When it comes to technology, change is constant and rapid. However, while consumers adopt new gadgets, platforms, and services quickly, why do established brands scramble to keep up?
With fast consumer adoption comes rapidly growing consumer expectations, and greater punishment for companies that lag behind. Take Twitter as one recent example. In 2007, the platform tipped into the mainstream, but brands wouldn’t join consumers there for two more years, realizing that they could either let consumers complain publicly about them, or show up and deliver service. By today’s standards, early attempts were rough at best, and brands had a steep learning curve to developing robust — and profitable — social media strategies.
The next frontier after social media is messaging. Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage and others superseded social platforms as the primary activity on smartphones in early 2015, according to research.
Two years later, messaging is consumers’ preferred communication channel, but most brands still rely on 1-800 numbers for customer care. This is becoming unacceptable, as the on-demand economy and “Uberization of everything” has led to impatient consumers who (rightfully) refuse to waste their time on hold and want service on their terms.
Intelligent execs have thought ahead, and their companies have already deployed the latest and best tech available to reach customers. Below, I’ve outlined the five steps to finding the right solutions for any organization.
The technology breakdown: 5 steps to getting it right.
The market is oversaturated with solutions making claims on customer care. How do you parse through the offerings to determine what you need and where you need to use it?
Know your weaknesses
Brands that don’t recognize flaws in their customer service damage their potential. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is the first step to developing a better approach to customer care — whether you need to build one from the ground up or simply refurbish a current strategy. It isn’t always easy to spot the places that need repair. This is particularly true if you’re using a legacy solution or expensive technology.
Phone-based support, in particular, is especially vulnerable to blind spots, as very few customers give feedback — and then only as edge cases who are especially angry or happy — with some not even calling at all (it’s too much hassle) and letting their dissatisfaction fester. In the absence of good analytics, have a team deeply scour online reviews and closely monitor social media during peak times to uncover the areas that need improvement.
Determine quantifiable goals
How will you define success? Without establishing a clear definition, you’ll be unable to measure the true ROI of your investment. Having a firm grasp on your end goals can help direct and narrow down your search.
Are shoppers abandoning their carts before checkout? Explore content banners that offer deals to nudge them toward purchase. Looking to improve your customer service response time? See how integrating bots can automate routine tasks and conversations. Don’t determine the goals too narrowly either. Just because a conversation with a supposed resolution is “short” does not mean it was good. Frame things in terms of customer happiness, such as CSAT and NPS, or a more modern method, rather than problem resolution.
Stick strictly to mobile-first, the “super-channel”
At this point, smartphone adoption is nearing saturation point, especially among more affluent retail consumers. This means, for the first time, that there is a “super channel” that trumps all others: the mobile screen which sits in the pocket or bag of every single customer. This tipping point is very important, because it allows you to deprioritize legacy investments (which consumers mostly dislike anyway) and double down on new approaches like in-app messaging, or connection and real-time messaging via Facebook, which more than likely sits on the customer’s home screen already. This is a continuous, asynchronous connection to the pocket of every person — far more powerful than adding another email blast to their overcrowded inboxes.
Gain buy-in from Leadership
Before signing a contract, involve other team members in the decision. Encourage the individuals whose jobs will depend on the technology to first take it for a test-drive. Also lay out a roadmap: where do we go from here? The shift to messaging in customer care is just step one of a broader strategy, which you might call “digital transformation”, and which presents many other options right afterwards, like digitized voice and video connections. Which ways to connect with customers make sense for you, as a retailer? Think in terms of how high-touch or low-touch you want your CX to be, and how you can foster brand engagement with your buyers, without putting them off.
Encourage user adoption
Finally, user adoption is fundamental to a successful tech implementation. Whether you need day-long training sessions or a simple introductory email, do whatever it takes to get employees first excited about the new resource and then fully onboarded. The follow-up is equally important: For those that successfully adopt the new tech, create testimonials and case studies to showcase the impact and gain even more internal advocates and evangelists for the tech. If your employees aren’t on board, how can you expect your customers to be?
Combing through the crowded tech landscape is no easy task. But the right technology can transform your CX and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Rob LoCascio is Founder and CEO of LivePerson