By Janet Schoel, Debbie Major and Shafiul Fuad
More than ever, companies are adjusting their marketing programs and customer experience (CE) offerings to account for one of the greatest threats to business success: lack of convenience. You’ve probably heard the recent viral sensation that was a disastrous customer service call with a certain cable provider in the United States. While this example offers a wealth of lessons of what not to do in customer service, there’s an overarching theme here: offering simple, easy, quick and convenient service will go a long way to building up your reputation -- doing the opposite can hurt your bottom line.
Here are a few considerations as you evaluate and look to improve your own CE offerings, in the pursuit of a state of "extreme convenience."
- Offer customer service that’s more proactive than reactive -- Moving or enhancing the brand is not about reacting anymore; it’s about being proactive -- having a grasp on what the consumer will most likely need can help set you apart from the competition. It will be important to train frontline employees (for example, in the contact centre) with new scripts based on anticipating customers’ needs, interests and emotional style. Corporations will need to give employees flexible support tools with monitoring capabilities, as well as making sure there is enough manpower to support a more proactive customer service approach.
- Offer a multitude of channel options, but not too many -- Giving your customers a choice of myriad communication channels to contact you can help ensure a more convenient experience. For example, there’s an increasing demand for channels that can handle “one-and-done” inquiries like social media, text-based media (email and chat) and voice (phone). However, offering customers with too many channels can be overwhelming to the consumer and lower overall satisfaction. There should be internal dialogue that takes place to determine if new channels eliminate the need for existing ones or if they require an overuse of company resources to manage.
- Engage your employees -- We’ve seen that highly engaged employees do a better job at representing the brand promise and offer an experience that’s more convenient to customers than the non-engaged employee. Investing more in training, education and team-building exercises can help improve the quality of your workforce.
- Take advantage of new e-commerce opportunities -- Many companies have started exploring monetization opportunities through social media channels to provide a more convenient experience. For example, clothing stores are taking their products to Instagram, posting pictures with prices and a short description and providing links to PayPal or Square so purchases can be made. They’ve also leveraged tools like WhatsApp to offer customer support and live chat.
Some marketers contend it’s customer experience -- and not big marketing campaigns -- that will drive the brand more in the coming years. There’s clearly a growing impetus on companies to step it up in the convenience department or risk being left behind.