The 10-Step Digital Customer Service Manifesto

The modern digital consumer has increased power and expectations around how they want customer service delivered. The Digital Banking Report entitled, 'Customer Service in the Digital Age', provides strategies and tactics for organizations wanting to differentiate their customer experience in the digital age.

A customer service revolution is occurring in financial services. It’s dynamic, overarching, and being driven by consumers who are embracing digital and mobile channels as never before. The digital age is changing the way consumers research, shop and buy products and services and how they share their experiences after purchase.

As a result of this transformation, there has never been a time when customer service and the overarching customer experience has been as important as it is today. The rise of digital channels, digital communication, social media, social networks and word-of-mouth across a connected universe gives us a glimpse into the power and potential to solve problems, address complaints proactively, and potentially predict outcomes before they occur.

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In financial services, we have seen the power of these new channels allow the masses to attack the largest organizations in our industry and make them change policies or adjust procedures. On a singular level, consumers have more ways than ever to voice their displeasure.

The key is to create an organization that can leverage digital technology to be responsive (or maybe proactive), empathetic, accessible, connected and human in the hearts, minds, and wallets of your most prized assets – your customers and your employees. But, customer service is just one component of a much broader customer experience imperative that you can leverage to create a superior digital customer relationship.

The 57-page Digital Banking Report, ‘Customer Service in the Digital Age’ provides a guide to providing the best level of customer care in today’s world of online banking, mobile devices and social media. Written in conjunction with Jeanne Capachin, this report includes more than 25 charts, tables and case study illustrations that support tactical advice provided to help move organizations to a new level of customer service.

The topics covered in the Customer Service in the Digital Age report include:

  • 10 Steps to Improved Digital Customer Service
  • Customer Service by the Numbers
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Building the Digital Support Center
  • Ways Firms Fail at Digital Customer Care
  • Digital Support Technologies
  • The Future of Customer Service in Banking

The Digital Customer Service Manifesto

Traditional customer service rules and processes need to be revisited because they don’t apply in today’s digital environment. As opposed to providing call center support during ‘regular business hours,’ today’s digital consumer expects support 24/7/365 using the channel(s) of their choice.

While consumers are increasingly using digital channels such as live chat for customer support, a phone call is still the preferred option for most consumers. According to a PwC survey, the majority of customers (84%) still prefer a live phone call, with 47% having used a combination of digital and traditional service channels, 55% of customers accepting email and 41% percent wanting digital chat.

Protecting your brand in a digital world is simply an extension of the rules of engagement you probably already have in place … just with a more responsive and agile perspective. The top 10 digital customer care rules below are an excerpt from the Digital Banking Report entitled, Customer Service in the Digital Age. They are the foundation for an improved customer experience in the future.

1. Extend Customer Service Beyond ‘Banker’s Hours’

One of the most important rules of digital customer service is that it needs to be always on, 24/7/365. While a case can be made that outsourcing of customer service may not be the optimum solution, it is a way to keep servicing of complaints active after ‘normal’ business hours.

Banker’s hours are part of a bygone era. Customers expect to be able to connect with you when they want to – using the channel of their choice (phone, text, social, email, etc.), and you must be able to return their communication quickly – because problems, errors and complaints occur at all times.

2. Focus on Speed of Response

Regardless of the channel used to connect, customers define a good customer service experience as one that quickly resolves their issues/concerns. The more swiftly the problem is resolved, the better the experience – particularly with the digital consumer.

With the availability of multiple channels, and the potential for contextual and geolocational responses, differentiation may be achieved by proactively responding to potential service or customer care issues.

When a consumer gets into an accident, some cars have the ability to notify emergency personnel automatically. How about their insurance company and bank as well. How impactful would it be for an agent or banker to send an SMS text making sure the customer is OK?

If a customer overdraws their checking account or gets declined for a credit card purchase, a customer service representative can call or text to offer immediate assistance. This is the power of real-time, contextual customer care.

3. Monitor Social and Online Conversations

Social media is being used increasingly to vent complaints. It is also being used by progressive organizations as a response device when customers, members or clients are unhappy.

By using social media monitoring dashboards and a team of social media customer care agents, consumer issues can be resolved before a customer picks up a phone or sends an email. These dashboards can also assist in monitoring mentions of your competitors, proving an opportunity to steal business.

