Digital customer service 101

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Your virtual customer support team is the backbone of your organization. They likely spend more time interacting with your customers than anyone else. They understand their issues, solve their problems, and play a starring role in brand perception.

Unfortunately, many organizations are falling short when it comes to digital customer service: over half of U.S. consumers say customer experience at most companies needs improvement. If you recognize an opportunity to improve your digital customer service (and therefore improve retention and increase revenue), you’re in good company. And it’s a good idea to go back to the basics — digital customer service 101.

Below is a high-level overview of core digital customer service elements organized into three key categories: brand, agent experience, and technology. Reference this list to bring focus to your digital customer service efforts and zero in on key areas that will have the greatest impact.

Digital customer service 101: brand

Deliver a consistent brand experience

Customers expect a consistent experience in every interaction with your brand. Your mission, values, and brand voice should be clear in every communication — including digital customer service.

The need for consistency is driving organizations to break down the walls. By 2023, one in four organizations expect they will integrate marketing, sales, and customer experience (CX) into a single function.

Don’t let your digital customer service team operate on an island. Ensure you’re delivering a consistent brand experience that helps customers feel comfortable.

Become a customer-centric organization

When companies are end-to-end focused around the customer, that’s customer centricity. It’s not just one effort. It’s the outcome of every effort — from hiring decisions to processes to UX — done with the intention of creating the best possible customer experience.

Customer centricity requires every department to contribute, but today we’re talking specifically about digital customer service. Here are some questions to ask when thinking about how you can make your digital customer service more customer-centric:

  • Is customer service easily accessible?
  • Do you have multiple channels to meet customers where they are?
  • Do you have proactive customer service (self help) available 24/7 to address common issues?
  • Are your software solutions made with customer centricity in mind?
  • Do you delight your customers?

Read: Why Customer Centricity Delivers Great Customer Experiences

Digital customer service 101: agent experience

Hire the right people

The best customer service employees will give your business a good name. A strong team member can potentially boost revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and drive your business to new and exciting places.

Who are the right people? You can train people about your product or service. Product knowledge is a nice-to-have, but more important are the skills that are harder to train: empathy, compassion, creativity, self-awareness, and a “can do” attitude.

Remember that your customer service agents spend more time with your customers than anyone else. Ensure your hiring process is designed to bring the right people into your front lines.

Allow them to convey genuine empathy (and not just through a lovey dovey script)

While most businesses know that empathy is important, many misunderstand (or simply neglect) why it’s important. Infusing empathy into pre-written scripts can feel like you’re checking “empathy” off the to-do list, but it’s coming off as insincere — and your customers notice.

Genuine empathy requires genuine human connection.

If you’ve hired the right people, you shouldn’t have to try to force empathy. Instead, allow them to be themselves, as a thread on Reddit’s CustomerService forum pleads:

“I feel like the best support experiences I have had were where the rep was allowed to do their actual jobs while encouraged to be themselves instead of trying to turn actual humans into bots.”

Read: Empathy: the Heart of Digital CX

Give agents flexibility to solve issues and delight customers

Customers reaching out to customer service want one thing even more than human connection: a solution.

Empower your customer service agents with the right tools, systems, and processes so they can find solutions efficiently and effectively. Or better yet, allow them to go above and beyond to turn a customer service interaction into an opportunity to develop brand loyalty.

For example, if a customer contacts a customer service agent to cancel an auto-shipment of pet supplies because their beloved animal passed, agents often send flowers with a personal card to express their condolences (in addition to refunding and canceling their auto-shipment).

At Zappos, customer service agents are encouraged to get to know their customers to provide next-level care. If an agent hears a baby crying in the background of a call, for example, they may send a small blanket as a gift in addition to the customer’s shoes/apparel shipment.

Help the customer, don’t make the customer help you

Nothing is worse than contacting customer service, only to have to repeat your story over and over again.

Online customers have created their digital footprint, and they don’t want to have to retrace their steps for you. Over 70% of customers expect customer service agents already to have information regarding their previous interactions with the brand.

Having this level of knowledge requires true omnichannel customer service that allows consistency and communication across devices and touchpoints, regardless of the communication channel. This creates a seamless experience for the customer. Instead of feeling like a broken record, they’ll feel seen, heard and understood.

Digital customer service 101: technology

Align your tech stack with your goals

A huge part of setting your digital customer service agents up for success is equipping them with the right tools and technology. And the right tools and technology won’t be the same for every business. With so many tools available in the market, it’s important to make strategic choices that will have the greatest impact on your organization.

Make sure your technology is speeding you up, not slowing you down

Customers are 2.4 times more likely to stick with a brand when their problems are solved more quickly.

With Glance, agents have the ability to switch modes quickly and easily. They can go from chatting with a customer to screen sharing to give them hands-on guidance in an instant. This flexibility allows agents to give the same level of support as they would if they were sitting right next to the customer. 

This is especially important if you’re providing website, app, or SaaS guidance. MINDBODY, the world’s leading wellness services online marketplace and software platform, improved the customer experience across their entire technology platform. By implementing Glance, they strengthened customer relationships, and also reduced average handle time and customer churn.

Learn more about how MINDBODY lifted customer satisfaction and product adoption with Glance here.

Get solutions that play nice together

Two great solutions can actually be double trouble if they don’t integrate. When systems and tools are fragmented and disconnected, it can slow down your team, cause frustration, and yield a clunky CX.

When building your digital customer service tech stack, make sure all your solutions integrate so you can provide a frictionless experience for both your employees and your customers.

Don’t forget the importance of human connection

Automation has transformed customer service, but it augments, not replaces, human connection.

Your technology should be empowering your customer service agents to provide quicker solutions, better care, and closer connections. Advanced technology and tools can be extremely powerful in enhancing your digital customer service, but who uses them? Humans. Keep human connection — not technology — at the center of your digital customer service efforts.

Download your eBook: Solving CX’s Human Connection Gap

Does your CX have a human connection gap?

Download your free copy of our guide, Solving CX’s Human Connection Gap, to uncover where your digital customer experience may be falling short, learn how human connection can drive real results, and explore how Intuit and Constant Contact transformed their customer experience with Guided CX.

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