„Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers” is the title of a Harvard Business Review article that was published back in 2010. The authors try to get to the bottom of customer loyalty and conclude: “To really win their loyalty, forget the bells and whistles and just solve their problems.” I couldn’t agree more. As an average smartphone and tablet user, I do not expect a “delight” or premium customer experience when it comes to service and support. All I really want is to get my question answered or my problem solved, ideally in an easy, competent and friendly way. This doesn’t sound too complicated, right? But wait…
With each release of a new device model and software version, manufacturers introduce more than 200 new features on average. As users, we simply struggle to understand how we can fully utilize all these new things. At the same time, our dependency on smartphones and tablets increases as we continue to integrate these devices into our daily routines. Think of paying with your smartphone, think of tracking your physical activities – smartphones and other gadgets have become our digital companions, even a digital replication of our lives. What to do if we have a question? Where to go if we can’t get an app to work? Or even worse – who do we contact if the device doesn’t power on or breaks down completely?
A year ago, researchers of Coleman Parkes surveyed 2,900 smartphone users around the world about their service preferences. Their conclusion: People seek instant answers for simple questions and clear guidance how to find help for more complicated issues. An impressive 91% are happy to use online self-service options for the first step of their service journey. The crux of the matter: Half of people have given up on online resources because it doesn’t provide meaningful information or it complicates the process – i.e. instead of engaging people online a lot of companies alienate their customers with their self-service because it just doesn’t provide the information that people expect to find.
This is a bad situation in many ways. Customer who cannot find solutions online will not only be frustrated, they are likely to generate more costly call center interactions. In fact, more than 40 percent of the smartphone users surveyed by Coleman Parkes contacted a call center after they could not find answers to their question via self-service. The analysts suggest that up to 50 percent of so called “How do I..?” calls could be deflected to self-service – or people should have been referred from self-service directly to the nearest service point where highly skilled support agents can provide competent and meaningful answers to customers in a face-to-face dialogue.
Gartner thinks that through 2015, at least 80% of organizations that fail to orchestrate their self-service implementations will incur higher customer service costs and will not achieve the savings and benefits expected. Their conclusion: “When customer self-service/self-care is not associated with differentiation, it cannot be a formidable tool for enhancing services or reaching new audiences via new and emerging channels.”*
With our SMARTCARE frontend solutions, we evolve a complete suite of self-service and assisted support solutions. With these, we try to enable our clients to deliver a consistent and differentiated support experience to their customers. While we create and expand our frontend solutions, we try to adhere to some basic principles that we find essential in order to deliver a great customer experience:
- Less is more: Every touch point like web, app, call center or the store must have a distinct purpose. The features of each touch point must fulfill its purpose. Everything super fluent has to go away because the secret to a good experience isn’t the multiplicity of features on offer but their ability to cater for the purpose (cf. Harvard Business Review, Understanding Customer Experience, Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager, February 2007).
- From departure to destination: Every touch point has a clear departure and destination point, enabling a guided customer journey. We try to avoid unclarity in the beginning of every customer journey in the same way as we try to kill lose ends at the end of a journey. If transitions between touch points are needed, they must be smooth and seamless for the customer.
- Context awareness: The more we know about the customer and the devices being used, the better we can help. Classic CRM functionalities like user sign-in, device and transaction history are invaluable in order to provide context sensitive knowledge and support information at every touch point – in a consistent way and always relevant to the customer.
Please check out our solutions page to explore each solution and the features included, or e-mail me directly.
*Gartner, Inc., Best Practices for Customer Self-Service Framework, Johan Jacobs, February 19, 2013.
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