A good Customer Service improves the quality of the relationship between brand and consumer, increasing customer satisfaction and building customer loyalty.
As we saw in the first article on CX, the definition given by the Customer Experience Excellence Centre of KPMG is “the sum of the experiences, sensations, emotions and memories that a customer has when interacting with brands. Creating memorable shopping experiences that stick in the consumer’s mind and influence their future behaviour means for brands to develop a sustainable competitive advantage”.
We have also outlined the main characteristics of the Customer Experience, analysing some cases of global and Italian excellence that can be taken as examples.
But, concretely, how does one implement a good CX strategy?
Every single element of the customer journey must be structured to increase customer satisfaction, starting with the most important: customer service.
Customer service: what is it?
Customer service is the assistance service provided by the company with the aim of guaranteeing customers a high degree of satisfaction throughout the entire buying process, divided mainly into two phases of approach to the product/service:
consumers may have questions before completing the purchase (and answering these questions means facilitating the final purchase of the good by the customer);
customers may express the need to integrate information available to them once the purchase has been completed. Answering these questions means allowing the users to enjoy the product in the best possible way, guaranteeing its maximum performance.
The concept of customer service has evolved over time. Before digitalisation, services played a secondary role to products and, consequently, the whole customer journey was more linked to tangible goods.
Subsequently, however, there has been a growing phenomenon of ‘servitisation‘, i.e. the process whereby a company that produces and sells goods or products transforms these into the sale of services.
This process is also influenced by the historical period: in times of uncertainty, such as an economic crisis or a global pandemic, people resort less to buying durable goods in favour of services that bind the customer less and lead him to limit his expenditure to usage.
As a result of this, the relationship between company and customer has also undergone a change, giving importance to aspects such as relationship, interaction, experience, understood as the complex of sensory, rational and emotional reactions and sensations that a certain encounter or exchange arouses.
Customer care thus becomes an essential aspect, and the concept of customer experience is increasingly gaining ground, as part of which a broader strategy relating to the entire customer journey can be implemented.
Customer service: characteristics
To function at its best, customer service must be based on certain fundamental characteristics which, if used within one’s own strategy, can make the difference.
Let’s look at some of them:
speed: a rapid response denotes reliability and availability, encouraging customers to make a purchase. Otherwise, a lack of response can lead to suspend the purchase intention while waiting for clarification, a period of time in which consumers can change their minds;
clarity: it is important to be clear, both in terms of the content of the response, which to be effective must be exhaustive and resolve the customer’s problem, and in terms of timing. In fact, customers must be informed of the response time and this must be respected;
personalisation: as we saw in the last article, personalisation is one of the 6 pillars of good CX. Customers must feel that they are important to the company: this is achieved by paying attention to details such as, for example, calling them by name and having a history of previous requests;
automation: technology offers many tools based on artificial intelligence that allow to automate some internal processes in customer service. In this way operators can save time, which can be used to offer a more precise and punctual service, also reducing costs.
Improve customer service with Knowledge Management
Customer service is the basis of any good customer experience policy. But sometimes it is difficult to establish a strategy because information within companies is difficult to access and chaotically organised.
This is why knowledge management is a valuable partner for improving customer service.
There are three main focal points for good customer service: let’s see how they can be transformed (and improved) with Knowledge Management.
1. Speed and easy access to information
One of the fundamental aspects of Customer Service is the possibility for customers to easily access information they are looking for, without spending time and effort searching for hidden pages or waiting to contact an operator.
Selfcare, i.e. ‘do-it-yourself’ information search, is now preferred to traditional call centres. With this in mind, knowledge base softwares built on Artificial Intelligence are the tools that are gradually gaining ground.
They guarantee instant access, 24-hour availability and ease of use, thanks to conversational interfaces in natural language. Consumers can use them as a search engine on the entire content of the website, to obtain official and verified information.
The information pool that the software draws on to respond to users is built on the company’s Knowledge Base. For this reason, behind the creation of the conversational interfaces there must be a Knowledge Management platform, which allows the company to manage and update the contents of the site automatically.
2. Efficiency and relevance of responses
From information requests to after-sales service, it is essential that customers receive uniform answers to similar questions, even if they are asked in different ways through different company channels.
For this to happen, it is necessary that all those involved in the customer relationship have efficient and rapid access to information. This second aspect is really crucial and it is here that having a well-constructed Knowledge Management system can make the difference.
Once queried, the conversational interface based on the Knowledge Base must retrieve the most relevant content to what is being searched for. In this way customers can obtain information even with a do-it-yourself search, while the Customer Service operators can speed up the search for answers in manuals and product sheets, increasing their productivity.
3. Level of empathy in the customer relationship
Empathy on the part of the company is fundamental to involve customers emotionally and deeply in the relationship with the brand.
Knowledge Management solutions make it possible to create documentation within a platform, ensuring that knowledge is immediately available to the entire company. You can import welcome or goodbye formulas, as well as suggestions for handling a particularly tricky situation.
All best-practices for carrying out particular procedures can be saved and shared with colleagues, avoiding the dispersion of valuable tacit knowledge.
Multi-level knowledge sharing represents an optimisation of resources and therefore a competitive advantage. Customer service operators thus reduce the time it takes to resolve queries and improve human contact with users.