History shows that businesses often rebrand because of financial instability. Take one of the most well-known brands in the world today. In 1997, Apple was veering dangerously close to bankruptcy. In 2012 it was cheaper to buy a new iPad ($499) than one share in Apple ($585) and now 17 years after Apple’s near demise, the company stands tall amongst the big technology companies in the world.
Which sparks the question: What changed – What makes customers trust a particular brand over others? And do customers choose brands based on their perceived level of customer service?
Trust is more than just reputation and credibility. Reputation is a reflection of their actions and achievements to-date, while trust is what customers expect from the brand in the future – hard to gain but easy to lose. So understanding the importance of trust and how to develop and keep it can make a huge impact in business.
According the recent study by Trusted Advisor Associates LLC, four components are needed to develop trust with customers:
1. Credibility – Behaviour, product knowledge, skills, and ability all contribute to a customer experience that will lead to gaining trust.
2. Reliability – Consistency and predictability combined with reporting and data to prove results will always help to win trust.
3. Intimacy – Contrary to what you might think, people want to trust your brand. The relationship(s) you build will determine the level of trust.
4. Focus – One easy way to lose trust is to focus more on your products and services than on your customers’ needs. Understanding their needs will help to build trust and confidence.
So how do these four components apply to online customer service?
Having a contact form, FAQ page or contact number might no longer be enough as customers no longer use just one channel to contact a brand/company and they expect to be able to do it instantaneously – at the press of a button, 24/7.
The question is, do you have the technology in place to offer them the same seamless customer experience, regardless of which channel they use to connect with you? And just as importantly – how quickly are you able to respond?
A centralised and shared knowledge management solution will ensure that the same information is given to customers across all contact channels, helping to improve satisfaction rates. Clearly sign-posted on a home and contact page, this will enable customers to find answers to their own questions. An extended knowledge-base into a brand’s contact centre will ensure that agents give customers consistent, accurate and timely answers to their questions. This will help to reduce agent-training times and increase conversions, whilst improving the overall customer experience.
Providing an opportunity for those customers with more complex enquiries to be seamlessly escalated to one-on-one dialogue with a contact centre agent, saves them the frustrating experience of having to call the contact centre and wait on hold for minutes at a time. These web chat sessions can be automatically triggered to help reduce abandonment rates.
Offering the same level of customer service and extending the FAQ knowledge-base onto mobile or social media sites, can help to meet customer’s expectations for instant, 24/7 customer service. Investment in the right online customer service technology can provide a cost effective service across whichever channels customers choose to contact a company.
Customer complaints and feedback provide vital insight into areas for improvement. Offering customers and staff on the frontline dealing with customer complaints a mechanism to suggest improvement, and regularly analysing this information, enables organisations to optimise their service offering, helping towards meeting regulatory guidelines. Responding and acting on feedback lets customers and team members know that their opinions are valued.
In today’s economic climate, customer loyalty is fast becoming a thing of the past. Today’s businesses need to not only meet customer’s expectations but to constantly exceed them. Understanding your customers’ needs and wants and implementing the right customer service technology to meet these requirements – consistently across all channels – is pivotal to attracting new, and retaining existing customers.
A truly multi-channel service should be top of the agenda of any business offering online customer service.