Much of the digital technology at our fingertips today was inconceivable 20 years ago. Some of it was even out of reach two years ago but the pandemic and its various lockdowns has catapulted its use.
In this new digital-first world, customers are increasingly interacting and communicating with businesses through their devices. What hasn’t changed though, is the meaningful relationship they want from these devices. Indeed, according to the Zendesk CX Trends Report 2022, 61% of customers report that they now have higher customer service standards than they did before the pandemic.
One of the key foundations of any meaningful relationship is listening and understanding. But many businesses today struggle with this. Despite having an endless supply of customer data, they lack actionable and personalised intelligence on their customers. This renders the customer one-dimensional, resulting in interactions based on a single question or ticket, rather than an ongoing relationship.
To lay these strong foundations for a meaningful relationship, here are the key elements to consider as part of a customer service strategy for the year ahead:
Understand your customers: Start by listening to your customers. Collect critical information about their opinions, needs, experiences and expectations via surveys and feedback. But, to truly bring a customer into focus, you also have to go beyond listening and try to understand them. Combining rich customer information, including transactional data, with market research and behaviour trends will arm your customer support teams with a full breadth of customer insight.
Act on those insights: Organising and analysing this customer data will provide invaluable insights that can then be acted upon. For example, are there consistent needs you see from customers that highlight a product development opportunity? Or, if customers who buy product A are more likely to ask about product B, there could be an opportunity to create bundle offers or bring this into marketing materials. The better the data, the better the decisions that can be made. And, ultimately, this will mean a better experience for your customers.
Make it personal: Use the insights garnered to give your customers what they want rather than what you believe they want. Today’s customers expect personalisation each and every time they reach out, or they will simply stop engaging with firms that don’t match their expectations. As highlighted in Zendesk’s 2022 CX Trends Report, over 90% of customers are likely to spend more money with companies that can offer the personalisation and streamlined experiences they’re looking for.
Build relationships via messaging: Customers expect to engage with brands at any time. They also expect to be able to reach brands using their channel of choice, from messaging services through to chat and social channels. In the past few years, the use of social messaging apps, including Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct messaging and WhatsApp, has exploded. Indeed, Facebook recently reported that its WhatsApp messaging app has one billion daily users globally, with 65 billion messages being sent every day. This equates to an extraordinary 29 million messages sent every minute.
Social messaging apps allow businesses to build up meaningful relationships with their customers. As well as offering a quick and convenient means of connecting, they also facilitate a personal interaction with customers.
These conversational experiences are now expected by most consumers, and companies are beginning to react. Our research shows that more than a third of businesses in the UK have already integrated conversational customer service capabilities. Another 37% say they’re actively on their way to making plans for conversational customer service a reality.
Use automation intelligently: Developments in AI and automation are helping direct customers to find answers themselves, without the involvement of a support agent. Indeed, 89% of customers are willing to spend more to buy from companies that offer them the chance to find answers themselves. Chatbots, for instance, have a number of advantages including the capability to offer 24/7 support, provide answers quickly, and handle a large volume of repetitive requests. This use of AI and automation also eases the burden on support agents, allowing them to focus on providing a value-adding service where it counts. This, in turn, helps build deeper, more valuable relationships with consumers.
If there is one thing the past two years has proven it’s that change can happen at lightning speed. Changing market conditions in our digital-first world require firms to be more agile but to also prioritise the need to nurture meaningful customer relationships.