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The need for real-time issue resolution has resulted in a massive proliferation of technology into customer service. And companies have welcomed this trend with open arms as it surely is one way to speed up services and expedite previously manual and time-consuming processes. Chatbots, AI, Virtual Assistants, have all helped organizations develop a sharper customer service software and automated service functions that track customer issues and queries in real-time.
All that said, there’s been a growing fear about the level of penetration technology has in customer service for a while now. When you see a company’s twitter handle tweeting the same response to every customer query/complaint, that’s technology misused and overused, and something that should make you worried.
So, how and where do you strike a balance? Well, your organization needs to bring in a certain amount of human factor into its customer service arm. Every customer is a human and explaining your query/issue to another human is always something we, in general, are comfortable with. Humanizing customer service is, therefore, an important aspect of a well-functioning customer service department.
–> According to Genesys’s Global Survey “The Cost of Poor Customer Service”, the most requested improvement from customers was “Better Human Service”.
–> An American Express study concluded that 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration as they could not talk to a real person.
–> According to Accenture Strategy’s “Global Consumer Pulse Research”, 83% prefer human beings over digital channels when it comes to solving customer service issues.
What’s quite evident is that organizations look at customer service as an assortment of routine processes any machine can imitate. But that’s hardly the case. Service is about being there for the customer, understanding the customer, and making the customer happy at the end of the day. Not all of this can be done by a robot. You need real people orchestrating this function.
Customer service, for ages, has always been centered around humans and that is how it will be for years to come. Technology is merely an enabler to help you build a quick, efficient service infrastructure.
“In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human- centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.” – Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”
So, what should organizations do if they are to bring back the human element in customer service?
Keep reminding yourself that the customer is smarter than you. If you’re sending the same we-shall-get-back-to-you message across social channels, or through your website chatbot, it doesn’t take long for a customer to find out that you aren’t genuinely concerned about his or her needs.
Customer service channels, in fact, should be opportunity to display the empathy you have for customers. So, make use of it – put a human face to your social channels, call centre, or chatbot, to truly understand and interact with your customers on a regular basis. Say something funny, enquire about customers, get into real conversations – The last thing you want to do is to come across as an emotionless bot!
“Customer service represents the heart of a brand in the heart of its customers” – Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach
A lot of organizations are highly proactive in capturing basic customer information, details about the nature of complaint or query, complaint number (in case the complaint is yet to be resolved), etc. They, hands down, use technology intelligently to get direction and context on what the customer is seeking.
But for your customer service department to drive loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing and business results, you need to effectively and efficiently RESOLVE issues. And beyond a point, great service is delivered by people. The initiative to act on an urgent customer query, resolve it by communicating it to the concerned department and then getting back to the customer to inform them that it’s been sorted involves human effort that no machine can duplicate.
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – Damon Richards.
Like I said before, technology is merely a conduit. Your customer service software can’t deliver great experiences on its own. It can’t create a community of loyal customers. You need motivated and engaged employees who would empathize with the customer, build a bond with the customer, and resolve their issue like it’s their very own!