An excellent customer experience goes beyond a single service interaction or satisfying a customer. It’s more than the sum of its parts and comprises the overall experience of your customers, which should be consistent from beginning to end. In the second part of our end-of-the-year blog series, we’re addressing the service challenges that the smartphone and IoT industry will continue to face in the coming year.
Gartner has once again confirmed: Customer experience remains the key success factor when it comes to a brand’s long-term evolution. 89 percent of marketers surveyed from companies in various industries think that a perfect customer experience will be the most important unique selling point for the success of their business in 2017 – and also the biggest challenge. Yet, designing a perfect customer experience when it comes to customer care is anything but trivial.
Customer Experience Is a Competitive Advantage – and Challenge
In hardly any other industry is the competition for market share as fierce as in ours. New brands are crowding the market with smartphones and innovative products around the Internet of Things and wearable technology and are trying to differentiate themselves through a perfect customer experience and excellent service. In doing so, nearly all companies face the same challenges: Their internal corporate structure is focused too much on their own products and not enough on customer care and customer needs. In many markets, sales channels are indirect, which means that many mobile brands define their own success not by the quality of their relationship with end customers, but by the successful collaboration with retailers, distributors and mobile network operators.
Through our collaboration with eight of the world’s top ten smartphone brands, we’ve learned a lot about customer care over the past decade. An industry that once saw itself as a supplier of the big network operators was turned upside down within a very short time. Finally, we’ve arrived where every successful consumer brand belongs: at the end customer. The transformation from a B2B-oriented hardware supplier to a B2C-centered consumer brand is far from complete, which is why we’re trying to define the five most important focus areas for a perfect customer experience in 2017.
1. Integrated Multi-Channel Customer Care
As a buzzword, “multi-channel” has been with us for several years already. But consumers are taking this to the next level. Whether by phone, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter or LinkedIn customers expect their questions to be answered by anyone working in the respective organization. Another new dimension is the fact that thanks to new direct channels, company employees are now be personally approached by customers. The new multi-channel experience goes way beyond company-owned channels and companies need to be prepared for this by redesigning the customer experience and ensuring that all employees are prepared. Service is becoming ubiquitous.
2. Big Data Is Good, Small Data Is Better
Big data shows trends and correlations that can be helpful in solving individual customer problems. More important, however, is the specific context of each incident – something that is defined by small data or insights. Many service organizations, for example, now give their contact center agents much more freedom to take an individualized and more empowered approach to customer concerns. Those who approach everything based on large data patterns often forget whom the service is for in the end: a valuable customer with unique expectations and personal needs.
3. Customers Own Your Brand
In a representative study, Groovv found that 95 percent of dissatisfied customers don’t even bother to complain, but the 5 percent that do matter. Even one dissatisfied customer can damage your brand. Just remember United Breaks Guitars. So don’t assume that a low complaint rate is synonymous with high customer satisfaction. Pay attention to the content of each complaint, which is essentially free advice: Nowhere else can you get more information and more honest feedback about the mistakes you make. Use this as an opportunity for improvement.
4. Take Cultural Differences Seriously
Smartphone brands are inclined towards global standardization. But don’t forget that you serve customers in different countries with different cultures and expectations. Most brands work with centralized contact centers, but it’s worthwhile to invest in cross-cultural training and give your agents plenty of space to maneuver. Customer orientation begins with the local language and ends with highly personalized service. Scripts and standardized workflows are a thing of the past. Modern support agents are characterized by a high degree of technical problem-solving capability, personal empathy, empowerment and cultural sensitivity.
5. Go the Extra Mile
Customer satisfaction begins with finding a competent solution to the customer’s problem. But to delight a customer you need to go the extra mile. You should sincerely show your regret through a personal apology letter, or offer a gift for example. Once I took back a shirt to the well-known department store in the US – Nordstrom. Not only did they take back my shirt (without a receipt) with a smile, but also they wrapped up the new one I selected like a birthday gift. This I will never forget and I am still loyal to this store. This is why Nordstrom is America’s favorite fashion retailer. Show your customer how important he or she is to you. In times of big data, self-service and process automation, it’s easy to forget this – but in the end, every customer is an individual, and the only way to create true loyalty is to keep them very happy and not just satisfied.
Summary: A perfect customer experience is based on a healthy mix of technical innovation and personalized service. We help many of the world’s leading smartphone brands implement this – for example, with our SMARTAPP self-help solution or our SMARTBAR solution for personal face-to-face support. Please write to us and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with the latest developments from the mobile market and B2X.
Kimberly Meyer is the Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.