans

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that empathy is of the utmost importance when dealing with customers. As the world has drastically changed, and individuals feel more stress and anxiety than ever before, the potential to brighten someone’s day with a simple support interaction is hugely impactful.

According to our survey, 69% of consumers expect an organization to prioritize their problem if they are upset. Through a combination of sentiment analysis and intelligent routing, your customer service platform should be able to move upset or loyal customers to the front of the line and immediately get them help from the most appropriate agent.

Additionally, 53% of consumers expect a business to know about them and personalize how they interact. To create these meaningful relationships, companies need to adopt technology that allows them to see customer history, issues and behavior in context, no matter the platform. According to Amy Coleman, Director of CX at Lulus.com, the humanity of customer service is often lost in call center environments. “I think that one of the downfalls to old school ticketing systems is that it’s no longer about people. It almost becomes like data entry for those agents that are working on the same thing. It’s how many tickets there are,” said Coleman. “We were never thinking of it in terms of the human beings that are on the receiving end. And I think that’s what Kustomer has really done for us, it’s allowed us to spend the time with the human beings that are on the other line and spend more time developing our team.”

One thing is clear across the board: consumers expect retailers to know how they’ve interacted in the past, what issues they’ve encountered, and they want organizations to actively make amends. A whopping 76% of consumers expect companies to proactively follow-up and reach out to them if there is a problem. Whether it is a winter storm delaying a shipment, a new safety policy, or a fulfillment issue, proactive outreach is not only a nice benefit, it is now an expectation. Proactive communication can provide even more value when you use it for actions like reengaging unhappy or complacent customers, and building brand loyalty with targeted offers. Make sure your platform can power bulk messaging, targeting specific customer segments based on your unique data, like orders, location, or CSAT. In no time your customer service team will turn from a cost center into a profit center.

The Need for Speed in CX

We’ve all been there. Too much to do, too little time. This turn of phrase is even more pertinent for customer service organizations. Delivering real-time service is inherently difficult without endless resources, especially during peak shopping periods. But it is truly what your customers expect.

Seventy-one percent of consumers believe their problem should be solved immediately upon contacting customer service, but 52% report that they’ve experienced hold times longer than fifteen minutes. That’s a massive amount of consumers whose expectations are not being met.

Luckily, thanks to automation and artificial intelligence (AI), businesses now have the opportunity to provide more self-service options, freeing up agent time for complex and proactive support. In fact, 53% of consumers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative, meaning AI-powered experiences fulfill their needs. Tools like chatbots are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, with 53% of consumers saying that chatbots improve the customer experience. They can be used to collect initial information, answer simple questions, and direct customers to a help center if human intervention is not needed.

These tools save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low level support. Additionally, 42% of consumers reported that they would be willing to buy a product or service from a chatbot. This transforms AI-powered chatbots from a deflection tool into a revenue generator, with the ability to suggest similar products, or answer questions consumers need clarification on before buying.

To read the full report, including industry and demographic data, click here.

 

4 Key Takeaways From #MakeTheSwitch Week

4 Key Takeaways From #MakeTheSwitch Week TW

In case you missed it, last week Kustomer hosted a series of events all around switching from traditional ticketing systems to a modern CRM for customer service. The week was action-packed, filled to the brim with insights from Kustomer executives and customer-centric brands like Lulus and Ritual.

It’s not too late to gather insights from the week. Below you can find four key takeaways from #MakeTheSwitch week, and what they mean for your brand.

1. Treat Customers Like Humans, Not Tickets

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. To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and helps them deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service.

Amy Coleman, Director of CX at Lulus.com, thinks that the humanity of customer service is often lost in call center environments. “I think that one of the downfalls to old school ticketing systems is that it’s no longer about people. It almost becomes like data entry for those agents that are working on the same thing. It’s how many tickets there are,” said Coleman during a Thursday afternoon webinar. “We were never thinking in terms of the human beings that are on the receiving end. And I think that’s what Kustomer has really done for us, it’s allowed us to spend the time with the human beings that are on the other line and spend more time developing our team.”

Eric Choi, Community Support Manager at Zwift, said during a Friday afternoon LinkedIn Live that he made the switch to Kustomer because his team was looking for a platform that was more human, and allowed them to interact with their members in a more organic way. “The old ticketing system made me feel… like a deli counter. You pull a ticket, you get answered, you throw the ticket away and then you move on.”

When all customer information is available at the click of a button, agents are able to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.

2. Unlock the Power of Data Through a Customer Service CRM

As Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum said in his Tuesday afternoon LinkedIn Live, an effective CRM should allow you to fully understand the relationship that your business has with each and every customer, and leverage data in order to do that. Legacy CRMs were built to manage cases, not customers. And you shouldn’t have to pay more for operational solutions AND modern communication tools in order to provide effective support.

Coleman agrees that e-commerce companies “absolutely have to be able to access data around what your customers are contacting you” about. Before making the switch to Kustomer, Lulus didn’t have any data because their platforms weren’t talking to each other, and that was a big issue. A modern customer service CRM should be designed to connect seamlessly with your other data sources and business intelligence tools, while taking the place of your support platform, contact center routing software, and process management solution.

3. Cut Down on Tickets With an Omnichannel Approach

In a multichannel support environment, each channel lives in its own silo with its own dedicated team of agents, with limited communication or sharing of information between channels. 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.

After switching to Kustomer, Coleman truly realized how many omnichannel conversations were taking place within Lulus’ customer base. With a truly omnichannel customer service CRM, Lulus “ended up merging or cutting [their] tickets down significantly.” Agent collision never occurs when communication channels are integrated, because agents can view the conversation and maintain context even as customers engage through multiple channels.

Michelle McCombs, Vice President of Safety and Support at HopSkipDrive, has now structured her team so they are all omnichannel. With Kustomer’s timeline view, and intelligent queues and routing, her team doesn’t have to go and find what they need to do next. All of her agents “live right there in their one space and… and get to work.”

4. Make the Agent Experience Effortless and Fulfilling

Ultimately, agent happiness directly translates to customer happiness. The more information that agents have at their fingertips, and the more they are able to focus on quality instead of quantity, the happier they will be, and the happier they will make your customer base.

Andrew Rickards, Director of Customer Experience at Ritual, has experienced this first hand. “It goes without saying customer service can be a thankless job and even … the best spirited individual can find those tougher days. So for me, it’s looking at the agent’s experience and understanding what the points of friction are and removing them, so what is already a tough job doesn’t have to be any tougher,” said Rickards. “When I talk about agent happiness, if you look at the internal surveys we do, to see just how people are on a quarterly basis, a lot of the questions that would indicate day-to-day stressors…we improved on those results post-Kustomer switch.”

Coleman agrees, and sees how making the switch to a more effortless platform can impact agent development. “I do feel that we’ve had less turnover due to the fact that the platform is easier, to the point where we’ve been able to actually focus our leadership on actual leading instead of micro managing,” says Coleman. “And what I feel is the most honorable and noble career, which is the service of helping other people, it gets lost in the abyss of really complicated workflows. And so Kustomer has given us, has given me as a leader, so much value, because I’m actually able to lead people for who they are based on their individual strengths and opportunities.”

