Building engaging customer experiences in customer service flows

What is customer experience?

Customer Experience (CX) is all about how customers feel when they interact with your company. It’s the sum total of all their interactions, both online and offline. It includes every aspect of the customer’s journey, from the moment they first learn about a product or service to the time they make a purchase and beyond.

CX is more critical than ever before, as now customers have many choices when it comes to where they spend their money. In today’s competitive landscape, it’s more important than ever for companies to focus on delivering outstanding customer experiences.

Additionally, businesses that deliver excellent CX are five times more likely to be profitable than those that don’t. Thus, it’s clear that customer experience is key to success in today’s marketplace.

CX leaders vs. CX laggards Total Return of Stocks (Source: Watermark Consulting — 2015)

Why is customer experience necessary in service channels?

Customer experience is especially important in service channels because it’s the first point of contact for many customers. If a company can make a good impression with its customer service representatives, it can set the tone for the rest of the customer’s interactions.

In addition, customer service is often where customers have their most frustrating experiences. If a company can turn those negative experiences around and make them positive, it can go a long way in building customer loyalty.

Studies show brand loyalty matters, with 87% of customers saying they are likely to continue doing business with a company because of the experience they had with a customer service representative. Thus, it’s clear that delivering great customer experiences in customer service channels is imperative for success.

Why is CX less present in customer service channels?

Whilst it’s clear there are many benefits to having great CX in service channels, it’s also evident that organizations are struggling to deliver this. There are a few reasons why CX is less present in customer service channels. One of the main issues is the pressure businesses are under to keep handling times low.

As humans and not machines run most customer service departments, it’s quite a costly department to run. To reduce expenditure, many organizations push to keep handling times as short as possible, at the sacrifice of providing stellar customer experiences.

Customer experience is closely linked with the buying experience — which is why many organizations focus their efforts on winning customers over with a great product and excellent purchasing experience. However, if you’re looking to secure the loyalty of your customers, it’s imperative that you offer a great customer experience at times when the interaction may be less favorable.

Nearly 80% of customers will forgive a bad brand experience if they rate the customer service team as ‘very good.’ In contrast, only 20% will forgive a bad brand experience if the customer service team offers bad CX. Customer service is just as important as the purchasing experience when it comes to using customer experience to keep customers loyal.

This means you need to offer a good experience even when facing an issue, refund or complaint. You need to think out the customer experience flows when designing CX strategy during these times. If you deliver a bad customer experience when a customer is already frustrated, you’re already massively falling behind competitors. Do it right? And you’ll be well on your way to building an exceptionally loyal customer base.

How to get CX in service channels right:

In customer service, it’s all about offering a personalised experience that flows consistently. There are two key things to consider when trying to set up a compelling customer experience within your service channels:

Personal: The experience you offer consumers should be personalized and tailored for your brand and their needs. Human-centric customer service teams are often unable to achieve this, as some agents are better at providing positive CX than others. To get CX right, you want to ensure you’re offering the best service and CX at all times.

Automate: Using artificial intelligence can really help your business, reducing customer service costs. There’s less pressure on businesses to reduce handling times to keep down costs, which means you’re able to converse with the client as long as needed to deliver an exceptional experience.

What are some examples of adding CX to the customer service flow?

If a user asks about the availability of a product, customer service teams will often answer that question, i.e. ‘it’s not available until next month.’ However, the customer experience flow addition would be to send the customer an alert when the product becomes available on the website.

Example of an automated, yet CX optimized dialog. A customer asks whether a product is back in the store, a bot searches for product availability, and asks if the customer would like to receive an alert when it is.

Alternatively, after a customer gets in contact asking about the delivery of a product and why it’s taking too long, you can trigger an automated CX-oriented ‘product tips & tricks’ email about the product, allowing the customer to experience the product already before it arrives.

Getting started with building CX in service flows:

The good news is that if CX is already an integral part of your business, it’s a lot easier to improve your CX within your service channels. This is because you’re able to take the learnings from your product team and use this data to create a seamless CX strategy.

If not, here are the key things you need to know about getting started with building customer experience in service flows, including some tools you can use to kick-start a CX project:

1. Understand your customers

It’s essential to have a good understanding of your customers — who they are, what their needs and wants are, and what frustrates them. This will help you design better customer experiences and service flows. Some tools you can use to better understand your customers: MonkeyLearn, Optimizely, Unless, UsabilityHub

2. Have access to the right data

You’ll need access to the right data and endpoints within your organization to understand how your customers interact with your customer service team.

This data could include information on customer interactions with your team (e.g. chat transcripts, call recordings) and data on customer behavior and preferences (e.g. purchase histories, demographic data). This will help you to personalize the CX flow. A great tool that might help you access data in an intuitive manner is Retool.

3. Think about quality service

It doesn’t make sense to invest in your CX flow if your customer service still isn’t up to scratch. CX works as an experience enhancer. If your customer isn’t happy about the product experience or service, CX may come across as sugar coating or even manipulative. If you already started automating customer service, you can use Qbox to analyze which customer questions are still lagging behind in terms of the quality of the response.

4. Use heuristics to guide design

Heuristics are general design principles that can help you create better customer experiences. Some common heuristics include usability, accessibility, and emotional design.

You can apply heuristics to your customer service flow. For example, you might consider how easy it is for customers to find the information they need or how satisfying it is to use your customer service channels. Usually, it takes dedicated Data scientists and Conversational Designers to build the right heuristics, but nowadays more and more of the heuristic design is done automatically or can be done by non-tech service agents using tools like Reassign.

For every company/industry, there are CX boosting flows to think of. When you make the step to automate more of your service department, it’s the perfect time to go all-in on providing an exceptional customer experience as well.

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