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Winning the Competitive and Efficiencies Game in Marketplaces

Marketplaces are competitive, customer-oriented and present huge buying power. Given the intense competition of the space, the challenge for marketplaces is to differentiate themselves with a strong brand image that implies a superior product or service offering, curated third-party vendors and extraordinary customer service and support.

More relationships to manage

Traditional customer support models are built on dyadic relationships. Customer and Business. User and Product. With the marketplace model, things become more complicated.

Managing complex relationships with both buyer and seller adds a unique set of problems to the customer support process. Where customer support used to own the entire relationship between customer and service provider, there’s now uncertainty. There’s little control over the quality of the service provided, or the quality of the customer. Understanding both sides of the transaction becomes more difficult. The challenges of the marketplace model come from the fact that there are a lot more moving pieces involved in each transaction – and customer support teams need to be able to manage them all.

The lack of real-time contextual information

Customers of the marketplace still want personalized, conversational service, and quickly. In order for customer support reps to deliver this type of experience, they need a lot of information at their fingertips, and they need it in real-time. The consumer is no longer the only focus – they also need to be able to see the order, the delivery, the booking, the task and be able to coordinate between two or three different stakeholders to resolve issues.

Beyond the customer’s details, support reps also need to view and understand up-to-date delivery information, seller ratings, product usage, payment information, buyer and seller interactions, and many more. This information needs to be surfaced in an intelligent way so support reps can focus on connecting with customers, instead of searching for information. Unfortunately, this data is often fragmented and stored across multiple systems, making ticket resolution an entirely frustrating experience.

Multiple channels

Finally, these conversations aren’t only happening over email. The bulk of marketplace users are millennials, accessing apps like Shpock and Lyft on their smartphones. Making it easy for customers to engage with your business means opening up in-app chat, social channels and maybe even phone support, alongside the email inbox.

Customers won’t keep their questions to just one channel either. They might start with email, send a tweet when they don’t get a quick reply, and then open a chat for further clarification. If your support platform isn’t omnichannel, these conversations will be disjointed across multiple tickets, which leaves room for things to fall through the cracks.

So how do you win the competitive game?

Create a seamless shopping experience

On a marketplace, just like on any other eCommerce site, it’s essential to create a seamless shopping experience.

Say your marketplace sets up dog walkers with dog owners. If something goes wrong, your customer support team will likely get an email from the dog walker and a live chat started by the dog owner. Your service software needs to be able to connect these two conversations, along with the task (X person is going to walk X person’s dog) in order to resolve the issue. Seeing the whole picture is essential to providing a great experience for both buyer and seller.

Existing solutions don’t handle this complexity well. Buyers and sellers need to be understood as discrete entities in your service software so that you can make connections in real-time. Instead, existing customer service solutions isolate every incident message. Modern support solutions, like Kustomer, move beyond isolated incidents to build intelligent connections. When looking for a platform, look for one that gives each consumer and seller their own integrated timeline.

Marketplaces are built around relationships – and your support platform should accommodate these workflows. Ensure your agents are able to talk to a buyer and seller in parallel. Being able to connect these conversations together means that agents have full context into the transaction and resolve issues quickly. When your support platform makes intelligent connections based on the way your unique business operates, agents can switch between views and connect the dots in real-time.

Conversations, not tickets will create customer loyalty

Every human being, whether they are a buyer or seller, wants to be treated like a real person. That means receiving friendly, non-robotic support from their marketplace. Providing personalized, conversational service relies on having a full view of the customer. Whichever channel the customer contacts your business through, agents need to be able to view past history, order details and task status immediately.

Customers can feel the friction that comes with being treated like a ticket. They know that when agents ask for information they’ve already provided, and confirm details the company already has on file that they are being treated like part of a queue. Traditional help desks build a literal line between customer and business through robotic forms and ###don’t reply below this line### automated emails. Conversational customer service removes these barriers through the use of intelligent context.

Modern support platforms integrate all the data necessary for a smooth issue resolution. Each event is integrated into a timeline that contextualizes conversations. Flexibility in data architecture allows integrations to adapt to your unique business model by focussing on the relationships and connections that are important to you.

With all the necessary data at their fingertips, agents can focus on the customer and building relationships. Imagine trying to build a relationship in real life without history, and without being able to draw from your past conversations. To have a conversation, you need prior knowledge about the person in front of you. How they feel, their previous complaints and what they’ve ordered all comes together to build familiarity with your customers. Conversational support needs to be personal, human and genuine. This is only possible when the platform you’re using supports and creates connections.

Proactive engagements keep customers happy

The right customer support platform empowers marketplace teams to provide an elevated experience by surfacing relevant information at the right time. By being proactive, customer support becomes a value added service – generating repeat business by increasing customer loyalty.

Customer magic happens when they are helped before they even find the problem themselves. To deliver this type of support, modern customer solutions need to be tightly integrated with order systems and customer information. That way customer support can proactively reach out before the customer realizes there’s an issue and offers solutions.

See how Slice and SmugMug used Kustomer to create an enhanced marketplace customer experience and win the competitive game!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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