They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So I've been thinking: is it possible to sum up all the knowledge of the world's pioneers of innovative digital customer service into one quick and easy step that any brand can take?
Well, the short answer is no. But by looking at examples from companies like Virgin Atlantic, Netflix and Zappos, and thinking practically about some of the most abstract theories of customer experience and decision-making, we have managed to fit the journey toward innovating digital customer service into five steps..
Let's take a look at those five steps, shall we?
Step 1: Empower customer service agents
It all starts with a change in the way we think about customer service agents, and how much we value them. Empowering customer service agents is the first step a customer service pioneer must take.
Why it's important: Customer service agents are your main contacts to your customers. If they have the freedom to be themselves, they'll form deeper, longer-lasting relationships with customers.
Step 2: Compete on customer experience
The second step for customer service pioneers is to leave price wars behind and start distinguishing themselves from the competition by providing humanized customer experience. Prices can only get so low for so long, but competition based on customer experience is the future.
Why it's important: More brands than ever are competing on the basis of customer experience, and those that focus most intently on the experience and emotions of their customers will excel.
Step 3: Measure empathy KPIs, not just efficiency
The third step for pioneers-to-be is to change the way you evaluate your customer service team. For customer service pioneers, KPIs based on time or efficiency are not nearly as important as those based on emotion.
Why it's important: Traditional KPIs don't tell us much about how the customer feels, nor do they provide an accurate picture of how well your agents are connecting with customers and trying to delight them.
Step 4: Create a truly omnichannel platform
The fourth step is rethinking omnichannel. Pioneering companies are blurring the lines between online retail and brick-and-mortar selling, and creating an omnichannel experience that doesn’t disappear when customers go offline.
Why it's important: As the online world and the real world continue to merge, savvy brands are pioneering in the space where those worlds intersect. More ways to connect with customers mean more opportunities.
Step 5: Build human connections
The fifth step, and the summit of innovation in digital customer service, is making genuine human connections, and enriching the lives of your customers by delighting and surprising them.
Why it's important: Connecting with your customers in real ways is what it's all about. Customers are increasingly seeking out brands that keep it real by going beyond the script to make human connections.
Interested in learning other ways customer expectations are changing in the digital age? Watch our webinar Digital – First Customer Service: The Future is Here Today.