The Importance of Consistency in Customer Service (and How to Achieve It)
In today’s fast-paced, multichannel marketplace, there’s no longer any doubt that businesses of all shapes and sizes need to approach customer care from an omnichannel perspective that not only puts customers first, but adapts to their needs and preferences, too. (In case you missed it our recent rundown, you can read more about the importance of omnichannel marketing here.)
But it’s not just enough to launch an omnichannel strategy. To truly make it work requires, above all, achieving consistency across all the different communications formats where people engage with your brand. And successfully integrating all of these components into one larger whole means making sure that customers enjoy the same experience wherever they choose to contact you, at any given time.
In fact, many analysts point to the importance of consistency in customer service as the driving force behind satisfaction and, even more crucially, customer loyalty.
“Seventy-five percent of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social), with 73% likely to switch brands if they don’t get it,” according to customer service statistics from Salesforce. “Customer loyalty—and attrition—is determined by every experience.”
“Seventy-five percent of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social), with 73% likely to switch brands if they don’t get it.” Click To Tweet
The Challenges of Consistency in Customer Service
In theory, achieving consistency in customer service means simply translating the quality of experience people receive via one channel—say, incoming phone calls or web inquiries—to every other format—such as online chats or social media interactions. Sounds easy enough, right? Yet in the mad rush to achieve a presence everywhere as quickly as possible, consistency is too often left as an afterthought, or disregarded entirely.
That’s often due to the lack of availability of skilled labor. After all, it’s difficult enough for a small- to medium-sized business to recruit and staff the talent necessary to ensure that customers receive prompt, friendly, around-the-clock responses to phone or online inquiries. But it often takes an entirely different set of skills to offer that same quality and timeliness via, say, interactions that may come in via social media or third-party sources like Amazon or eBay.
But neglecting those other channels is a mistake: “Customers expect the same experience every time they interact with a company—whether it be when researching a product, completing a sales transaction, or getting customer service—over all the communication channels that a company offers,” as Kate Leggett explains in a Forrester Research analysis of the importance of consistent customer service.
Customers expect the same experience every time they interact with a company—whether it be when researching a product, completing a sales transaction, or getting customer service—over all the communication channels that a company offers
The 4 Factors in Achieving True Customer Service Consistency
In that Forrester analysis, Leggett goes on to explain that businesses can achieve consistency by working to unify their methods in terms of customer data, messaging and operations. And most experts agree on this point, as well as the increasing need to partner with a proven expert to achieve them. With that in mind, let’s look at the four key steps toward achieving consistency in customer service.
1. Unify your customer history.
To create truly consistent customer service requires ensuring that each customer is treated like a loyal, long-time, valued customer, in each and every interaction. Too often, though, this step is stymied at its earliest stages by disinterested or uninformed agents who make customers explain their situations over and over again.
To create truly consistent customer service requires ensuring that each customer is treated like a loyal, long-time, valued customer, in each and every interaction.
To solve this common tripping point, businesses should work to ensure that all agents have at their fingertips a complete and up-to-date history of each customer with whom they interact. That means knowing, instantly, whether a customer has contacted you through other means at any point, and, if so, the nature of the inquiries, and what type of product or service is usually preferred.
Adopting this measure means that relationships can be built upon and expanded in a meaningful way with each interaction, rather than started from scratch each time. Besides being an obvious boon for customer satisfaction, this is a helpful tool in upselling, too.
2. Integrate your talking points.
Hand-in-hand with a unified approach to customer history comes the need to fully integrate of all your company data, messaging and strategy into a single, on-the-spot tool for customer care agents. This means not only communicating the same talking points to the people who call you via phone as those who visit your website, but also communicating with all of those people the advantages of connecting with you via all your other channels for access to a deeper relationship with your brand.
For example: While it’s a great idea to offer special deals or pre-sale options to specific segments of your audience—for instance, sharing an exclusive coupon code to your Twitter followers, or those who have subscribed to your email list—it’s not a good thing to deny access to this preferred status to any of your other communications efforts, or for agents on the phone to withhold access to this exclusive relationship with interested callers.
A consistent approach means not only rewarding those customers in your preferred group, but actively encouraging all other customers to join that group. And that means having all agents or automated responses plugged into the same message, no matter what channel they’re working within.
3. Prioritize consistency in routing.
If a customer receives a faster, more satisfying response via one format than another, the result tends to be a general dissatisfaction with the brand in general. So, it’s important to take whatever strategy you employ in your most-emphasized customer service channel—whether phone, online, SMS text or any other—and make sure it’s translated to every other one, too.
And this isn’t just about the talking points each agent hits, although those are certainly involved. It’s also about the actual operational model you employ in responding to queries from each source. That means routing each inquiry the same way, no matter what its source (as opposed to treating certain channels as a lesser priority).
4. Retain a customer service partner.
Hitting all of the above points is no easy task. Even for larger companies with a state-of-the-art, onsite contact center, it can be difficult to integrate all the components needed for a truly consistent customer experience.
For instance, achieving a workable strategy for tracking customer history in a meaningful way is a task in and of itself. Is that simply a matter of aligning website cookies with geo-location? Do you assign each customer a membership number, providing discounts and pre-sales to incentivize participation? The answers will vary, depending on your business, customer responses and other factors.
To tackle these tasks, many businesses turn to outsourced, on-demand customer care services, such as those offered by Working Solutions. That means engaging with a single partner not just for traditional call center services, but also integrating every other aspect of the modern contact center, from website chatbots to social media, and all points in between.
Offering more than 20 years as a leader in outsourced customer care, Working Solutions is the go-to provider for consistent customer service to compete in today’s increasingly fractured consumer marketplace.
Interested in learning more about how we can help take your customer care efforts from a constant game of catch-up into a proactive driver of growth and customer loyalty?Contact us today.