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While more and more products and services are transitioning into the digital world. At some point or another we all need some sort of help and some companies offer better consumer experiences (CX) than others.
It could be that you are having an actual problem, a question or you would like to offer some suggestions, whatever the reason, sometimes its hard for people to reach out to some of these companies.
When you are in trouble, the ideal situation is that you should be able to just reach out for help and get your problem sorted. Consumers just want their problem fixed, out of their way, so they can continue doing what is important for them.
Sometimes it feels some organizations are hiding from their customers and this is not going to work well for them. Some might be troubled managing big contact volumes, others were simply not prepared to work remotely and have the wrong tools or processes in place.
I found this happening with two companies in the past week, I spent more time than I wished trying to reach out for a contact form to send my support request, question or comment.
Below you can find 11 points I think companies would benefit to offer better consumer experiences.
1 – Be there for them: You want to tell your customers you are there for them whenever they have a question, problem or concern. Transmit them that level of confidence on your website and applications so you can build trust.
2 – Don’t make it difficult for them to reach out for help: For example, a chat bot that proposes solutions or engages into troubleshooting steps which you can customize or automate. This way when your customers reach out to you, you already know they tried several things and the resolution can be expedited.
3 – Focus on usability: I cannot empathize this enough, the best products and services are the ones that don’t need any sort of explanation. Most people should be able to understand how they work. It’s not about just reducing the amount of support requests your organization will receive, but more about ensuring your consumers have a great memorable experience with your application or service. Then they will recommend you to others.
4 – Offer a multi-channel experience: Not everybody feels comfortable being pushed to a single method of contact. For example, several years ago GoDaddy (a popular Internet domain registrar) decided that the only way to reach out to their support team would be by phone. There was no way to reach out to them over a contact form or email. At some point they included online chat, but their waiting queues were 20 minutes long (as well as with the phone queue). Clearly making your customers wait for you for 20 minutes every time they needed your help, was not a good idea. This was so tedious that I ended up taking out all my domains from their platform to another provider. I hope they fixed this for the sake of their current customers.
Keeping your customers in a “hostage” situation be it over the phone or a chat window its just wrong. Believe me, most people would prefer to be doing something else with their lives than waiting in a queue for help.
Offer different ways for people to reach out, contact form, chat bot, live chat, phone, social media, but implement them wisely. Don’t fear to turn one of those channels off (or don’t turn them on at all) if you can’t offer a smooth experience. I think the most accepted method today for small businesses is still being able to complete a simple form and expect a response in around 24 hours (2 working days tops).
5 – Offer an emergency path: If you offer critical services, consider offering a way for your customers to reach out in a faster way. Maybe you want to guide them through troubleshooting steps to ensure they cleared several validations before reaching out, that’s fine, but offer them a way at the end to reach out to you.
6 – Reaching out is just one side of the coin: The contact channel on which your customers connect with you is just the first step. It is equally important for them to receive a proper answer to their problem or question. It happened to me multiple times, you reach out to support, the team responds with totally irrelevant answers, you ask again, you try to clarify. The whole conversation ends up in an eternal back and forth. With each exchange the level of frustration increases and time is wasted.
Understanding what your customer is asking for is key, support agents need to be able to consult a colleague if they don’t understand (I call this the four eyes principle). Of course if still unclear it would be fine to come back to your customer asking for further clarification, or even try to reach them over the phone to better understand what the problem is.
The follow up of each support request is crucial to contribute to a better experience with the products or services they consume from you.
7 – Don’t hide: You need help, you go to the product or provider’s website, you can’t find a way to contact them or get support. The result? You spend several minutes trying to figure out how your problem or question can be answered. You browse here there, the level of frustration increases. Does this resonates with you?
You don’t want to have your customers associate any negative feelings to your products or brand. You want them to feel happy, so they can remain being your customers for a long time and/or consume more of your products. Expose easy contact methods for your customers to reach out for help, and if you can offer synergies between them, even better.
For example; you can offer a chat experience which first engages the customer with an automated chatbot, then on the same interface offers knowledge articles to try to fix the problem, if this doesn’t help the chatbot can automatically offer a contact form or a live chat session with someone to help. This would offer the user alternatives to get an answer without having to wait, while at the same time would allow organizations to deflect people from, asking simple questions that could be answered in automated ways. I like these methods because they offer a good experience from the customer point of view, and companies can optimize support costs. When in doubt, put yourself in the customer shoes and think if it makes sense, ask other colleagues if they feel the same. Check this article about 40 fascinating UX statistics.
8 – The power of Self Service and strong knowledge bases: As most of us use Google to search for things on the web, its not surprising many of your customers are probably getting used to the idea of self-service. This is the preferred contact method especially by younger people who prefer to get a fast answer to their problems without having to wait or manually reach out for help. Don’t just take my word up for it, 67% of respondents of this survey answered that they would prefer self-service to speaking with a company representative.
A strong self-service portal fed by rich knowledge base articles, will help your users clarify their questions fast to enable them to keep them going. And if you use video and screenshots with callouts, then the quality of these articles is more engaging. Make sure you set a review policy for your knowledge articles, so they remain up-to date and relevant. I’ve implemented the Knowledge Management process in an international organization with more than 80.000 users. The most challenging aspect of it is to have quality content while keeping the editors actively contributing. For this, introducing gamification and more ways of keeping people motivated helps a lot.
9 – Mobile as the preferred channel: According to StatCounter, 55.6% of the Internet traffic happens on mobile. Desktop is on the second place at 41.5% and decreasing. So make sure your services and engagement channels are friendly with mobile platforms Otherwise, you may risk losing them to competitors.
10 – Internal alignment of the importance of customer service and user experience: To be able to succeed in driving engaging customer experiences, it’s important to bring everyone on the same page. It’s not a coincidence that Amazon Leadership Principles start with, “Customer Obsession“. Actively having people contribute with ideas in a customer centric environment can only bring positive outcomes. Encourage employees to participate and suggest creative ways to bring better engagement with your customers.
11 – Give your customers a voice: Many years back, Dropbox implemented a way for people to request functionalities and vote them up or down. This worked like magic, they were able to focus their development pipeline towards to what users were asking for.
Platforms like UserVoice made this easy to implement for many companies. Modern workflows of ideas collection like the one offered by the ServiceNow Platform Idea Management are key to surface what your customers want and enables others to up vote these ideas to show they are important for them too. It helps simplify the constant improvements you can bring to your products and services.
Whatever tool you implement, give your customers a chance to express what they would like to see improved, and care about what they say, validate and act upon. Respect the fact that a customer is taking their time to submit feedback to you, you are very lucky.
Smooth customer experiences should be in the core DNS of every product and service. It will keep people engaged and loyal to your brand and help you drive more business.
All the points mentioned above, are equally applicable inside an organization too. In the end organizations offer lots of products and services to their own employees, so ensuring they have smooth experiences will help them perform better and increase positive sentiment for the company they work for.
What do you think? Did your organization implement successful strategies to better interact with customers and employees? Would love to read your comments below.