Learn everything you need to know about Conversational Customer Engagement Software right here!

Customer service is a real competitive advantage. Get it right, and your efforts will translate straight to your bottom line. Today, gold-standard customer service is characterized by Customer Friendship — meaningful, continuous dialogue, made possible by Conversational Customer Engagement Software.

Whether a customer is buying a big ticket item or a small, everyday convenience, their decision to invest in a brand or product requires a degree of trust. A trust which can be bolstered, or broken, in the customer experience (CX).

Problem is, companies are failing to deliver the trustworthiness that shoppers desire; in fact, only 34% of consumers say they trust most of the brands they buy.

So how can we improve customer service to foster trustworthy relationships with existing and potential buyers? It’s time for brands to stop treating their customers as data fields in a CRM system — and start talking to them like friends.

It’s not enough to roll out faceless chatbots or auto-Tweet vague, reactive replies to customer inquiries. Instead, Conversational Customer Engagement Software gives brands the opportunity to nurture close, meaningful relationships with customers resulting in greater customer loyalty, positive brand perception and, ultimately, a better bottom line.

Customer Friendship is how you build and maintain better customer relationships

What would you do if a friend came to you because the gift you sent them had gotten lost in the mail? You probably wouldn’t deflect, or put them on hold for 15 minutes, or needlessly pass them to someone else.

You would almost certainly be there for them as quickly as possible. You’d ask them the right questions, with an appropriate degree of empathy, to help first calm their nerves. Then, together, you could work towards the best possible solution.

That’s what friends are for, after all.

It should be no different when it comes to customer service. No matter if you’re helping trouble-shoot a complaint, or answer a product related question, customer service agents should be able to communicate with shoppers on a human level. And that doesn’t just mean ‘service with a smile’ — Customer Friendship is about so much more than a chatty tone of voice. It’s about having the best practices in place to streamline customer management and unify all your communication channels.

Unsure if your current customer service approach helps create Customer Friendship between agents and customers? Take a good look at your customer service processes surrounding your customer journey, and ask yourself: “Would I do this to a friend?”

It’s possible, especially the nature of most customer service software, that the answer may be no.

In today’s tech-centered world, there are plenty of opportunities to deliver on Customer Friendship

Brands and customers increasingly share the same space, day in and day out.

Where once a customer encountered a brand only when they picked up a magazine, or turned on their television, now companies from all industries are nestled next to their sister’s Facebook update, or their neighbor’s cute dog on Instagram.

Consumers can even use voice search to make a purchase while standing in their kitchen or lying in bed. All they have to do is simply give their digital home assistant the go-ahead.

So whether it’s through social media, via Alexa and Cortana, or even new direct-to-consumer solutions, consumers are letting brands into their personal space via technology.

For businesses, this represents a significant commercial opportunity and unparalleled scope to strengthen customer relationships.

Technology has been a primary influence on the changing face of customer service over the last twenty years. In the ‘Contact Center Age’ of the late 90s and 00s, the technology simply didn’t exist to consolidate a brand’s disconnected channels, so each system required a dedicated work stream, manually supported by individual service agents.

Even as email became the main channel for customer service and engagement in the ‘Ticketing Age’ of 2008-2018,  this method of communication was too reactive.  Ticketing doesn’t support the notion of continuous conversation between customers and brands, which Customer Friendship requires. Instead, it reduced customers to a number, which agents are rewarded for closing as fast as possible.

The Evolution of Customer Service & Engagement

But today, the ‘Conversational Age’ is transforming CX putting Customer Friendship at the very heart.

Nowadays technology is able to support truly proactive and conversation-based customer experiences.

And while technology can make it tempting to delegate customer service to automated solutions — this won’t breed the person-to-person trust world-class customer service demands. Instead, AI, machine learning and data generation all have their place within the Customer Friendship strategy — helping power better conversations.

How do you achieve Conversational Customer Engagement?

Here's three key things to understand:

In today’s Conversational Age, great CX is an essential part of supporting a happy, ongoing relationship between brands and customers.

So how do you do it? There are three key parameters, for getting Customer Friendship right...

1.It’s not about using technology for technology’s sake

There’s no shortage of examples out there, illustrating what happens when well-intended customer service goes wrong. From poorly automated Twitter responses, to that Target pregnancy reveal, it goes to show that technology shouldn’t be applied, just for technology’s sake.

Instead, think about the valid role that new digital solutions can play in your customer service. If it’s not bringing you closer to your customers, or helping conversations flow more freely, then it’s not doing its job.

