The importance of customer service in the digital age

The importance of customer service in the digital age

Customer service is every interaction with your customer, with technology increasing opportunities for customers to get in touch. Companies are now making progress by using technology and customer behaviour studies to build more seamless, tailored, and simpler customer service solutions.

From past to future

There’s a lot of talk about personalisation and customer insight — that’s because it works. For businesses who seek to grow it is critical to understand the customer’s needs, which will allow the development of more tailored customer services.

The face of customer service has changed: digital prevails over real interaction, customers have more autonomy and control, and help is proactive over reactive. This is how the customer service of the past stacks up against the future:

Levers The past The future
Technology Negatively impacts experience Positively impacts experience
Support Hours 9*5, 5 days a week 24*7
Customer Interaction Company is in control of when and where (or if at all) the interaction happens Customer is in control of where the interaction happens (Social media, mobile, desktop, apps)
Volumes High email volumes High real-time volumes (phone/chat)
Experience Customer repeats information on every interaction/channel Company knows & stores information from every interaction/ channel
Online Help Customer searches for content online Content proactively reaches customer via signals/ triggers
Product fixes Customer initiated Product initiated
Agent infrastructure Agent works in multiple systems Multiple agents work through one system
Budget priority No budget allocation for agent and operational resources Dedicated branch with budget allocation (often from marketing)

No matter the size of your business, good customer service needs to be at the heart of your business model if you wish to grow.

Although it can take extra resources, time and money, good customer service leads to customer satisfaction which keeps your customers loyal, generates positive word-of-mouth, and encourages repeat business.

Client satisfaction also directly influences the working environment of business organisations. If your company develops a bad reputation, your top performers may be discouraged to stay, leading to increased attrition, mistakes and customer complaints.

The perks of good customer service

There are five customer support statistics to make customer service technology the priority of your business:

1. It’s what your customers remember

Bad customer service is a key driver of churn. Keeping your customer happy means they are more likely to continue to back the brand and not shift to competitors. As customer retention is far cheaper than customer acquisition, this is a big plus point.

40% of customers begin purchasing from a competitor because of their reputation for great customer service. (Zendesk) 82% felt that their service provider could have done something to prevent them from switching (Accenture).

2. Word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising that money can't buy

When your customers have a good experience, they talk about you to others. Unhappy and angry customers can generate damaging word of mouth, affecting profitability and reputation.

95% of customers share bad experiences with others 87% of customers share good experiences with others (Zendesk).

3. It’s a source of sustainable competitive advantage

Since customer service is often the only contact a customer has with a company, it can be the deciding factor for a customer to make a purchase. For example, it is difficult to tell the difference between two small-town medicine stores, especially if their prices are similar. Putting extra efforts into customer service may be the differentiating factor for customers to go back to one drug store over the other.

77% expect to maintain or grow the size of their customer service team during the next 12-24 months. (Deloitte) 63% of companies expect to spend more on customer experience (Temkin).

4. To customers, good service is more important than price

With excellent customer service seeming more and more rare these days, customers are willing to pay a premium for it. Deliver on that desire, and your customers will be happy to pay higher prices.

70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated (McKinsey) 86% are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience (RightNow).

5. Good customer service reduces problems

Issues are always going to arise for any business, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. While you can’t run a perfect business you can ensure your customers are well-informed and looked after. If customers know they can voice complaints and issues will be handled properly, they will feel more comfortable doing business with you.

73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps can make them fall in love with a brand (RightNow).

Customer service can make or break a brand’s reputation, having knock-on consequences for staff satisfaction and your bottom line: so getting it right is of paramount importance.