Click here to learn more about how making the switch could be a gamechanger for your team.

 

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

Finger on iPhone

Although many companies bill themselves as purveyors of exceptional, personalized 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 problem 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 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.

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.

Let’s take a look at what defines personalized customer service, the benefits of personalization, how you can provide a more personalized customer service experience and the role omnichannel plays.

What is Personalized Customer Service?

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.

Artificial Intelligence magazine defines personalized customer service as the service provided by an agent that caters precisely to what the customer is looking for. This enables the consumer to gain a connection to your company and feel confident that you have a tailor-made solution that leaves them feeling satisfied after the interaction.

The Omnichannel Approach

In today’s hyper-connected world, you can’t simply think like the customer, you must communicate like them too, and be channel agnostic.
People today connect asynchronously. They have no allegiance to any 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 co-workers 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. You heard that right—10. By giving customers an omnichannel approach, you increase the chances of reaching them and making it easier for them to reach you.

Benefits of Providing Personalized Customer Service

Delivering top-notch customer service is of the utmost importance. Doing so in a personalized manner, via the combination of human interaction and automation, can bring success to your business in more ways than one. Some of the benefits of providing personalized customer support include:

  • Repeat business
  • Enhanced customer loyalty
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • More meaningful conversations that help you improve your strategy

Learn more about how personalizing the customer experience can enhance your business in our personalization how-to guide.

How to Personalize the Customer Experience

Quality customer service is an ambitious tactic. In fact, according to research from Dimension Data, 81% of organizations believe that customer service is a major competitive differentiator. By personalizing the customer experience, more companies can enhance the quality of service they are providing and get a leg up on the competition.

Achieving personalized customer service can be achieved in three important steps:

1. Get to Know Your Customer.
If your business utilizes a platform that has access to all customer information in a single view during the interaction, customer service agents have the context they need to provide personalized experiences This cohesion allows agents to deliver quality, personalized service, and the ability to solve a customer’s problem in a timely manner.

2. Always Meet Customers Where They Are.
When it comes to increasing customer satisfaction and solving issues simultaneously, companies need to incorporate an omnichannel approach. When customer service agents can meet customers wherever they are, whenever they need assistance and not lose context as customers switch channels, they’ll be able to solve issues quickly, efficiently and personally.

3. Use Artificial Intelligence to Your Advantage.
Companies that are ready and willing to thrive in the digital age understand the value that comes with automation. Using resources like chatbots allows technology to take care of the analytical and manual work, giving agents more time and flexibility to handle complex tasks and issues presented by customers. Not only does this free up human resources, but it also enables your customer service team to build stronger connections with customers, building strong customer loyalty.

How Kustomer Enables Omnichannel Customer Service

For too many brands, the need to keep up with the growing number of channels has meant adding solutions at the expense of 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 from one channel to the next as needed during a conversation while seamlessly 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.

To learn more about Kustomer’s omnichannel approach, get the Guide to Delivering True Omnichannel Support.

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

woman on phone sitting on steps

A common saying states that perception is reality. Regardless of its validity, perception is widely accepted, and it can have significant consequences on either an individual or an organization’s reputation and credibility.

Organizations face this challenge every day: how to deliver the best possible product while also winning trust through superb service. Customer sentiment analysis helps provide valuable insight into the mind of the customer and it empowers agents with data that allows them to go above and beyond, while also providing customers with an experience that promotes not only satisfaction, but also encourages loyalty.

Even a superior product can fall victim to upset customers — according to an Accenture Strategy Research Report, 47% of consumers admit they won’t even engage with a brand after being disappointed. Today’s complex, omnichannel environment makes these stakes even higher, which is why accurate customer sentiment analysis is vital in today’s fast-paced world.

What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?

KM World defines customer sentiment analysis as the processing of information to determine the opinion of a consumer. The time consumers take to ask questions, resolve issues, and share both positive and negative experiences can be used to help an organization evolve.

It’s important to understand that the way this information is gathered has changed drastically in the last two decades. What was once handled by either a letter or phone call to a company has now evolved into a multi-layered approach that can feel dizzying for an organization seeking to keep pace.

To deliver the most empathetic customer service experience, an organization must understand customer sentiment across all channels. Let’s take a closer look at sentiment scoring, what’s considered a positive sentiment, and three solid reasons customer sentiment analysis is a must for your organization.

What is a Sentiment Score?

According to CallMiner, a sentiment score is the number used to gauge customers’ opinions of a company’s service and products. A positive sentiment score indicates exactly what it describes — customers are satisfied with their experience with the company’s offerings and will likely continue to go about business as usual — and as such, a negative score explains the opposite. Both types of sentiment scoring are important, as they can help a company understand where they need to improve and where they can continue following business protocol.

3 Reasons You Need Customer Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis gives you an increasingly accurate temperature check on how your customers feel about your brand, your products and the service you provide. For agents to turn this data into insights, however, they must be able to easily access this type of customer information.

Here are three reasons why customer sentiment analysis is ideal for driving customer loyalty:

1. Customer Service Agents Become Advocates

Every time a customer reaches an agent, that agent should, at a minimum, be empowered with all the information needed to provide a seamless experience. From purchase information, shipping information, and return requests, to an accumulation of all internal communications that have occurred, agents should have all the customer details available to them in order to provide the best possible service. But this isn’t always possible without the right technology.

When armed with sentiment analysis, the agent is properly prepared to connect and empathize with the customer on the aspects of either the service or the product that felt frustrating. This type of communication serves to both personalize the experience while also helping to neutralize potentially difficult conversations.

To provide the modern experience customers expect, organizations can’t afford for their agents to have any information gaps. According to Calabrio, 60% of customer service agents feel that they don’t have the tools or technology needed to handle customer issues, and 34% cite a lack of pertinent customer data as their biggest problem. With the right resources in place, companies can properly identify negative and positive sentiment scores and translate the insights into providing an improved customer experience across the board.

2. It Has a Major Influence on the Future of Your Business

When it comes to both acquiring and retaining customers, brands must pursue the new rules of engagement. According to Social Media Today, 70% of consumers have admitted that they turned to the social media accounts of brands for customer service reasons on one occasion or more. Utilizing social media channels is one of the most advantageous moves a brand can make today.

Customer interactions, whether indicating negative or positive sentiment, can be used to benefit the company. This data can be used to get ahead of issues, inform internal product teams of concerns or problems and influence both new customers and loyal ones. Data can reveal how an individual consumer is feeling, and it can also reveal areas in your product or policies that need improvement.

3. Customer Experience Gaps Vanish (With Holistic Measurement)

Unfortunately, many organizations look at sentiment based on the channel: e-mail, phone, chatbot/live chat, social and others, and that means all the data collected is siloed. The result of siloed data needing to be measured and analyzed together is an analyst somewhere banging their heads against a wall trying to fit a square peg through a round hole.

