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4 Ways to Provide Better Customer Service in the Digital Age

09/13/2015 08:09 EDT | Updated 09/13/2016 05:12 EDT
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Like the weather, the state of our hockey teams and the price of gas, Canadians love to complain about bad customer service. In fact, a recent research report from consulting firm Accenture found that 74 per cent of Canadian consumers are prepared to share their poor customer experience stories with their friends.

Twenty years ago, that might have meant griping over the phone or telling the tale over dinner. Today, that sharing can spread far and wide in the moment it happens over a myriad of social channels -- with photos to add flair.

Businesses are taking note, not simply so they can provide good service, but so they can give customers the right service. What does this mean? According to Salesforce's 2015 State of Service Report, recently released, it means providing service on the customer's terms, whenever they need it, in the digital channels they are inhabiting.

The research, which includes responses from full-time global service leaders from Canada, the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, found four takeaways for companies of all sizes to consider when it comes to customer service.

Look at service from an omni-channel perspective

Now, more than ever, it's critical to connect with customers wherever they are, across email, mobile apps and social networks, not to mention across the counter. This isn't a "nice to have," it's the new normal, and customers are demanding it. That is why 56 per cent of the leaders surveyed are providing or plan to provide service, support, or both via a mobile app for customer use within the next two years.

Empower the front line

Bouncing up a chain of command to get a question answered or a problem resolved rarely ends with a happy customer. Providing customer service agents with easy access to the information they need and the power to quickly resolve issues sets the stage for more efficient -- and satisfying -- customer interactions. This means making sure you've got the right tools in place, like Salesforce's Service Cloud Lightning Console and trusting your staff enough to use them properly.

Shift the customer service mindset from reactive to proactive

The research found that 55 per cent of high-performing service teams are now able to predict customer service needs more than 80 per cent of the time thanks to emerging smart technologies. These technologies help companies collect actionable insights, anticipate customer needs and provide everything from more efficient call routing to faster case history access.

Recognize that great service has many definitions

More than a third (34 per cent) of Millennials say they'd rather get their teeth cleaned at the dentist than call a customer service line, which is why it's important to incorporate a self-service option into your service mix. Giving customers the right tools to find their own answers quickly and efficiently can go a long way.

The good news is that tales of great service spread, too. While people are ready to dish dirt about companies, on average, Canadian consumers tell eight people about their good customer service experiences. Perhaps more importantly, they're willing to spend, on average, 12 per cent more with a company that provides good service.

Whether it's in person, on the phone or online, ensuring you offer a consistently smooth customer service experience will not only keep your customers happy, but more importantly, keep your business thriving. That's reason enough to take your company's service to the next level.

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