2. Every piece of communication needs to be genuine and useful

However you approach Conversational Customer Engagement, it needs to reinforce authentic, meaningful and useful conversations with your customers.

This means ensuring your efforts are of genuine use to your customer base. After all, this friendly tone of voice can quickly backfire if it’s felt to be a disingenuous sales tactic — interestingly, a customer survey found that 78% had a negative reaction to an overly casual tone, when the customer service agent was denying their request.

Ensuring the tone of voice is genuine is one part of the picture, but technology plays an important role here, too. Companies should be very wary of over automating because what may seem like a useful, time-saving customer service tool may end up feeling like deflection for the customer.

Truth is, it’s better to leave a message unanswered for slightly longer, to give you time to craft an authentic, meaningful and useful response, than firing a quick response that doesn’t completely solve the customer’s issue.

Instead, focus on implementing intelligent features like smart routing, which automatically puts the customer in contact with the best suited agent for their inquiry without requiring any manual dispatching efforts from managers. Additionally, make sure your customer service software supports customer recognition too, displaying previously collected data the second a customer reaches out so you know who you are talking to, where they are in their customer journey and the potential context of why they are reaching out to you.

3. You prioritize friendship at every stage of the customer journey

Studies show that human friendships are reliant on a key set of criteria — similarity, attractiveness, love, support, problem solving and emotional intelligence. Keep in mind, these traits need to be developed over a long period of time. Friendships aren’t forged overnight; in fact, it takes 200 hours on average for two individuals to become close friends.

The same can be said for the relationship between a brand and their customer — the day-to-day CX needs to continually reinforce friendly characteristics, to create Customer Friendship.

Let’s look at how that might play out, at each stage of the customer journey:

Awareness: great customer service starts as soon as a shopper comes into contact with your brand, whether that’s online, in-store, on social media, or through word of mouth. How you immediately demonstrate your attractiveness and shared interest, as well as the ability, and desire, to deliver trustworthy customer support will persuade a potential buyer to consider your product. Here, integrating your channels means no matter where a customer first comes across your brand, you’ll be there to talk to them.

Consideration: once you are into the customer’s thought process, you need to make it as simple as possible for them to make a purchase. Lack of friction is important here in order to show you understand and empathize with the customer’s needs. Make sure to display emotional intelligence and support, give them all the information they need and don’t ask for too much in return. Your business should be available in whatever channels make sense for your customer: Phone, email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, etc. Make it easy and keep it authentic.

Purchase: now that this individual has put their trust in you, you need to deliver. This means their purchase must arrive on time, live up to (or even better, exceed) their expectations, and illustrate how much you appreciate them as a customer. At this stage, if the customer doesn’t love your product and your service, you’ll have a hard time winning them back. If at any point they need to ask a question about their order, you need to be at-hand, with full background knowledge of their history to help (think name, recent orders, tracking, previous conversations, etc.).

Retention: the post-purchase stages of the customer journey are just as important as the earlier stages. This is where delivering great customer service consistently really moves front and center. If a company can perform outstanding problem solving and efficiently troubleshoot any customer issues or inquiries, as well as support a happy, ongoing relationship, it will result in customer loyalty. Remember, it’s far more economical to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one, so use technology to keep adding value.

Advocacy: now that this customer loves you, you want them to share the love with other people. Customer service in the way of personalized engagement and human-centric, omnichannel communication, is what will keep you top of mind and in favor with your most loyal customers.

If at any stage of the journey, the use of technology is diluting the quality of your customer service, then it’s not helping you deliver Customer Friendship (or grow your business).

It’s never too late to redesign your customer service experience. And, considering it takes as many as 12 good experiences to make up for a disappointing one, even if your CX is hitting the mark most of the time, there’s definitely still room for improvement.

Learn more about Dixa

The Customer Friendship Platform that helps you deliver gold-standard CX every single day

True friendships stand the test of time. With Dixa, your CX can do the same — no matter how long it’s been, our powerful platform, smart routing and customer recognition technology will enable your agents to always deliver the best possible customer service.

By breaking down the silos in your current customer service process and unifying email, live chat, phone systems and messaging apps our Customer Friendship software empowers your staff to have centralized, continuous conversations with customers — so your company never misses an opportunity to deliver value.

No one wants to be treated as a number in a CRM system. So do away with ‘tickets’ and transactional customer service, and help usher in the age of Customer Friendship to your business. Because if you do, your customer loyalty will increase; boosting sales and bringing in new business through referrals and recommendations.
Eliminate bad customer service for good. Get in touch with Dixa today to try our platform for yourself.