In other words, siloed data can be analyzed together, but it will usually be inconsistent and incomplete, with gaps that don’t cover the holistic customer experience. When attempting to make sense of the entire customer journey from initial awareness through to repeat purchases, organizations must consider a holistic way of collecting the data to be analyzed more accurately. A customer service CRM platform, that unifies all data into a single view, can help businesses garner insights from cross-channel data.

How Kustomer can help

Understanding how your customers feel can be a useful tool for your business. The organization that achieves a comprehensive, holistic and actionable view of their customer, and leverages customer sentiment analysis to understand how consumers are feeling, can create empathetic experiences that boost loyalty, retention and repeat sales.

Kustomer’s Sentiment Engine specifically achieves this. It’s driven by AWS Amazon Comprehend, and through natural language processing APIs, the Kustomer platform can analyze all incoming text from the customer, no matter the channel. You’ll always know how they feel, and be prepared to deliver exceptional service in customers’ greatest times of need.

If you’re ready to transform your organization’s customer service into one that drives loyalty in the modern age, click here for three ways to get started.

 

How Automation and AI Can Help Your Business Succeed in Customer Service

Why AI and Automation are a Man’s Best Friend Twitter

We all know that customer experience is becoming more important than price and product when it comes to loyalty. And the businesses who prioritize customer experience are the ones that are succeeding. The question becomes, when that awesome customer experience begins to pay off, how can you continue to execute on a high level of service without hiring an army of people, or sacrificing the human touch? AI and automation can help you scale.

How Exactly Does Automation In Customer Service Help?

Automation in customer service reduces menial work for agents and can prevent human error from happening. This reduction in friction also gives your agents much more room to provide personalized service to your customers.

AI can help solve a core problem when your organization experiences hyper growth and your customers need answers to their problems quickly. It is possible to grow your business without losing the human touch. In fact, it’s essential not to lose this. Businesses that prioritize a personalized customer experience are the ones that are succeeding in this fast-paced environment. Although it might sound counter-intuitive, by introducing automation into some of your core systems and processes, you can actually provide an even more personalized touch within your customer service department.

Automation Helps Reduce Repetitive Tasks for Your Agents

Many folks still think of AI as a threat to their jobs….as robots taking over the world! Despite the doomsday rhetoric, the fact is that current day AI can actually make customer service professionals’ jobs less time consuming and simultaneously more fulfilling.

Oftentimes the most tedious tasks on an agent’s plate are manual and repetitive, and may not require human intervention. Luckily AI can automate much of this work. For example, when an agent needs to initiate a return, they may be talking to a customer in one system, looking up a customer’s order history in another, and using a third system to create a return management authorization (RMA). A fourth system may send a message to the person who handles those returns asking to expedite for an important customer. With AI and automation, a single button click could start the RMA process, create the shipping label and notify a team to expedite.

Automate Common Customer Questions With the Help of AI

Businesses have the opportunity to provide more self-help opportunities with the help of AI. Chatbots are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers because they can quickly answer common questions without the need for a live representative to be on the chat. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right data, businesses can actually do the opposite.

For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support. When you have AI in customer service, you provide a more relevant customer experience and buyer experience to your clients.

Superpower Your Agents

Beyond freeing up agent time, AI can also be used to arm support agents with all the information they need to quickly and accurately service their customers. AI support technology can suggest messages to send to customers based off of historical conversations and customer attributes, which can become more accurate and personalized over time in conjunction with a machine learning model.

You can also power sentiment analysis with AI technology, which means you can analyze the tone in the customer’s messages, and determine whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied. If you have a dissatisfied customer, you can escalate the issue quickly and give a more hands-on approach to save the customer relationship.

How We Can Help

Customer service is increasingly being thought of as a revenue driver and not a cost center, and customer service insights are being leveraged to inform larger business decisions. Keeping a consistently high level of support as you scale your business could be the difference between rocketship growth vs. staying stagnant. Automation in customer service gives you the exact tools you need to keep your customers happy without sacrificing quality as you grow rapidly.

Finding the perfect customer service software solution is imperative. If you’re interested in delivering a superior customer experience at scale, whether that means personalized and proactive support or true omnichannel experiences, consider Kustomer to be your right-hand man. With Kustomer’s unique customer service CRM platform, businesses are easily able to have a single view of the customer journey, seamless omnichannel communications, and the ability to automate complex business processes and knowledge management.

Download our Scalability Guide to learn more, or reach out and get to know us through a free demo.

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3 Keys to Modernizing Customer Engagement

3 Keys to Modernizing the Customer Experience Twitter

Modern customer service looks very different from prior decades. Customers gravitate toward brands that have differentiated customer service, leaving those that don’t in the dust. With this in mind, brands are beginning to realize that customer service is directly tied to their revenue, and are modernizing applications.

How Can You Provide Differentiated Customer Service?

According to a 2016 study by Forrester, superior modern customer service drives superior revenue growth in industries where customers can easily switch to competitors that deliver a differentiated customer experience. Since then, 81% of organizations cite CX as a competitive differentiator and research continues to support the notion that more organizations are leveraging differentiated customer experience to gain an edge against their competition. By ignoring customer service, brands are missing out on market share and revenue.

In this blog post, we share three ideas and concepts that will help you with modernizing customer engagement and transform your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center.

Take a True Omnichannel (NOT Multichannel) Approach to Modern Customer Experience

Many believe that the concept of omnichannel dates back to 2003, when Best Buy created a strategy that centered around the customer in order to compete with Walmart’s electronics department. At this time, retailers were starting to see online sales grow at a fast pace, especially for items that didn’t require you to touch them to feel confident in a purchase decision, such as electronics. All that was needed when it came to shopping for consumer electronics were specifications and dimensions of the products. Best Buy knew that since they could not compete with Walmart’s low prices, they would have to take another approach, one that focused on the customer experience both in-store and online, while providing superior post-sales support. This is where the concept of “customer centricity” was born, which is at the core of an omnichannel approach to modernizing customer engagement.

So what does a true customer-centric omnichannel approach look like in 2021? Let’s start by first explaining the concept of multichannel, which is often mislabeled as omnichannel.

In the diagram above, we have the typical multichannel model of customer engagement, where the customer reaches out through the channels of their choice. Each individual engagement becomes a “ticket” or “case” within the contact center, with different customer support agents tackling each issue. This creates three main problems:

1. Each agent fails to recognize that their colleagues are working on the same issue, which in turn becomes an unnecessary expenditure of resources for the company.
2. The customer experiences inconsistencies with how their issue is solved, as each agent may have their own way of wording or solving the issue.
3. Unless the agents recognize that these tickets are from the same customer and take steps to merge them, reporting will be skewed, as there may be different response times, resolutions and CSAT scores for each ticket.

Now let’s take a look at what a true omnichannel customer engagement model looks like:

In this model, we are still meeting customers when and where they want to be engaged, yet on the back-end there is one major difference: each individual engagement shows up as one conversation for a single agent to respond to. This sole difference alleviates the three problems outlined above and demonstrates a great example of modern customer experience.

So how does a true omnichannel approach help turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center? According to Aberdeen Group, companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies. Similarly, strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies. This emphasizes why modernizing customer engagement is so important.

