Social media has changed the relationship between consumers and brands by creating a level playing field built on two-way communication. Add to that, the fact that an individual’s message can carry as much weight and reach as big an audience as any company’s, and we begin to see the impact this can have, particularly where customer service issues are concerned. Recently brands like United Airlines and British Airways have experienced these situations firsthand, when one customer’s bad experience can get shared on YouTube or Twitter and quickly turn into a PR disaster, the likes of which just weren’t possible before.
With so many channels now available to customers looking voice their concerns, report issues or seek help, organizations have had to expand their offerings to keep pace. By adopting mobile and social tools alongside better practices, companies can become more responsive, delivering customer service when and where assistance is needed. Giving customers access to on-demand support is a trend from PSFK Labs‘ Future of Retail report that we’re calling Multichannel Customer Service.
Customers who lead busy lives, don’t want the extra hassle of finding out how to get in touch with a retailer or brand, especially when they’re already inconvenienced by service issue. A recent survey from Harris Interactive noted that 86% of US adults expect brands to offer multiple options and flexible timing to interact with customer service. Furthermore, the survey found that 63% of US adults indicated that brands that don’t offer options for communication other than the 1-800 number seem outdated or old fashioned.
Brands leaders are quickly learning the value of connecting with consumers wherever they are, rather than the platforms traditionally used to address service concerns. Scott Monty, Ford’s Global Head of Social Media notes that they companies should “Embrace the platforms your audience is using, not the ones you’re comfortable with.” Additionally, Ex-Burberry CEO and Apple’s newly named Head of Retail, Angela Ahrendts, expresses her interest in meeting consumers as quickly as possible; “As soon as the customer says something about the Burberry brand we should be able to hear it. So if they tweet something negative or positive our teams pick up on that and should be able to have a dialogue with them in real time, that’s the ultimate in customer service.”
The ability to expand the number of human interactions your customers can expect from you is invaluable. PSFK Labs‘ Director, Scott Lachut, reminds companies that “Communication has evolved beyond face-to-face conversations and phone calls. Take advantage of the new channels your shoppers are already using to connect them with a real person who can offer the service they need.”
For companies looking to provide proactive customer service across channels, we recommend they ask the following questions as they build their strategies:
- What new service channels should you focus on and how does this impact staffing?
- Do you need to update our social media policies to provide service on these channels?
- How do these new platforms impact the way you hire and train our associates?
- How do you track and measure customer satisfaction through these channels?
- How can you build on existing customer behaviors to deliver customer service in new and unexpected ways?
- How can multimedia and collaborative interactions be leveraged to enable a better level of remote service?
- How are you connecting with customers and maintaining awareness of service availability across channels?
- What consumer pain points could you solve by offering on-demand service before customers have negative impressions?
In the fourth edition of the Future of Retail Report, PSFK Labs brings together two interconnected themes and eleven key trends that provide a foundation for the modern shopping experience. The findings are brought to life with best-in-class examples, actionable strategies and leading questions to inspire leading retailers and brands. Join us at our San Francisco conference on Nov. 21st where talks from retail innovators will bring the key themes to life.
Contributed by: Wesley Robison