People are losing patience with bad customer service. We’ve all experienced frustrating customer service support as consumers: long wait times, understaffed call centers, difficulty getting questions answered, and much more. Even more, since the pandemic, with so many customer interactions being redirected through digital channels, people are having to do more self-service and interact with automated menus and chatbots. Customers now have higher expectations for the customer service experience, and the frustration is reaching a boiling point.
Â Why does the customer service experience so often feel like a battle of company vs. customer? One big reason: customer service is often an afterthoughtâ€¦ something that’s necessary, but that tends to get treated like an overhead cost. It often is one of the first areas looked at as an opportunity for cost reduction: â€œour call center volume is down, so let’s reduce our headcount of support agents.â€Â
Â But instead of a cost to be managed, what if customer service could be turned into a positive revenue generation opportunity and a way to create an enduring competitive advantage?
Let’s take a closer look at how customer service, when done correctly, can drive revenue for your business by transforming customers into raving brand evangelists that shout your praises from the rooftops.
Customer Service Can Drive Customers Away or Boost Their Loyalty
Let’s take a step into your customers’ shoes for a moment. It can feel incredibly vulnerable for your customer to be in a position where they need to contact support. If your customer service experience is making already-stressed customers feel even more confused, ignored, or antagonized, you are missing a chance to solve a problem. Simultaneously, you might be about to lose customers and potentially even take a blow to your reputation as they tell their peers about their bad experience. A Nextiva survey found that one-third of customersOpens a new window are willing to think about taking their business elsewhere after the first occurrence of bad service.
Â But what if customer service could not just be a form of damage control but become a driving force to increase customer loyalty? Survey data from HubSpot finds that 93% of customersOpens a new window said they are more likely to make repeat purchases from companies that provide outstanding customer service.
Â Think about your customer acquisition costs and marketing budget. With all the money your company spends to find, onboard, and retain customers, you should look for proactive ways to turn your customer service operation into a driver of customer loyalty and recurring revenue.
Â Where to start? Your mobile app.
Mobile App: The Center of Customer Service
It’s time to adopt an â€œapp-centricâ€ strategy for customer service. Your mobile app should be the central hub and â€œheadquartersâ€ of your customer support and customer service operations. If customers are using your app, that’s a great sign that you already have a strong relationship with them and can easily access verifiable, secure customer data.
If people have downloaded your app, that’s a positive sign that they care about your product or service and want to have a deeper relationship with your company. Meet them on their terms in the app, and make the app the center of your customer interaction. Have the forethought to design your customer support to be ready when the user is, meet customers in the app, and make it accessible 24/7 from any location.
Â It can take trust and a love for the product for a user to be willing to download your app in the first place. Once you’ve got them there, the last thing you should even think about doing is driving customers away from your app. Many companies make the mistake of rerouting customer service inquiries away from the mobile app and into other channels, such as phone, email, website, or even social media messaging (where they will get advertised to by your competitors). By taking the customer service conversation away from the app, you lose context, disrupt the customer experience, and undo the secure identity validation that had been completed in the app.
Â If customers cannot continue their customer service inquiries within the app, they are likely to feel frustrated; and this inconvenience gets compounded if their inquiries are not kept on record. They don’t want to fall through the cracks by getting shuffled from the app to the call center and back. They don’t want to have to re-enter information or re-explain their situation to multiple departments and teams.
In-app Customer Service Is Faster and Customer-focused
When customers have an issue, they want to solve it as quickly as possible, ideally with self-service, before they have to spend time waiting on hold or hoping for a callback. In-app customer service can deliver a faster, more precise customer service experience.Â Â
Â Here are a few ways that in-app customer service can solve these needs:
- Provide access to self-service resources (such as FAQs, troubleshooting documents, and directions on how to solve frequently encountered challenges)Â Â
- Automated chatbots within the app that feature AI-driven intents and machine learning to understand the customers’ inquiries and guide them to resolution without the need for human interaction
- Help customers resolve their issues quickly and seamlessly with minimal disruption to whatever they were doing within the app.
If your mobile app is well-designed, customers should be able to find what they need and be guided through an intuitive journey of self-service, entirely contained within the app. This turns your app into a vehicle for enhancing customer loyalty by giving them convenience â€” the resources they need to solve problems and answer their own questions quickly. This conserves customer service agent bandwidth, reserving it for more complex, high-intensity inquiries that require human interaction.
Â Automation for In-app Customer Service
Automation is not a magic wand. You can’t just provide chatbots or deploy algorithms and hope your customer service will emerge with better results.
If you want to adopt automated customer service solutions, you need to think strategically about how you want the automated solutions to interface with customers, what the customer journey is for each solution, and how to use automation in a targeted way to improve the customer’s situation.
Â Here is how to think about automation for customer service:
- Know your customer’s starting point: Think about what your customers are doing and where they are encountering difficulty in each customer service journey. Automation can help you identify the issues that customers are having and then create step-by-step directions to guide the customers from that starting point.
- Differentiate the type of customer service issue: where in your operations are your customers experiencing issues or having questions? Account issues, payment issues, performance issues, or gameplay issues all require different responses and resolution services.
- Choose your chatbots wisely: Not every chatbot on the market can deliver the same level of high-quality interactions. Look for chatbots that use the latest AI-driven intents and machine learning technology to really â€œlistenâ€ to your customers, understand what they need, and provide an intuitive and effortless experience for self-service inquiries.Â
You can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to automation for customer service. Think strategically about how to align your responses and resolution services with each customer’s unique needs and pain points.
Companies have an opportunity to put customer service at the center of their app experience and turn customer service from a â€œcostâ€ to a â€œrevenue generator.â€ Think strategically about how to design customer service journeys for each unique customer situation. Use automation as an extension of your human interactions. Keep the customer service conversation within the app, and you’ll be better positioned to solve the customer’s problem at the source.