Ensure Differentiated Customer Experience by Appealing to Your Customers’ Emotions

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, economist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, introduced the idea of a dichotomy between two modes or systems of thought. “System 1” is fast, instinctive, unconscious, automatic and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, calculated and logical. In these modes of thought, “System 1” dominates “System 2”, as it takes much less effort, making it the default system.

If you have ever worked in customer support, you will quickly notice that some customers may be disrespectful and downright nasty. But it’s important to note that none of these outbursts are personal attacks and are oftentimes the expression of frustration when it comes to solving their problems. This is an example of “System 1” thinking and the impact of this “System 1” thinking from your customers is a powerful double-edged sword. The reward or punishment for solving their issue is magnified by social media and online reviews, which are of critical importance in modern customer service. As Spiegel Research Center finds, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. Each interaction will either create brand advocates for your company that will help bring in more revenue, or brand detractors that will bring negative financial repercussions. That being said, we can create more brand advocates if we meet customer expectations by implementing digital transformation strategies and modernizing customer engagement.

This begs the question: what does the modern day customer expect in their customer journey? In today’s world of modern customer service, customers expect their problems to be resolved quickly, effortlessly and empathetically. Essentially, they want to talk to an agent that is a “System 2” thinker. Being able to provide top-notch, modern customer service allows your company to achieve the ideal level of differentiated customer service.

As a leader in your organization, it is imperative to set up an infrastructure that is designed to take into account the emotional component of the customer experience within the customer journey. Fortunately, modern day artificial intelligence (AI) methods such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), predictive analytics, deep learning, and multi-dimensional neural network mappings can be leveraged. These sophisticated technologies allow for functionalities such as customer sentiment analysis and automatic language detection.

By considering how your customers are feeling throughout their customer communications, your organization can take appropriate action to ensure they leave the interaction happy and on their way to becoming brand advocates. That is why the customer journey is so crucial. A positive experience helps ensure customer satisfaction, and inevitably, customer loyalty. With all the tools available today, there is no reason why modernizing customer engagement shouldn’t be easy and effective.

Streamline and Automate Customer Experience Business Processes

In a traditional CX technology ecosystem, customer data is siloed. Each individual system may require manual updates as agents work through each ticket or case. Reports will need to be pulled from separate systems in an attempt to get a 360 degree view of the CX organization. In this ecosystem of siloed customer data, we are not only pulling agents away from being in front of customers by requiring manual data entry, we are also compromising the integrity of our reporting and visibility into the CX organization. Ultimately, this is hindering our ability to be agile and adjust to changing customer expectations.

The solution to these problems caused by fragmentation is to consolidate your customer data into a modern customer experience platform that is capable of taking all of your customer data and making it viewable, searchable, actionable and reportable. Notice we are not talking about a helpdesk product, but rather a next-generation platform for customer experience, support and service. A unified CX platform can make modernizing customer experience simple and streamlined.

With all customer data under one roof, business process automations can be leveraged to their full potential. Automations are no longer limited within each individual silo, but instead can impact the entire CX ecosystem.

As businesses are seeing a bigger impact on their revenue directly from customer experience, CX leaders need to ensure that their technology is up-to-date in order to stay competitive. The days of customers tolerating poor experience are over. Think about it—your closest competitor is just a 15-second google search away. As they should, customers expect more from us. Fortunately technology exists today to aid in modernizing customer engagement, build more brand advocates, and ultimately turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center. It’s time to take a good look at your organization and ask the tough question: is my CX organization built to deliver a modern day customer experience that will turn brand detractors into brand advocates?

Want to learn how your CX organization stacks up against the competition? Take our interactive CX Assessment: Take the Assessment

 

How DTC Brands Deliver Standout, Personalized Online Experiences

How DTC Brands Deliver Standout, Personalized Online Experiences Twitter

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses are upending entire industries and putting customers first. By cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the consumer, rather than through a retailer or third party, DTC businesses are exploring new ways to reach consumers with amazing and transformative customer experiences. But how do they do it?

Know the Customer History

Imagine having a conversation with a friend, but not being able to remember anything about that friend, or any interactions you’ve ever had with them previously. It would be difficult to have a truly personal or meaningful conversation. That’s how traditional retailers have historically interacted with consumers, with a large blind spot around customers’ preferences and behaviors.

Digital-first brands don’t have to deal with this problem. Every aspect of the online journey can be adjusted to meet customer needs, and with the right technology can be available to staff in a single view. You’ll be able to know a customer’s preferences, buying history, sentiment, previous interactions with the brand, status of their orders, even their preferred channels of communication. You’ll no longer be interacting with Customer #45634, but with a valued human being who feels heard and appreciated.

In-Action With Glossier

Hyper-popular beauty and skincare provider Glossier makes buying their products as intuitive and personal as possible. To replace the experience of trying on makeup at a counter in a department store, Glossier creates an immersive, digital journey. Customers can get a personal consultation from a member of the gTeam, who is prepared to provide all the support they might need over the channel of their choice, and has all the necessary context and information about their shopping history.

Solving for Decision Paralysis

The spread of e-commerce has created a paradox. In the heyday of big box stores, a huge selection of products and styles used to add value. Customers did most of their shopping in a physical space, as it was still faster, cheaper, and more accessible than shopping online. A large number of stores and a wide selection meant customers were more likely to shop and find what they were looking for. However, the near-infinite amount of choices provided by Amazon and other big box stores and marketplaces has flipped this notion on its head.

Now, customers are overwhelmed with choices. If you search the word “soap” on Amazon, you get over 60,000 results. Picking a simple product becomes paralyzing as you try to weigh price, benefits, ingredients, and other factors all at once. And having your product feedback heard or incorporated can feel hopeless.

Products Customers Want and Need

Focusing on a few good items done right, at a fair price point, is key to tapping into modern shopping trends, and encourages brand loyalty and repeat business by making products that become an essential part of customers’ lives.

Some high growth DTC brands, such as hair care company Prose and dog food company The Farmer’s Dog, even incorporate customer feedback into their product. Through proactively seeking feedback from customers, these leading brands ensure that both their products and service are exceptional, and they keep their customers coming back time and time again.

Additionally, DTC brands are able to use customer data to inform business decisions. If you document why customers are reaching out, you can use this information to optimize UX, make product or fulfillment tweaks, or even open a new store location.

Want to learn more about how high-growth DTC brands are standing out from the competition through CX? Download the guide here.

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How to Keep Customers Smiling This Valentine’s Day

How to Keep Customers Smiling This Valentine’s Day Twitter

It’s a day of love, romance and positive feelings…. that is until white lilies are delivered instead of red roses, or a winter snow storm causes a shipping delay for that diamond necklace she’s been waiting for.

During peak shopping days, like Valentine’s Day, customer loyalty is on the line. A mistake not only means an angry customer, but could mean embarrassment and conflict due to a missing or incorrect present. The way that companies handle service inquiries during these seasonal rushes is of the utmost importance. They must treat customers with empathy, and understand that problems and questions can hold a lot more weight during stressful holidays.

