Here at Woopra, we love Panera™ – it’s one of our regular lunch spots. Not only is it conveniently located near our office, but their customer service is fantastic, which makes our days that much easier. Just this week when we went to have one of our Panera lunches on King & 4th St, Elie, Woopra’s CEO, had just opened his mouth to place his regular order, when the cashier chimed in, “Greek salad with no onions and a cup of tomato soup?”. We couldn’t help but smile.
Old Fashioned Customer Service in the Digital World
Exceptional customer service is proactive. A regular walks into your restaurant, and you already know their order. Your store receives a new product that you know a customer was looking for just last week, so you give her a call. That’s good old fashioned customer service.
But today, companies are faced with a new kind of consumer who brings a new set of challenges – a consumer who is increasingly performing product research and making purchases online. According to an eMarketer report, 88% of US internet users ages 14+ will browse or research products online in 2012. Now companies must figure out how to deliver the same level of customer service to a website visitor as they would to a customer in a bricks and mortar retail location.
The companies that will succeed in customer service in the future are the ones who commit themselves to delivering a quality, “in store” experience that breaks the barriers of online and offline customer interactions. Companies must invest in new strategies and technologies to know their online customers, understand their needs, and engage with them in a personalized way.
Know Your Customer, Deliver an Experience
First and foremost, you must understand your customer because, in the digital world, customer service begins from the moment the visitor lands on your website. Customer service is increasingly becoming about the whole customer experience, not just about responding to complaints. It’s not enough to wait for a disgruntled customer to email your customer service team. By then, it’s too late.
The more you know about your website visitors and understand them as customers, the better service and experience you can provide.
Again, companies need to be proactive. Give your website visitors relevant content, personalized product suggestions and assist them one on one using live chat. Deliver that same, in store personal experience online rather than a generic, “one size fits all” service.
Communicate on Their Terms
Today’s digital consumer expects to communicate with companies differently than in the past. According to a Limelight Networks survey of 1,600 customers, 45% of shoppers say they consider online chat as one of the most important e-commerce customer service features. Similarly, a UPS commissioned study found that 36% of online shoppers want retailers to improve the availability of live customer service.
Today’s consumer is not going to pick up the phone and wait on hold for an hour to talk to a customer service representative. They want to talk to someone now and they want it to be easy.
They want to chat with a sales associate who can answer product questions while they’re looking at the product page. They want to chat with support to resolve the problem they’re having on the spot. They want to chat with your customer service representative and learn more about your offerings while they’re still able to continue doing other things on their computer.
And not only do they want to be able to easily and conveniently communicate with your company, they also want their conversations with you to be easy and frictionless. They want you to know their history with your service and what they’re currently experiencing on your website without them having to tell you. They want you to know who they are.
Just like Elie’s Panera experience showed us, when you know your customer enough to make his day a tiny bit easier in even the smallest of ways, that will keep him coming back.