Customer service, or actually customer experience, is an essential component of a successful business. It is more than just customer service. Sustainable customer service is at the heart of a successful customer relationship. It ensures that customers feel that they are valued and that their concerns are taken seriously. This includes ensuring that companies are able to respond to the needs and wishes of their customers – the key to long-term customer loyalty. By integrating modern technologies and using advanced strategies, a company can offer future-proof customer service that meets customers‘ needs.
Driven by the shortage of skilled workers, the focus in customer service in recent years has been on further developing the technology that can be used. As a result, the demands on customer service employees have also changed significantly. Self-service solutions and chat/voice bots mean that many concerns can be resolved without personal contact with an employee. The customer concerns that still reach an employee are often complex and require a very high level of expertise. At the same time, the customer also expects a friendly and communicative counterpart. This requires intensive training and familiarization of new employees in their field of expertise and permanent further training for their staff. Regular training ensures that everyone involved understands and implements the same standards. Here it is important to find the right mix of classroom training, e-learning and webinars.
To ensure a high level of service quality, it is important that customer service employees have access to all the information they need about the products, solutions or services on offer in digital form at all times. Although the main thing in contact with the customer is the correct resolution of his or her request, the competence of the employee, even if only perceived, is often determined by the speed of the response. Printed product sheets or process flows should therefore disappear from every contact center and, depending on the complexity, be replaced by an appropriate knowledge management solution that supports the solution of concerns. These systems can be promptly enriched with current product information from adjacent areas such as product development, marketing, etc., so that customer service always has up-to-date information at its disposal.
Good leadership skills play a major role in a successful customer service organization. Managers in customer service form the interface between management and customer service employees, they are the human link to other departments and know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees in order to deploy them in a targeted manner and work together on problem-solving strategies.
Qualifying employees and guiding them along career paths is an important part of employee management. Career paths should be created for this purpose so that employees remain motivated and constantly expand their knowledge – which ultimately leads to better service.
Digitization has revolutionized customer service: AI chatbots answer questions, voice bots help with inquiries, and self-services provide quick access to important information. This makes it much easier for customers to serve themselves. With voice portals, they can communicate with the company via voice commands to get quick solutions to their problems. These technologies lead to improved service quality and an optimal customer experience – with no waiting times and no stress.
In this context, chatbots have become an important part of digitization. They are an intelligent and automated form of interaction that enables companies to communicate more efficiently and quickly with their customers and prospects. With the use of chatbots, numerous self-service options can be offered, creating a simple and efficient solution for communicating with customers.
Chat/voicebots are offered in customer service as a context-based communication solution. They offer the possibility of interacting automatically with the customer via dialogs. How well a bot answers a query depends on the answers stored in the bot and the associated intents. Chatbots and voicebots work in the same way. Equipped with AI, bots are able to learn on their own after being trained. In addition, NLP-based chatbots can also recognize linguistically deviating formulations.
Voice portals are another way to interact with customers. They are often used to match customer data or pre-classify customer concerns to connect the customer with the right employee.
By automating communication, companies can achieve a higher quality of service. Chatbots are therefore an indispensable part of the digital transformation.
Self-service is an increasingly important factor in customer satisfaction. That’s why many companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and technologies that enable customers to respond quickly and efficiently to their inquiries. Self-service solutions can be integrated into almost all contact channels. The best-known self-service solution is usually on the website as FAQs and include „step-by-step“ instructions on how to install software, for example. But product and explanatory videos are also often made available as self-service solutions. In a voice portal where identification and authentication are possible, personal data can also be recorded and transmitted via self-service. The feeling of independence and control helps ensure that customers have a positive customer experience.
Omnichannel strategies: Customers today expect a unified and consistent experience across all contact channels. One way to achieve this is to use omnichannel or multichannel strategies in customer service.
The multichannel approach, which has been used for some time, makes it possible in customer service to easily integrate different communication channels and thus create more options for interaction with the customer. In addition to the classic channels such as telephone and email, this can include chat, social media or app, for example. However, in the multichannel strategy, the contact channels run in parallel and independently of each other; there is no correlation of the information collected. When a customer submits an inquiry via social media, it is processed by the social media team. If the inquiry is not processed immediately, the same customer may additionally send his request by e-mail. Since the contact channels are not connected, two employees would now process the same request from a customer and, in the worst case, send divergent responses to the customer.
In the omnichannel approach, however, customer service employees have the option of accessing all customer information via a central application. This includes information on purchases and inquiries made to date, contact channels used, and interaction processes.
Omnichannel uses the interaction of channels. At its core is a consistent customer experience – no matter how often or through which channel a customer contacts Customer Service. This allows you to track every single contact your customers make and gives the customer service team access to useful information from previous contacts. The amount of information available allows for much more customized (solution) offerings.
There is no clear-cut answer to the question of which strategy is best – it depends heavily on the specific situation of the company. If you want to opt for an omnichannel approach, you should be able to collect and analyze data across all channels. However, if you’d rather provide more customer service options without having to put in too much effort, multichannel may be a better choice for you. So how best to proceed depends on your individual goals.
The future of customer service lies in the smart, targeted, optimized combination of people and technology. By introducing new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), companies can further improve customer service. These technologies can help improve communication between customers and employees and streamline processes.
It is therefore essential that companies regularly review and develop their customer service strategies – offering the best possible support and avoiding long service times and inefficient processes. This is the only way to win satisfied customers, minimize customer churn and ultimately increase the company’s success.
Andreas Mai – Senior Consultant