Your customers aren’t who they used to be. We all have changed under the weight of digital developments, new communication channels and the reliance upon the internet. Customer experience is drastically changing. You’re dealing with the ‘cyber customer’ now: a sophisticated and informed buyer, influencer and potential advocate for brands.
Their needs? Real-time, proactive, interactive and personalised services through a variety of channels. The challenge revolves around capturing the customer’s interest and initiating engagement at the most appropriate times. This can be achieved by adopting three key strategies:
1. Leverage proactive engagement
Proactive engagement is about companies turning the table to change the rules of the game to their favour. You must anticipate customers’ needs, focus on areas of the online domain with the highest traffic and online conversion, and carefully choose the best moments to offer service or sales assistance.
This includes instigating online chat with customers who are hesitant to make a purchase and engaging with those who are struggling to find a product or solution. Support staff can utilise a variety of channels to do this, such as inserting customer help buttons that appear based on browser behaviour and implementing click-to-talk functions.
The emergence of the cyber customer has made it crucial for companies to staff their online floors with tech-savvy, highly-skilled and knowledgeable product advocates. Providing customers with the right information at the right moment is vital to strengthening relationships and driving sales.
2. Steadily grow the social position
Context is vital online. In addition to understanding how customers use social media, you must first gauge how their participation in these channels will be received. Tracking the competitive landscape and monitoring customer feedback are key tools you should utilise before you engage with consumers. This way, questions and complaints can be analysed to identify trends and build brand affinity, turning channels like Twitter and Facebook into valuable lead generation engines.
Engaging with customers online can be a great instrument for meeting customer needs and completing transactions. However, it’s important that each customer service department should have a well defined social policy and strategy defining rules for engaging online to maintain consistency.
3. Refine presence
Your customers (and probably yourself) are already embedded in all kinds of social networks. Getting your business involved is no longer optional. Some 900m active Facebook users, 150m LinkedIn users, more than 4bn YouTube video views per day, and over 400m tweets a day – your customer base is under your nose, accessible through getting involved.
Some 20 per cent of tweets include product or brand references, influencing both sales and corporate reputation.
Successfully harnessing online channels requires a carefully laid out strategy. This must involve a thoughtful approach toward picking the most appropriate channels, tools and methods for engagement. Companies must start small, and build on one-on-one relationships by growing a follower base and creating expert communities to offer product support and troubleshooting solutions, maximising the efficiency of agent resources. The emergence of the cyber customer has brought about the need for a more proactive and collaborative model of customer service.
Joe Doyle is the vice president of global marketing at Sitel.
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