Since the onset of the pandemic, 2020 has been an incredibly tough year for businesses worldwide.
Many countries, including the UK, are currently in a recession or about to enter it. As you would expect, spurred on by these new circumstances, consumer buying habits have completely changed as well.
Consequently, this has forced many brands to reconsider their purpose, product offerings, marketing, and communications. As part of this, many marketers are re-aligning with customer service leaders to establish new approaches to customer service and engagement, as they prepare to tackle the rest of the year.
So, as buying habits continue to evolve, what strategies can brands put in place to drive customer engagement, win back customer spend, and improve customer loyalty?
Defining customer engagement in 2020
Customer engagement can be defined as the continuous and valuable interactions between a business and its customers. Running a successful business is not only about attracting customers to your website, converting them, securing transactions, and thanking them for their custom.
That’s crucial for ongoing success, but today, engaging customers and cultivating valuable relationships long-term is most critical and should be the focus.
Businesses aiming to make a major impact must, therefore, understand their core audience – pain points, budgets, shopping habits, goals, etc. – before they can start to really engage them.
A successful company focusing on customer engagement can use this data to anticipate buyer needs and position itself as the ideal solution. Catering to these target consumers’ requirements and delivering a quality service can help secure shoppers’ loyalty too; highly-engaged customers are likely to return, make repeat purchases and recommend the business to others. So how do you do it?
Empathy and automation lead to success
Anyone who’s called a support line and been greeted by a never-ending list of options, seemingly without an agent in sight (or had to contend with an ineffective chatbot for that matter) will understand how frustrating ‘poor’ automated service can be — especially when you know what you need, but can’t find a single person to ask.
This isn’t to say that there’s no place for a well-executed automation strategy. In fact, automating standard, repetitive tasks will promote speed, efficiency, and effectiveness in your customer journey, as well as providing your agents with a better working experience. However, automation must be introduced in a thoughtful way, with a clear strategy, helping to shape the impact on your business.
The right customer service software can intelligently determine whether an inquiry can be handled with pure automation, if it needs the human touch, or if it can be done with a mix of both.
Contextual routing and sentiment analysis are just two tactics that can help you drive customer engagement and offer a superior customer experience.
As with most things in life, balance is key, and a combination of automation and the human-to-human connection is important to many customers, especially in times like these.
Understanding customer needs
Businesses must understand their target customers and recognise what problems they need to solve. This is fundamental to ensuring they are catering to the right people and answering the right questions.
Customers’ pain points and situations may have changed dramatically since the pandemic. Acknowledging this is key.
Many customers might feel vulnerable now, with a future that seems uncertain. Companies must, therefore, work hard to deliver the level of service customers need and deserve.
Businesses must take a fresh look at their audience, identify unmet needs, and be more empathetic towards them as they adjust to a new way of life. This might mean slowing processes to allow agents extra time to listen to customers on calls or live chats. Customers will appreciate the effort and it will benefit your business.
Finally, as a successful brand operating in 2020 and beyond, you cannot discount the importance of taking all aspects of the customer journey into consideration, including customer support interactions.
Using data and insights from different sources, you can create a 360-degree view of the customer journey that encompasses conversations, ratings, sentiment analysis, interests, lifetime value, and much more. This newfound insight into your customer experience will allow you to secure higher levels of loyalty and advocacy than ever before, strengthening your brand, even in times of upheaval.
The importance of personalisation
Customers interact with multiple companies regularly. Embracing more personalisation will help your audience feel valued. That’s why 44% of consumers are likely to become repeat buyers after a personalised service interaction and 39% will introduce their friends or relatives.
Fortunately, customer service software enables brands to deliver a level of personalised service not previously possible. It can unify communications across phone, email, chat, and messaging; and agents can instantly access all the information they need in one place. This access to a customer’s interaction history enables agents to demonstrate an understanding of a customers’ previous issues, what promises were made and what their preferred communication channel is.
With customer recognition technology in place to enable personalisation, support teams can collaborate and solve problems together too; thanks to easy transfer and listen-in options. This eliminates any frustration and time spent bringing other team members up to speed when extra help is required.
COVID-19 has forced many businesses to make rapid changes to their operations and processes. Routines that were established over years were transformed almost overnight as companies adapted to survive.
For those who had already embraced remote work, the transition may have been easier. But businesses with no experience with online collaboration had to learn on-the-go. This then increases the risk of delays and disruptions to services for some — including customer support.
Fortunately, flexibility and adaptability are cornerstones of remote working. Thankfully, embracing the right software solution empowers teams with the freedom to work from any location in the world with an internet connection as if they were in the office.
Workload management and intelligent routing
Through these trying times, there will be fluctuating workloads to manage.
Quality customer service software helps agents cope and pay equal attention to every communications channel. They can monitor all relevant channels in one place rather than switching between them. This reduces wasted time and boosts agent efficiency.
Since intelligent routing prioritises inquiries ranked on importance level, agents cannot ignore interactions with the potential to get complicated. So, customers will not be left waiting for a response while “easier” issues get addressed first.
There is also less risk of making genuine mistakes that can frustrate customers — even for remote agents. Businesses can also rapidly and cost-effectively expand customer support teams virtually to accommodate demand without the need to find more office space.
Two-thirds of companies compete on the quality of their customer experience and 96% of consumers agree that customer service is key to their purchase decisions. As brands look ahead to the tail end of 2020 and beyond, they must keep this in mind and evolve their communication strategies to enable them to boost customer engagement and secure loyalty. Having the right kind of customer service software can enable businesses to meet those goals, bringing personalisation, empathy, and the human touch to the customer interactions that matter.