by John Seeds and Karl Phenix
It’s not news to anyone that your customers demand excellent experiences across all channels of communication. Why? Because technology has placed instant gratification at the literal fingertips of your customers, and they expect you to embrace it, especially when it comes to customer service.
Research from Nuance Enterprise shows that more than 75% of people believe that self-service via customer service portals is convenient and 91% said they would use web portals if they were available and personalized to their specific needs. But not surprisingly, 45% of customers find web self-service portals difficult to use.
So, what can savvy businesses do to build customer self-service web portals that are easy to use and deliver exceptional customer experiences?
Create a Consistent Brand Experience Across All Communication Channels
You’ve undoubtedly had this experience: you buy a product online but decide to return it. You go to the brand website, log into your account, and almost immediately wonder if you’re still on the right website? It’s a disorientating and frustrating online experience.
It’s easy to build a self-service web portal that answers questions. But it’s harder to build a web portal for customer service that delivers an exceptional, on-brand experience. In the planning stage, ask yourself how your brand promises to be different and how your web portal will deliver on that promise. Be sure that your portal echoes your key messaging, and that the information found on the portal is the exact same information found in any other channel.
Collaborate with Your Customers
The functionality you offer on your portal directly impacts its usefulness to customers. Carefully plan before you start building. Go beyond customer personas. Talk to your customers directly or create customer surveys that collect information about the “moments of truth” in your customer experience journey. What tasks are most important to them? How do they want you to personalize the information you provide? How do they prefer to communicate, email, chat, or text?
Research from IBM suggests that by 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions will be handled by a ‘non-human.’ What do your customers need to feel connected to your brand?
Remember that your customers’ needs, and desires will change often. When they do, even the best laid plans can quickly become obsolete. You must be flexible and adapt quickly to these evolving needs and expectations.
But how do you track these changes? Customer portals serve a dual purpose. They can also be a listening device providing information on the issues or concerns most commonly encountered by your customers. Tracking customer experience focused KPIs such as portal usage, searches or FAQ views, can help to identify common roadblocks.
Video and Multimedia Can Deliver Exceptional Customer Service
Static content is swiftly declining as a preferred communication method. Today’s consumer expects a mix of copy, video and even interactive communication when using your portal. Why? Because it doesn’t force them to read lengthy text answers, documentation, or sit on hold with a call service representative.
How-to videos and FAQ videos can deliver fast, easy answers to popular customer service questions. Video chat offers the humanized and personalized interaction that many customers need in order to feel that their service expectations have been met. For more complex answers or lengthy customer support tutorials, on-demand video training or webinars offer an alternative to lengthy documentation downloads, and they offer customers a glimpse of the brand personality.
Don’t Ignore the Mobile Customer Service Experience
It almost goes without saying that your customer portal must be optimized for a mobile customer experience, but we’ll say it anyway. Whether you create a mobile app or optimize for a mobile site, you must take action to provide an effective experience to smartphone and tablet users on-the-go.
What if your customers don’t need all of the features and functionality of the desktop self-service experience on a phone or tablet? Think through the mobile customer support experience for your customers. What information do your customers need when they are on the go? Would it be better for your customers to develop a mobile app that only has those features and functionality? How can you use mobile push notifications or SMS text messaging to create real-time interactions with your customers?
Talk to Avtex
Expectations of your customers are growing every day. Delivering excellent customer service has been replaced with the requirement of delivering exceptional customer service. Self-service web portals are a great way to improve the service experience, create loyal customers, and deliver on the brand promise.