Going even further, some firms are beginning to identify individuals who have word-of-mouth distribution platforms such as a website, blog or podcast or are a community leader. While not more ‘valuable’ than other customers, these consumers have the potential of greater damage (or goodwill) based on how they are handled.

4. Provide a Multichannel Customer Care Experience

According to PwC, consumers believe digital channels are best for more transactional issues and less involved tasks. This includes relatively simple issues such as checking account status and handling website and mobile app issues.

Alternatively, consumers prefer using traditional channels (phone) for issues that affect their pocketbook, such as billing issues/questions, requesting a refund or return, as well as for getting product/service support. The consumer expects support to be consistent even if they change channels in the middle of resolution.

The best way to avoid negative experiences is to invest in technologies that allow consumers to solve low-complexity problems at the point of initial contact.

5. Simplify Mobile-First Options

As of 2014, there are more people using mobile devices than their desktop. Therefore, it is important to provide simple access to all customer care channels using a mobile device.

This may include embedding a customer care number within your mobile app, or could go a step further to provide a direct click-to-talk option. In the future, and as primary mobile devices continue to get larger, many firms may also include a video customer service option through a mobile link.

To support speed of response, the digital consumer will value the use of SMS functionality. This is a more impactful channel than email and can provide links to additional appropriate departments/people.

Finally, responsive design is just as important with customer care as it is with mobile banking solutions. Make sure any digital customer care option works well on any device.

6. Understand the Multiplier Effect of Bad Experiences

Word of mouth is more powerful and prevalent than ever, with social media providing the platform to talk about experiences quickly and repeatedly. According to PwC, those who have a bad experience are inclined to express their displeasure in more ways than those who have a good experience (2.2 actions vs. 1.7 actions).

Nearly one-third of disgruntled respondents will elevate their issue to a higher management level (28%) or write a negative review (27%). In addition, if the problem is resolved satisfactorily, the consumer will reward a positive encounter with a repeat purchase while never purchasing a product/service again after a bad experience.

7. Hire For Tomorrow’s Consumer

The call center of yesterday primarily dealt with English speaking customers concerning a narrow range of financial products and services. Today’s call center must communicate with a diverse customer base that speaks a variety of languages. As a result, you must hire a multilingual staff.

Just as importantly, your team needs to provide technical as well as product support, understanding the devices used to access your services. With the number of device types increasing every day, your team needs technical/device training as much as product training.

8. Leverage Big Data and Remove Silos

There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than to repeat a problem or introduce himself or herself multiple times during a customer care conversation. Every customer touchpoint should have a complete and updated 360 degree view of the customer as well as the issue being resolved.

Real-time updating of the service conversation must occur on all channels.

9. Turn Customer Service Into Revenue Opportunity

There is a time and place for cross-selling, upselling and sales pitches. It is usually not appropriate during service or complaint dialogue unless it positively impacts the customer’s situation.

The key is to upsell your customer on value… not revenue. By better understanding the customer’s current product portfolio and areas of need, the offering of tips, tools, and tutorials can be a powerful accompaniment to the customer support conversation. Done well, this can have the dual benefit of providing solutions to a consumer complaint while increasing share of wallet.

10. Remove Paper

Nothing creates more friction in the digital customer care environment than the presence of paper forms and processes. To effectively become a digital customer service organization, paper documents must be converted to digital so that insight can be more accurately and consistently collected, stored, accessed and measured.

Instead of using new digital technology to better serve our customers, many have seen technology as a way to save/reduce costs. This objective can run counter to the objective of a better customer experience and lead to lower consumer satisfaction.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. It is clear that providing an improved digital customer service option is no longer just an option … it is an imperative.

The Future of Digital Customer Service in Banking

For digital consumers, the expectation of ‘always on’ connectivity is changing the delivery of customer care. When a concern or issue arises, consumers expect to be able to reach your support area the way they want, whenever they want. And they expect the same level of service whether using self-service tools or talking to a service rep by phone, in person or via web chat.

Non-banking organizations such as Apple, Amazon, Southwest and Zappos have raised expectations by creating enhanced experiences designed to delight customers. The consumer expects the same from their bank and credit union.

This places your organization in a position where comparing customer satisfaction scores against the banking industry isn’t enough. You now need to view yourself in the context of the best that consumers see across all brands … traditional, digital, consumer and B2B.

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