The National Retail Federation reports that $27.4 billion is going to be spent this Valentine’s Day, a whopping 32% increase from last year. So follow these tips to avoid getting caught in cupid’s crossfire.

Prepare for Scale

If you’re a retailer that caters to romance, like florists and jewelers, prepare for an uptick in orders and inquiries. Your apps and websites should be able to handle an increased load, and you should have staff in place to handle the spike in customers reaching out. By leveraging technology that incorporates AI and automation, low level support tasks like business hours and shipping information, can be deflected away from your agents, freeing up their time to tackle more difficult inquiries and making sure Valentine’s Day goes off without a hitch.

Deliver On Instantaneous Conversations

As much as we all wish our significant other was planning a lavish evening months in advance, the truth of the matter is that last minute gift buying is… the norm. Customers will likely be ordering flowers or chocolates mere hours before they want them to be delivered. Make sure you’re able to manage real-time fulfillment, as well as real-time conversations.

In order to deliver truly instantaneous support, agents must be able to have the full context of every customer interaction at their fingertips, no matter the channel or issue. Did the customer just receive their order? What is the sentiment of their interaction? Did they just have a conversation about the same issue on a different platform? Being able to see this all in one view, versus opening new tickets for every new interaction, means you’re able to serve customers quicker and build relationships faster.

Be Channel Agnostic

Your customers are on the go. No matter whether they are at work, on the train, at dinner or on their couch, you need to be available to them. Make sure that your customers are able to contact you on whatever channel they’re active on, and switch between those channels seamlessly and without losing context. When time is of the essence, your customers don’t want to have to start the conversation over again.

Communicate Seamlessly with Customers and Vendors

Marketplaces may have a particularly difficult time handling seasonal rushes. Let’s say a customer is ordering a bottle of champagne to be delivered to their partner when they get home from work. To ensure a seamless process, marketplaces will have to use a system that can enable communication with customers and vendors simultaneously to solve any issues. Traditional customer service solutions force agents to switch between multiple platforms and screens, instead of connecting conversations between customers and vendors in a single view.

Your brand doesn’t want to be the reason for a break-up. Prepare properly and deliver exceptional support, and you and your customers will live happily ever after.

Learn more in the latest customer service retail report.

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4 Ways to Achieve Customer-First Support

man on ipad

Creating and maintaining a strong customer service team is one of the most important considerations you can make for your business. In fact, a Customer Service Barometer study by American Express found that 68% of survey respondents agreed that the right representative is necessary for creating a positive experience. Of those people, 62% said that the customer service agent’s knowledge and resourcefulness are what make them a sought-out representative.

So how do these customer service representatives work to achieve the perfect customer service resume? Beyond basic skills and experience, it’s all about creating a customer-first experience.

What Is Customer-First Support?

The customer-first approach is a simple concept. It’s all about creating a personalized interaction from the moment the conversation begins until it ends. It’s about recognizing that while you may be behind a phone or computer, you’re still speaking to an actual person who is not only confiding in you with their issues, but is trusting you to provide them with the support and solutions they need. Customers want agents to interact with them just as they would engage with someone in person who can provide assistance.

While customer-first support is highly reliant on a strong customer service agent, technology plays a major supplemental role in achieving it. Taking an omnichannel approach at customer service and meeting your customer needs wherever they are is critical. The right CRM platform can ensure success in achieving customer-first support via intelligent automation so your customer service agents can provide assistance with high-level, complex issues while chatbots assist more basic and immediate needs. But remember, the customer always comes first.

4 Ways to Achieve Customer-First Support

Customer expectations have evolved past closed tickets and short resolution times. To succeed in today’s ever-changing world, brands must take a customer-first approach to service and support. Here’s how to achieve it in four simple steps.

1. Understand the Emotions of Your Customers

Do you know what percentage of your customers are happy, satisfied or disappointed? Understanding the emotional state of your customers, and adding empathy to the conversation, makes the experience more meaningful, and agents can have conversations that truly help customers.

The top difference between a good agent and a great agent is their ability to express empathy. Empathy is enabled by sensing someone’s emotions. Sentiment scores within your customer service software should give your agents:

  • Updates and reporting in real-time.
  • The ability to segment customers by sentiment data.
  • Sentiment-based workflow automations.

By pairing sentiment data with the right agent skills, it’s easier to master the skill of mirroring to make customers more comfortable. Mirroring, even if doing something as simple as using casual terms as you would with a friend, can go a long way in building a customer relationship. A customer service agent must know the appropriate tone to use to calm frustration, convey understanding of the issue, and express empathy.

2. Encourage Actual Conversations

Enabling true, personal conversations requires a mindset shift from transactional support to conversational support. 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. Agents are there to provide real value, not just to solve a problem or process a transaction. They use context and conversations to make it easy for customers to get help while allowing agents to provide more personalized service at scale.

3. Embrace Omnichannel and Break Down Silos

Meeting customers when and where they want pays off. In fact, according to a Kustomer study, 88% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer. The brands that deliver omnichannel support will win additional brand loyalty.

Don’t think it’s just “newer” channels like social media that need your attention, though.

“Your business results depend on your brand’s ability to retain and add customers,” according to Olive Huang, the research director at Gartner. “You must win at every interaction the customer has with your organization, whether that be a marketing campaign, a call to a contact center, an invoice, or a delivery reliant on the supply chain. Every department must play its part in a coordinated fashion.”

The days of isolated call centers are gone. CX leaders need to partner and collaborate with other departments to make improvements throughout the entire customer life cycle.

4. Reinvent Your CS Titles and Hiring Process

Names are powerful, and for customer service teams, names set the tone for customer interactions. An “agent” is a transactional term, ideal for reactive problem-solving. Many modern CX organizations are reinventing the names, skill sets and training of their customer service teams because of the importance of the experience to customer value.

Calling your support agents something like “Happiness Agents” would not be wise if they consistently deliver low CSAT numbers and aren’t empowered to actually generate happiness. While names set expectations, you have to make sure that you are able to execute on those expectations. That’s where the principles of a customer-first approach can deliver true value.

How Kustomer Can Help

Shifting to a customer-first support strategy allows you to achieve this, giving you a competitive advantage and a positive reputation in your industry. With Kustomer’s Guide to Achieving Customer-First Service, you can gain the knowledge and leverage needed to navigate away from outdated customer service mechanisms, learn how to hire the right people for your customer service team and understand how to create a customer feedback loop between your customer service and marketing teams for a seamless strategy.

To learn more about how to deliver customer-first support, download the full guide here.

Top 3 Trends from NRF 2020

NRF’s Big Show has just wrapped up, and after three days packed to the brim with insights from leading retailers, one thing is clear: a focus on the customer is essential in today’s competitive retail market. Whether you’re a digital-first disruptor brand or a legacy company who has transitioned into the 21st century, an exceptional customer experience drives business success. Read on to learn the top three trends we saw at NRF 2020.

Customers Take Center Stage

Brands are constantly talking about “customer obsession”. It’s a buzzy phrase, but it doesn’t quite get to the bottom of how you should be treating customers, only that you should be obsessing over them. According to Alex Genov, Manager of Research and User Experience at Zappos, “customer care” is far better than obsession. When brands really, truly care about their customers, and build a company culture that supports this care, they’re able to be leaders in their space.

