The Importance of Creating Digital Customer Service

Fail to have your online customer service up to standard and you could face a backlash from increasingly vocal consumers on social media

The Importance of Creating Digital Customer Service

“The customer is always right.” Those working in customer services will have this mantra imprinted on their memories, and as customers ourselves most of us will have used it against a disgruntled member of staff. In the digital age this motto has become more important than ever. The avenues for customers to raise a complaint have increased rapidly with the continued growth of social media and with it businesses short fallings are being laid bare in front of a global audience.

Of course, in reality, customers are “not always” right but they do expect you to have up to date and immediate information to hand.

Use tech as an opportunity to engage the customer

I find it hard to understand how such a large proportion of companies can still get customer service so wrong. Yes, the digital age has made the ways in which companies can be ‘caught out’, or make mistakes, far greater but it is a double edged sword.

With increased transparency comes a better opportunity to understand the customer, solve problems and deal with them in a streamlined manner. The information provided willingly by these customers gives us a raft of information that can be used to provide the service they want, so let’s use it.

Personalisation is key

However, having the data is one thing, making sure it organised, processed and used correctly is another. A poorly designed or out of date internal data system means that customer information won’t be readily available to representatives when they need it.

The use of data should be seamless, for example if a customer calls a company regarding a problem, the staff member dealing with the query should be able to pull up the person’s relevant details on the computer screen in front of them. Todays customers expect that as a minimum. If a customer logs in to an online service, that website should create a personalised experience allowing for a tailored journey for each and every potential consumer.

With the right systems in place this kind of customer journey should be readily accessible for most companies. However, thanks to an over-reliance on legacy IT systems that simply aren’t designed to deal with the fast-paced, data-led and customer-centric world we live in. Some invested online retailers may have cracked it, but the likes of established insurers may still have work to do.  Customers expect you to have access to the relationship history and to blame that flaw on an out of date customer management system is no longer acceptable.

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These now archaic systems become more dated as the world of data advances. Businesses need to be rid of the low-insight databases that are holding them back.

A centralised database should be an enabler of business and not a shackle. An intelligent model is one that sits at the heart of not just a department but a business in its entirety, with customer insight coming from each and every touch point at which they interact with the business; online, social, telephone, email, in-store etc.

This allows a single customer dataset to be far more in-depth: an address given in a handwritten form can be combined with behavioural cookie data, along with the number of in-store purchases. This combination of offline and online data builds a picture of the customer far fuller than any siloed database ever could.

With a comprehensive database structure in place, a customer’s experience of a business can be radically transformed. Each interaction is more personalised than the last, allowing not only the right solution or product to be offered by the business, but also offered in real-time. This solves those seemingly perennial issues of poor complaint handling, and slow responsiveness, and so should help the UK’s customer satisfaction sky rocket.

Jon Cano-Lopez is CEO of REaD Group

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