Yesterday’s businesses saw customer service and experience divisions as expensive cost centres. Today, that view is being turned on its head, with the world’s most visionary companies seeing the same centres no longer as drains, but as pivotal to future growth strategy. Firms like Uber, Airbnb, Squarespace and Open Table stay at the cutting edge of customer service because they value their CX offering, not as an add on service, but as the power force of their business proposition. They see that customer service isn’t just about transactional, timely problem resolution (although it is still built on that). They recognise that, done well, it can be a driver of relationship building experiences that create:
- Value in customers’ brand interactions (and even lives)
- Meaning behind the brand’s proposition, mission and values
- Differentiation and loyalty in a cluttered landscape
And it’s not just global leaders recognising the inherent value in creating optimal customer experiences. In our ESG CX Maturity 2021 study, 94% of brands identified as CX Champions say they are focusing on moving away from one-dimensional transactional interactions towards relationship-building conversational experiences.Tellingly, creating a great customer experience has become so important that the proportion of small and medium-sized businesses rated as Customer CX Champions or Risers in our annual CX Maturity study increased from 16% to 24% from 2019 to 2020. So more and more companies are focusing on making their experience exceptional to stand out. In fact:
- 86% of SMBs agree that CX innovation is needed to protect their business from competitors
- SMB organisations across Europe intend to increase the amount of their technical budgets dedicated to CX tools and technology by 30% over the coming year
And this strategy of investing in the development of optimal services is paying off. According to our latest CX Maturity Report on The State of CX Maturity among Midsize and Enterprise Companies of Europe CX Champions are 5.5 times more likely than those further down the customer service trajectory to have increased their per-customer spending significantly in the past six months, while SMB CX Champions are four times as likely to have increased per-customer spending.
So, how can you join the revolution and boost growth by pivoting from one-dimensional to multi-dimensional customer experiences? Working with over 160,000 brands worldwide, we’ve identified the four simplest and most lucrative places to start:
1. Increase loyalty with an omni-channel experience
In today’s ‘phygital’ retail environment of blurred digital and physical boundaries, customers are buying and using services 24/7 and expecting to engage with brands at any time. They’re also expecting to be able to reach brands using whatever platform or device works best for them, from messaging services through to chat and social channels.
So with ease being everything in great CX (89% of SMB Champions’ customers say the experience requires little effort on their part), the onus is on the business to meet customers where they want to be met. Champions do this brilliantly. Our latest study reveals that they now offer an average of 6.4 connection channels to their customers.
Popular European bike subscription service Swapfiest knows the benefit of doing this all too well. When it moved from a decentralised phone and email based customer service experience to a centralised omnichannel platform integrated with WhatsApp it turbo boosted its service. The company is recently welcoming its 100,000th customer, with a third cycling customers now opting to get in touch via WhatsApp.
2. Increase conversion rates with personalised and proactive engagement tools
Once you’re in touch with a customer, you also need to view each interaction as an opportunity for growth.Fostering loyalty through efficient interactions is the first step towards this growth, with each successful customer service experience increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases. Online beauty brand Cult Beauty created a more efficient live chat experience and realised a 62 second reply time.the company achieved a 92.6% customer satisfaction rating and their best ever year.
But on top of efficiency, you also need to be constantly looking for the ‘icing on the cake’ - the way of adding value to every transaction through proactive engagements or value-add personal recommendations.The way to do this effectively is by arming your agents with the tools to do a great proactive job as well as an efficient reactive job.
Customer service Champions are acutely aware how lucrative this strategy can be. Our CX Maturity Study reveals that they are over four times as likely as customer service Starters to deliver strong customer visibility to their agents.The holy grail here is to combine records of all your customer interactions across all your channels into a central database accessible to everyone in your organisation, from the marketing and business development teams to the customer service team. This ‘single source of truth’ enables you to then create personalised multi-dimensional experiences steeped in deep knowledge of your customers’ needs, wants and experiences with your brand to date.
3. Unify businesses processes across channels to gain a holistic understanding of customer activity
Tied to this is the need to shift away from seeing customer service operations as a ‘bolt on’ decentralised service. Businesses that are moving away from this dated approach and weaving their customer service experience offering into the heart of their businesses and strategy are reaping the rewards.
Online money transfer service Wise, which moves over $6 billion every month for 10 million customers, is a great example of how beneficial this unified approach can be.The company has started running twice yearly Customer Challenge days. On these days people from across the Wise business talk to customers via their customer service platform. This helps the entire business retain its customer centric focus and gives key decision makers invaluable insights into the needs of their customer base, which in turn positively impacts everything from marketing strategy to service evolution.
4. Anticipate and respond to evolving needs
The savviest businesses don’t just create omni-channel experiences, they preempt where those multi-channel experiences are heading and continually evolve to match demand. On average, SMB CX Champions have added at least one new communication channel to their CX offering in the past 12 months according to our latest research.With two thirds (63%) of businesses anticipating that messaging and chat services will be heavily used in the future, investing in these is a great place to start.
At Cult Beauty over 30,000 of their interactions (8% of their overall contacts) were conducted on its Zendesk run LiveChat service in 2020.This brings us on to a final reason to move from one-dimensional transactions to multi-dimensional experiences. They are not only more rewarding for your customers, they’re also more enjoyable and productive for your agents. Our CX Maturity study reveals that CX SMB Champions have 72% higher agent output than CX Starters, while Mid-sSize and Enterprise CX Champions are nine times as likely as CX starters to rate their agent retention as excellent.
With CX Champions reaping the benefits of happier customers, boosted brand differentiation, higher per customer spends and higher agent retention rates isn’t it time that you joined their ranks? With over three quarters of Champions now seeing their service team as profit drivers, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The State of CX Maturity among SMBs of Europe
To help businesses make data-driven decisions, Zendesk partnered with ESG Research to build a framework around CX maturity. Read the report to see where your team stands.