Customer experience is the name of the game today, with more brands competing based on customer experience (CX) as a key differentiator than price or product innovation.
As we’ve said before, customer experience comes down to how your customers feel about your brand. So, the importance of engaging customers and connecting with them emotionally can’t be overstated. Companies that inspire positive emotions will enjoy more loyalty from customers who are willing to spend more over the long term.
This isn’t just our idea; it’s backed up by the stats:
- Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies (Aberdeen Group Inc.)
- 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent positive experience (Accenture)
- 67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn, but only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain (Kolsky)
- 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives (Accenture)
Many studies by groups like Forrester have concluded that customer engagement depends on employee engagement. That means connecting with customers emotionally is the task of the customer service agent. So, contact center managers need to put the right practices in place and also give agents the right tools. Bearing that in mind, here are 10 tips for connecting with customers emotionally.
1) Be personal
Contact center agents who know more about each customer can be more engaged and more personal, which is exactly the experience that today’s digital customers demand. Using first names is a first step, but good CRM data gives agents multiple opportunities to connect with customers based on their previous brand interactions. Agents can also provide better customer service simply because they know the customer’s preferred channel, previous purchases and interactions.
How to do it: Integrate CRM and digital customer service technology to learn more about your customers. Then allow that data to inform a tailored style of service for each customer.
2) Be responsive
The constant conversation on social media can be a challenge to keep up with. At the same time, social media makes customers less willing to wait days or even hours for a response. No one should expect agents to sit at the computer with multiple tabs open, waiting for customer queries to come into the news feed. Remember, it’s about working smarter, not harder. Instead, customer queries should be routed to the best agent, with multiple channels in one efficient interface so the agent can respond quickly.
How to do it: Use social customer service software that routes customer queries to the best agent in real time.
3) Be results driven
KPIs tend to drive the style of customer care a brand provides. We’ve said before that average handle time (AHT) is a dead-end. When agents are forced to respond immediately at all costs, they’re sometimes more focused on making first contact than solving the problem without further ado. It’s important to balance efficiency-based and empathy-based KPIs, and never force customers to deal with multiple agents and re-enter information they’ve already given.
How to do it: Institute an “ask once” policy that focuses less on fast responses and more on solving the customer’s issue the first time.
4) Be proactive
The brands that do digital customer service best recognize the importance of proactive care. There’s no better way to reassure current customers and to attract new ones than showing them you’re paying attention on social media. Listening technology allows you to program keywords and topics of customer conversation on social media so you can respond to relevant exchanges even when they don’t include brand mentions. Customers appreciate this level of attentiveness.
How to do it: Use listening technology to provide proactive care to current and potential customers talking about your brand or product type on social media.
5) Be channel-focused
Customers don’t like to wait, and they don’t want to be hassled. That’s one of the main reasons digital customer service has proven so popular. So, making customers channel hop, speak with multiple agents and re-enter information kind of defeats the purpose. It’s important to be available for customers on the channels they prefer and then offer service on that channel. They’ve contacted you on that channel for a reason, after all, so moving them elsewhere is inconvenient and feels insensitive.
How to do it: Don’t make customers channel hop. Be there for them on the channels they prefer and endeavor to solve their queries in-channel.
6) Be available on multiple channels
We’ve already mentioned why it’s important to know your customers’ preferred channels and to offer service there. And since every customer is different, it’s important to have a presence on multiple channels, from live chat to Twitter and everything in between. The larger you can cast the digital net, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to offer the type of efficient, personalized service that your customers are looking for.
How to do it: Have an omnichannel presence and use digital customer service software that aggregates multiple channels into one simple interface.
7) Be on-point with data
Since customer experience has everything to do with how your customers feel about your brand, you need to have data about them to know who they are and how they feel. This data is available in troves on social media and when you keep track of information about previous exchanges with each customer. Customer data should be the starting point of every interaction, and agents need to be encouraged to make use of this data to offer better service.
How to do it: Integrate digital customer service and CRM and use data about your customers to provide more personalized service.
8) Be willing to go the extra mile
“To surprise and delight with extraordinary service” is a good mission statement for customer service agents. In order to do so, they must be given the space and the encouragement to go out of their way with customers. Not every customer interaction should last 10 hours, and no brand can afford to give away mountains of free product. But on social media it’s often the little gestures that really connect with customers. Checking in after an issue has been solved, for example, is a great way to go a little further to show a customer you really care.
How to do it: Encourage agents to take time with customers to surprise and delight them with extraordinary service.
9) Be funny
A little laughter never hurts; humor is one of the best things about social media. While you can’t flip a switch and make every customer service agent hilarious, it’s not a bad idea to let agents know there is room for humor in social customer service. Check out any of the brands that are most famous for great service, from Apple to Zappos, and you’ll see how they use humor to connect with customers. That doesn’t mean hiring Andrew Dice Clay to manage your contact center, because customer service should be results-driven above all. But laughter isn’t just the best medicine, it’s also a great way to inspire positive emotions in customers.
How to do it: Remember not every post on social media must be a response to a customer query. Take advantage of the multi-media nature of social media and show some character.
10) NICE inContact CXone
CXone was created to help companies serve customers better by creating real human connections with them at scale. Our software tells you more about each customer and organizes the influx of customer service requests so you can provide digital customer service with all the efficiency of automation and the authenticity of real human interaction. We’d love to tell you more about it.
Watch our webinar, Digital – First Customer Service: The Future is Here Today, to understand how contact centers are providing digital experiences.