And employees can truly make all the difference. Stacy Siegal, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of AEO Inc, the parent company of American Eagle, revealed that their associates were renamed “brand ambassadors”. They are empowered to be able to handle problems themselves, and advocate for the brand. In essence, everyone that works at AEO is a leader, and they are empowered to own the brand’s success. Damu McCoy, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Target, agrees with this concept. Target customers are called “guests”, and when they are looking to hire new talent they search for individuals that embody their values: guest-focused and guest-centric.

Building Deeper Connections with Consumers

The best way to build brand loyalty and advocacy is by establishing deep connections with consumers over shared values. That’s what we learned from Annie Agle, Director of Impact and Brand at Cotopaxi, and Kelly Cobb, VP of Community and Giving at Bombas. Both are successful brands that put giving back at the core of their strategy. This approach has naturally led to a “community” of customer advocates that feel as though their values are reflected in the brands they do business with, and find kinship with other customers of that brand.

Pooja Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer of Birchbox, also described how the subscription service has built a community of loyal followers over the past decade. First they identified their target audience, one that had been historically underserved. They encourage social sharing and also take pride in the fact that their employees are part of this community. It isn’t just the customer service team that is handling CS…all employees are answering questions, handling tickets and understanding customer feedback.

Additionally, transparency and feedback is essential to build these deeper connections. After a recent snafu with fulfillment, Rent the Runway vowed complete transparency to their customers and committed to do the right thing. Instead of angry customers, they actually found that this honesty and transparency fostered greater loyalty in their customer base, said CEO Jennifer Hyman. Angle of Cotopaxi agreed. Perfection is hard to achieve, and the company acknowledges its shortcomings and is open about where they want to improve.

All of these actions build trust and deep connections with a community of customers, and these customers become your advocates, not just you buyers. According to Pinterest retail strategist Amy Vener, individuals are looking towards their community for recommendations, rather than sponsored content or influencers. So the more that retail brands can build this community of loyal customer advocates, the more successful they will be.

Shopping for the Experience

In a panel with the founder of JRNI and the Senior Manager of Brand Experience and Events of Total Wine & More, it became abundantly clear that customer experience is more central than ever before for business success. While individuals used to shop out of necessity or convenience, experience is now the leading reason.

Therefore, it is hyper-important to provide the best possible experience, both in-store and online. Keith Neely, VP of E-Commerce and Digital Marketing at Case-Mate, emphasized how providing a seamless experience directly correlated with repeat customers for his business.

The most prominent example of providing a true “experience” for customers, is the new Nordstrom flagship store in New York City. CEO Erik Nordstrom explained in his keynote that stores now must be more experiential, not just a place to buy an item and leave. In the Nordstrom flagship they have a bar in the shoe department, various restaurants, and a whole floor for beauty treatments.

As Nordstrom said, customers don’t use the word “channel”. The lines are completely blurred, and they look for a singular experience no matter whether they are shopping in-store, online, on social or mobile. The customer experience should be unified, and it reigns supreme.

 

A Look Back at Customer Service During the 2019 Holiday Season

The holiday season has only just wrapped, and it was arguably the most important season for any retail customer service organization. When there are issues with holiday orders, you encounter the very real possibility of unhappy customers who are angry and embarrassed by missing or incorrect gifts. Customer expectations are at an all time high, and organization must over-deliver during their greatest times of need. Whether it’s handling simple product questions in real time, proactively alerting customers when there is an issue with their order, or rectifying any subsequent issues upon delivery, customer service during the holiday season could be the difference between a lifelong customer and one lost to the competition.

How Peak Season Customer Service Has Changed

The digital and direct-to-consumer shifts have had a huge impact on retail customer service. While customers now expect instantaneous service on a multitude of channels, they also expect personal and helpful interactions, similar to face-to-face interactions with in-store associates. In fact, according to a recent Kustomer survey, 75% of consumers aged 25-34 said they expected personalized communications from retailers. And that is 15% higher than those 65 and older, meaning personalization is becoming increasingly expected with younger generations.

2019 Holiday Season Developments

Last year there was a drastic increase in multichannel shopping (both online and in-store), and multichannel support inquiries are also on the rise. That means consumers may start an inquiry on one channel, and finish it on another. Whether the channel switch is because they are on the go, or they didn’t get a prompt response on their original channel, multichannel inquiries can cause duplicative work resulting in agent collision as well as the unfortunate need for customers to repeat information. It is important that retailers have a strong omnichannel support solution in place for any peak shopping period. A true omnichannel support solution can integrate your combination of communication channels in order to capture the free flow of conversations across channels and display the data in a single screen. This ensures seamless transitions and consistent experiences from one channel to the next.

Peak Season Challenges

The constant struggle for customer service organizations during peak shopping periods is sheer volume. With more shopping comes more support inquiries, and businesses that don’t have a scalable strategy in place, supported by the right technology, may not be able to deliver on customer expectations. Additionally, many businesses hire “seasonal employees” to help with the busy periods that they must heavily train to ensure they provide a consistent brand experience. With software that does the heavy lifting for them, providing unified customer history in a single screen and delivering standardized responses via dynamic content, the onboarding burden during an already busy time will be lessened.

Additionally, with a high volume of inquiries, customer service organizations often have trouble prioritizing the most urgent or pressing issues, and simply stick everyone in a queue, which is often unbearably long. Retailers can use AI and automation to intelligently route the most pressing issues to the most appropriate agents, or even prioritize loyal customers.

Overwhelmed customer service organizations often fall into the unfortunate habit of delivering bare minimum support in order to complete inquiries as quickly as possible. It’s important to realize that during peak shopping seasons, your customers are also stressed out, and expect retailers to deliver on their usually stellar service just as thoroughly as they would on the slowest day of the year. That means delivering real-time support, on any channel they choose, in a personalized manner.

Overcoming Peak Season Challenges

Whether it’s Cyber Monday, Valentine’s Day or Back to School season, brands should not only have a scalable strategy in place, but also technology that enables them to be more efficient and effective. AI and automation can improve the precision and speed of service by automating repetitive, manual tasks. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right platform, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, AI could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

To learn more about the results from the 2019 holiday shopping season, and how to properly prepare for future peak shopping periods, download the full report.

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4 Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Brand Through Customer Service in 2020

Have you ever ended a call with a customer service agent thinking that you’d never want to go through such a horrible experience again? You probably shared your experiences with friends and family, or went so far as posting your negative thoughts across social media.

One angry consumer not only means a lost customer, but could also mean a hit to your brand or a PR nightmare. Your customer service agents need tools that promote a positive experience for each and every customer. The following are four easy ways to strengthen your brand through customer service in 2020.

