While price will likely be a decision-making factor for consumers, customer care is quickly climbing the ranks.
Providing customer service alone isn’t enough. For one, customer service is reactive and the connected consumer expects a rewarding experience at every turn.
Secondly, customer care efforts must be proactive to create a loyal customer base.
Here’s how to make customer support a top priority and futureproof your brand or business.
Customer Experience & Engagement
Many recent marketing reports and research shine a light on customer engagement.
Similarly, another buzzword for customer service or customer care was coined as “customer experience” (CX).
With the internet, social media sites, and smartphones, customers expect a good experience at every touchpoint. It doesn’t matter if you “aren’t that good at Twitter” — if your customer reaches out there, they presume they’ll get a response.
Convince and Convert defines customer experience as the following:
“Simply put, customer experience is the combined interactions a customer has with your brand. It looks at the lifecycle of the customer, mapping each and every touchpoint the customer has with you. It highlights where you’re delivering an exceptional experience, building loyalty and advocacy. And where you’re delivering a poor experience, driving your customers to competitors.”
Today, brands must rework their digital strategies to ensure customer engagement and care are top priorities.
But where to start?!
Preparing For Customer Expectations
To start, you have to ask yourself this question …
“What will my customers demand?”
Arguably, the answer is EVERYTHING.
As research from the Walker report, Customers 2020, shows …
- Customers expect a personalized experience
- Immediate gratification is not fast enough
- Consumers will communicate with you through their preferred method (not yours)
Effectively, to compete in 2020, you must know your customers inside and out. You also must meet them where they are.
The ways in which customers or consumers reach a brand are ever-growing. It’s your job to understand which channels are used the most by your audience(s) and adapt quickly to be present there.
To adequately apply customer care, your customer support functions must move past “one size fits all” and find ways to be more proactive.
Being Proactive With Customer Care
I’ve outlined how customer service is different from customer care previously.
Customer service, while responsive, is passive since customer service reps are usually only responding when a brand or company is mentioned.
With customer care, companies strive to be proactive in their approach by providing ways in which their customers can start conversations previous to purchasing.
Five Ways To Be Proactive …
- Answer all inquiries (and quickly!)
- Recognize recurring customers
- Reward compliments
- Offer self-service options and education
- Understand customer sentiment
Clearly, customer care and service professionals will see their role change in the coming years.
Additionally, they’ll need intelligent tools to help them understand their customers inside-out.
Intelligent Tools Lead To Smarter Strategies
It’s overwhelming to think of each place customer data lives today. The two biggest issues we hear from clients are …
- It’s difficult to track/collect all data points
- Customer support teams are unsure of how to use data to plan for the future
Frankly, using customer care data for future planning is a much longer conversation. However, there are SO many places you can look to collect customer data points.
Here are just a few to consider …
- Your website
- Call center or support desk
- Point-of-sale or purchase history
- Social media channels
- Owned online communities
- Social listening or sentiment tools
Above all, you need a plan in place for collecting data, storing it, analyzing it, and taking action with your findings.
The Future Of Customer Care
Admittedly, moving from customer service to customer care will require new skills (and people) to achieve success.
Consequently, we’re seeing a lot of work coming our way with outsourced customer care. But this doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own.
Remember, there is no “one size fits all” answer. Your customer care team should be customized based on things like your company’s size, business goals, and your specific customer needs.
In short, brands and businesses need to provide customer support that’s more customer-centric, uses intelligent tools, and is customized and personalized for their unique base of buyers.
How have you started to adapt your customer support services to include customer care? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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