Thought leadership

With two fifths (41%) of consumers influenced by negative social media reviews it is of little surprise that we are seeing more and more companies investing in their customer experience strategy. 

Forrester research recently found that 90% of companies view customer experience as one of their top priorities for 2015, while 60% agree that a strong customer experience offers them a competitive differentiator in the connected world.

In this exclusive article for Engage Customer I look at the role customer service is playing in the connected world and provides his top tips for embedding customer service into your business strategy.

The age of the customer

“Customers today control the conversations they are having with companies. As a result companies have to become a lot more obsessed with delivering individual experiences and end to end engagement – in line with expectations that garner satisfaction and long term loyalty,” Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester

The proliferation of technology paired with the rise in social media usage means consumers are demanding more information from brands than ever before; before they choose to interact, transact or continue doing business with them.

For many brands, this has taken them into terrifying territory, where handling a single negative customer experience badly has spiralled into having a detrimental impact on brand perception, customer engagement and subsequent brand loyalty. For others, quick adaptation has allowed them to use customer service to drive valuable brand engagement. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to a good customer service strategy; each consumer will have different needs and expectations that make them and the experience they wish to receive unique – no easy feat for customer service professionals. What we do know however is that consumers today are characterised by one common need; to be able to contact a company – effortlessly – over the channel of their choice and get a quick response to their questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Customer service as the cornerstone of a successful customer experience strategy

“Good customer experience has a quantifiable revenue impact – a happy customer correlates to a loyal customer. Nowadays customer service is the cornerstone to a company’s customer experience strategy with around two thirds of customer interactions linked with customer service,” Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester

While what companies ultimately need to do may sound simple enough – present customers with the right information at the right time and they will be brand loyal – the fragmented nature of today’s customer service landscape puts customer service professionals in a tough spot when looking for a quick fix. How do you create a joined up approach to customer service across multiple departments and customer service channels?

The simple answer is through knowledge management. While for the majority of companies knowledge already exists as part of the customer service function, knowledge systems are all too often managed in siloes – either departmental or by business unit or channel (online, in-store). The problem with this is that resources are inconsistent, meaning customers will get different responses to their questions depending on how, when and through which channel they approach an organisation. And speaking as a customer myself, I know there is nothing more frustrating!

With inconsistent brand information found to have a negative impact on brand perception, and research finding that the majority (82%) of customer service gripes could be fixed by access to more information, it’s important that organisations start embedding knowledge management into their business strategy – rather than viewing it as an add on.

Evoking loyalty through knowledge

“A loyal customer is more willing to stay true, less likely to turn to competitor brands and will consider your company for additional purposes and serve as a company advocate,” Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester

If you are still unsure how to go about managing knowledge in your organisation our top tips for ensuring a consistently high level of customer service are a good place to start:

–        Improve knowledge access: Make the information easier and more convenient to obtain – are your customers able to access knowledge pre, during and post purchase?

–        Increase knowledge proficiency: Turn your employees into seasoned experts – do your employees, regardless of business unit or service channel, have access to the same consistent information?

–        Expand knowledge enablement: Make knowledge available across any device from any location – can your customer service function be optimised across every channel, operating system and mobile device?

–        Accelerate knowledge availability: Empower your customers and employees to respond to issues on the most convenient channels – are your customers able to switch channels during the customer service process to ensure ease of use/speed?


Chris Hall is Chief Marketing Officer at Transversal



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