Speak with Customer in the Ways They Want to Communicate

Enabling your agents to service customers on their preferred channels, whether that be e-mail, chat, SMS, voice, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Twitter, strengthens the bond between companies and their customers. Consumers expect brands to be available on each and every channel they regularly use, but oftentimes tracking conversations and interactions across channels can be a challenge for agents. With Kustomer, conversations across channels converge into a single thread on a single screen, resulting in a seamless and effortless conversation. By breaking down the communication silos of traditional multichannel solutions that fragment service experiences, cause agent collision, and frustrate customers, Kustomer ensures a true omnichannel experience for customers and agents alike.

Reach out to Your Customers Proactively

Customers understand that problems happen all the time. Proactive communication allows companies to keep their customers updated on issues like delays in shipping, out of stock items or product updates. Customers empathize that problems arise and feel valued when kept in the loop, while inbound inquiries are reduced due to proactive outreach. Some organizations turn their CX organization into a revenue center by sending offers based on purchase history, deep insights or to encourage repeat purchases. With all of your data in the Kustomer platform, your customer service team can proactively communicate to deflect issues and delight customers.

Measure Your Customer Sentiment

Agents need to understand the mood of the customer before the conversation begins. Sentiment determines the direction of the conversation, which agent should handle the customer and how to handle the interaction. Customers are happy because agents can immediately empathize with their emotions. Agents are happy because they are aware of the customer’s current disposition and are trained to handle difficult interactions appropriately. Tracking customers’ sentiment helps agents decide how to best prioritize and engage in conversations, and provides management with a critical metric for overall customer service effectiveness.

Know Everything About Your Customers

Companies that develop deep insights about their customers, and leverage them appropriately to provide personalization, will improve their brand image. Tracking important customer information like birthdays, anniversaries or most recently purchased items on a customer timeline softens conversations and makes for a memorable experience. Agents can see deep insights quickly and easily and can, for instance, wish their customers a happy birthday. A personalized call can switch sentiment from potentially hostile to neutral or even positive. Kustomer connects your agents to all of your customers’ data from internal and third-party systems, providing a holistic timeline view for more productive and efficient conversations.

Strengthening your brand begins with asking tough questions. Is customer sentiment appropriate for your business? Is speaking with your customers through an omnichannel approach important? What types of customer information would you track that could impact your brand? Once these questions are answered, a platform like Kustomer could help you kickstart a successful 2020.

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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:

âś“ Being available on any channel the customer wants to use to contact the company
âś“ A customer-centric not ticket-centric approach to support
âś“ Enabling customers and agents to freely move across channels throughout a single conversation
âś“ Placing each customer in touch with the most appropriate resource as quickly as possible to ensure consistency and quality
âś“ 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.

Want to learn how your CX organization stacks up against the competition? Take our interactive CX Assessment: Take the Assessment

 

What Does the Future Hold for Contact Centers?

It’s undeniable that customer experience is only becoming more central to business success. But being thought of as an “icon” in the customer service space is challenging. A surefire way to succeed? Prepare for the future now. According to a CCW Digital survey of contact center professionals, the future of customer service is already within grasp. Read on to learn what pros in the industry think, and how to prepare for the future.

Channels of the Future

Just fifteen years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. Neither did Twitter. In five years, the landscape of customer service channels may be dramatically different. According to the CCW study, the phone will not disappear as a dominant support channel, with only 17% of respondents expecting its relevance to decline, however a digital transformation may come to fruition.

A whopping 84% of respondents believe chat and messaging bots will become more central to support functions in the next five years, showing the importance of AI to the future of customer service. But instant agent channels will also become more popular, with 81% expecting messaging to rise and 76% saying live chat will be imperative. Lastly, social media and connected devices will have a place in the future, with 68% of respondents saying social will become more important, and 60% saying connected devices are on the rise.

The Customer Service Intelligence Challenge

Did you know only 11% of consumers believe that organizations take their feedback seriously? It’s true, and it’s an issue that businesses are trying to solve.

Collecting great insights from customers is the leading contact center objective that companies want to achieve by 2025. Unfortunately, only 1% of organizations currently believe that their customer intelligence strategy is perfect. Why? Almost half (47%) of organizations have data scattered across various systems, showcasing the importance of a unified data environment to gather meaningful and actionable insights.

Other customer intelligence issues reported by businesses were: not collecting enough data (43%), not using data to personalize the experience (43%) and not doing enough to understand customer sentiment (40%). An additional 40% believe that they don’t even HAVE sufficient data to fully understand their customers.

The contact center of the future will have to leverage systems that unify data and give businesses a seamless way to analyze customer intelligence and take action on that intelligence.

Establishing Customer Service Objectives

Many of the “objectives of the future” are the ones we strive to currently measure, but may have difficulty achieving. In order of importance, customer service experts think the following will be the biggest objectives by 2025: reducing effort, consistency across touch points, proactively resolving customer needs, and collecting great insights.

These objectives highlight the importance of a true omnichannel experience, as opposed to a disjointed multichannel experience, and proactive support.

On the other hand, contact center professionals will not be prioritizing some of the traditional success metrics of days past, such as reducing call volume and reducing handle times. Instead agents will be empowered to focus on providing the best possible experience for customers, no matter how much time that interaction takes.

To read the full report, which includes a plethora of additional data, download here.

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Kustomer’s 2019 Year in Review

The final days of 2019 are drawing to a close, and that means it’s time for Kustomer’s year-end wrap up. It has been an exciting year, with much growth and development not only for Kustomer, but for the customer service space as a whole. Here are some of the most memorable highlights:

Top Customer Service Trends of 2019

The throughline of all developments in customer service this past year have stemmed from one fact: customer expectations are growing and brands are struggling to keep up. Consumers demand instantaneous communications on every channel, while simultaneously expecting personalized connections with the brands they do business with. Here is how customer service has changed as a result.

Omnichannel Not Multichannel

Just as companies finally began to feel comfortable achieving multichannel support, customers began to demand more: they now expect TRUE omnichannel support. Unfortunately, the two terms have almost become interchangeable, with many companies and technology providers conflating them. Multichannel support simply means offering customers more than one method for contacting customer service.

Omnichannel support, by comparison, shifts 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. Achieving true omnichannel support was a focus of many organizations in 2019.

The Rise of AI and ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have always been trendy buzzwords in the customer service space, but now they are actually impacting customer service. It’s predicted that the use of AI in customer service will increase by 143% by late 2020, so many organizations have spent this year implementing initial automation and preparing their organizations for change.

AI, ML and automation can enable customer service teams to work more efficiently and focus on the customers who need the most help. In 2020 and beyond, AI will largely take over the tedious tasks, while agents can help solve the harder problems, nurture customer relationships and engage in proactive outreach.

The Changing Face of the Support Agent

As a result of this increased adoption of AI and automation, the role of the support agent has also begun to shift. Customer service agents now spend more time building brand equity and customer relationships. The agent’s job is to reflect the company’s mission and values, and act as a trusted partner for customers. The changing expectations of consumers means that customers want to do business with companies they believe in, feeling as though they are a part of the brand. Customer service agents can help do just that, through both proactive and reactive support.

Customer service will continue to become more of an “escalation channel”, with agents spending less time responding to inquiries and answering simple questions, and more time tackling complex or difficult problems.

Kustomer 2019 Developments

Not only was this a huge year for the customer service space, it was also a momentous year for Kustomer as an organization. In 2019 we:

  • Raised series C, D & E funding, totaling $135M
  • Achieved company growth of 350%
  • Opened a brand new office in Durham, North Carolina

We’ve also witnessed tremendous product developments in the past year, including the official announcement of KustomerIQ, which embeds artificial intelligence and machine learning across the platform to enable companies to provide smarter, automated, and more personalized customer experiences. We launched our first EU data center in Dublin to better serve our growing international client base, and achieved SOC 2 Type I and HIPAA compliance to address our client’s regulatory requirements.

Spotlight on Events

In 2019 we held our first annual user conference, Kustomer Today, which gathered a group of leading experts in customer service for thought provoking and informative discussions. The free, all day event for Kustomer clients explored the Kustomer platform, showcased new product releases, and facilitated networking with innovators shaping the future of customer service. Kustomer’s Bosses Unite event gathered an intimate group of leading women in customer experience (CX), in a Gatsby-like atmosphere, to eat, drink, and share the successes and challenges that come with being a woman in the CX industry.

Kustomer attended industry-leading events such as the TaskUs Summit in San Francisco, where executives from the world’s most innovative and disruptive brands debated the future of customer experience, and explored the changing CX landscape. Kustomer also broke into the European market at the Call and Contact Center Expo UK, where we showcased the innovations of the Kustomer platform and met industry professionals looking to excel in the customer engagement space.

Kustomer Top Content

In case you missed it, check out some of Kustomer’s top content from the past year, where we explore consumer expectations and showcase the brands that are delivering superior customer service:

REPORT: The State of Retail Customer Service
E-BOOK: Brands Doing Customer Service Right
GUIDE: 3 Ways to Deliver Personalized Support
BLOG: Why the Kustomer Experience Matters to Abercrombie & Fitch Co
CASE STUDY: How Glovo Delivers Customer Service to Millions

 

What to Look for in a Modern Day Customer Service Software Solution

Consumer expectations are growing. In fact, 66% of consumers aged 25 to 44 believe that the customer is always right, almost 35% higher than those over 65. That means the younger generation is expecting more from the brands they choose to shop with, and companies must keep up. But how do you accomplish that?

Without endless resources, delivering seamless and personalized service, on every channel, can be an intimidating challenge. Luckily, technology can help. But just as consumer expectations have shifted rapidly, so has the way we do business. Finding a software solution that is built for the modern age is of the utmost importance.

Customer-Centric, Not Ticket-Centric

Think of it this way. Just fifteen years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. Twitter didn’t exist. And customer service software wasn’t built to accommodate the expectations and channels of today’s customers. A modern day customer service solution treats customers like people, not tickets.

Many customer service solutions on the market today are ticket-based, meaning they identify the customer as an attribute of an inbound or outbound message and build the communication around that ticket. These systems prioritize the metric of a “done ticket” over a customer relationship.

In contrast, modern day customer service solutions focus on the customer at the center of each interaction. By tying existing applications, business processes, and performance to the experience of the customer, companies are able to deliver more human interactions, as they know the full context and history of that customer and how they’ve interacted with the brand in the past.

Focusing on the customer may also inspire changes in your business beyond the changes in your CX process. Building a customer-centric mindset increases the chance of evolving your business in response to customer feedback, not theories.

What Makes a Modern Day Customer Service Platform

Holistic Customer View ✓
Every customer has a timeline unique to their history of purchases, omnichannel interactions, orders and returns – combining all internal and external data into one actionable view.

Powerful Automation ✓
AI and machine learning enhances agent productivity and assesses the needs of your customers in real time to deliver the best outcome in the shortest time.

Truly Omnichannel ✓
Agents can seamlessly switch engagement channels in real time within the same conversation, easily toggling between channels.

Understands Sentiment ✓
Know how your customers actually feel and gain actionable insights across every support channel and interaction.

Customizable To Your Business ✓
Fully actionable integrations with any existing system – internal or external. Let your customer service software match your business.

Download Kustomer’s full Buyer’s Guide to learn what you should be looking for in a customer service software solution, how to evaluate potential partners and how to measure success.

Download Buyer’s Guide


Why the Kustomer experience matters to Abercrombie & Fitch Co

For more than 125 years, our brands have shared a commitment to offering products of enduring quality and exceptional comfort, allowing our customers worldwide to express their own individuality and style. Since our founding in 1892, we have always been known for creating unique store experiences – but the rise of omnichannel retail requires meeting our customers wherever, whenever, and however they choose to engage with our brands. Increasingly, even when the customer journey finishes in a physical store, their journey often starts online.

The digital age has forever changed the retail industry and ultimately, customers’ expectations of it. Simply put, customer service has never been more important, which is why we put our customers at the center of everything we do across all our brands – Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids, Hollister Co. and Gilly Hicks by Hollister. As technology has evolved, and the shopping experience has changed to adapt to and anticipate customers’ changing preferences, we saw an opportunity to update our customer service capabilities to meet our customers’ growing needs. We were in search of a new customer service system that would deliver enhanced value for both our agents and our customers.

3 reasons Abercrombie & Fitch Co. chose Kustomer

Partnering with Kustomer helps ensure our current needs are met and gives us confidence that we are positioned to meet our customer service goals now and in the future, as their needs continue to evolve. Here are three key ways Kustomer delivers on our requirements for a new solution:

Personalized interactions

We wanted to align customer service tactics with our organizational mission of putting the customer at the center of everything we do, as well as implement more personalized experiences that would resonate with our customers.

Kustomer allows us to view each customer holistically across channels and time, giving our agents not only the supporting information they need, but also organizing order history and pertinent customer data in a single location. Additionally, we will soon be able to see the entire customer journey, from what they’ve bought, to the offers they’ve received and other products they’ve viewed. This will allow us to anticipate and adapt to a wide range of customer needs in a highly individualized manner.

Improved agent and reporting service

The comprehensive view Kustomer provides also helps simplify and streamline the agent experience. Agents can review necessary information and take appropriate action to resolve issues from a single screen. Most importantly, the entire agent experience is highly intuitive; the quick training process allows our agents to easily get up to speed, and they are able to comfortably utilize Kustomer to its full potential.

As a result, our agents enjoy using the system, and accessing dashboards and metrics to provide management insight into our performance is easier than ever.

A flexible, adaptable platform that keeps pace with customer needs

We needed a solution to streamline and automate time-consuming workflows and business processes to help our agents do what they do best — deliver great customer service experiences.

Kustomer helps to effortlessly manage our customer needs in real time. Operational and routing changes are now more user-friendly and can be easily made in seconds using Kustomer’s queues and routing features. More importantly, Kustomer’s experience in the digital customer service landscape assures us we can continue to improve the customer experience, and that Kustomer will evolve with our business.

Becoming a customer service fixture amongst fads

The digital age has forever changed customer expectations. By unifying the customer experience, helping us streamline how we operate, and providing a platform for future innovation, our partnership with Kustomer has helped us implement and personalize our company’s commitment to quality into each and every customer interaction.

 

Deliver personalized, effortless customer service.

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