by George Demou
The modern consumer has come to expect much from your organization, including that help or guidance will be available to them, wherever and whenever they need it. Today’s customers also expect the ability to resolve issues or obtain information independently.
What do these changing expectations mean for your organization?
It means that providing customer support ONLY during standard business hours simply doesn’t work anymore. Customers want access to support around the clock, during weekends and even on holidays. That isn’t to say that your organization must have agents available 24/7, 365 days a year – that approach is often cost prohibitive. Providing additional agent access may also not truly meet the expectations of your customers.
Instead of ramping up your support hours, offer your customers useful self-service tools and platforms. Often, the ability to resolve their own issues or obtain personalized information without the support of an agent will help a customer feel in control, empowered and better connected to your organization.
By offering a mix of increased agent access and customer empowerment tools, your organization can better meet the changing expectations of the modern consumer.
What is customer empowerment?
At its most basic definition, customer empowerment is the strategy of providing customers with a set of tools or processes that make it possible to conduct business, resolve issues or obtain information independently.
The most common customer empowerment tools include:
- Customer access portals
- IoT technologies
- Chat and IVR
More than ever before, customers expect, and demand, the ability to resolve issues or obtain information without the assistance of another human being. The emergence of self-reliant consumers has left many organizations struggling to provide the tools and self-service channels their customers demand.
How can your organization develop effective customer empowerment tools?
Empowering customers isn’t always easy. It takes a strategic effort to identify or develop tools and processes that allow your customers to manage their account, tackle issues and conduct business without the assistance of an agent.
To truly empower customers, be sure to:
- Identify customer needs and desires: The first step in creating a customer empowerment program is to understand the needs, wants and expectations of your customers. Journey Mapping often provides useful insight into customer personalities as well as common pain points and universal needs. This information can be used to identify the most impactful empowerment tools and eliminate those that won’t provide optimal benefit or resonate well with customers.
- Leverage technology: From access portals to chatbots and AI, technology derives customer empowerment. Explore technology platforms to identify viable solutions that offer customers the power, access and features they deserve. Focus on solutions that offer the functionality your customers need, while also working within your specific technology ecosystem.
- Focus on efficiency and availability: Any tool you offer your customers must be easy-to-use, constantly accessible and efficient; anything less will lead to continual frustration. And remember – mobile access is a necessity, not a nice-to-have.
- Be consistent and accurate: The information, messaging and experience you provide customers must be consistent across all channels. Develop clearly defined rules, processes and messaging to ensure the consistent delivery of information. Encourage employees to understand the tools and channels your organization uses to empower customers.
- Streamline transitions: While it is often possible for customers to resolve an issue or obtain specific information independently, some situations may require the involvement of an agent. Plan carefully for such events and create streamlined transitions from customer empowerment platforms to agent assistance. Track issues that lead to escalation from self-service to guided assistance and make the effort to resolve them.
- Measure and track effectiveness: Simply providing tools to your customers isn’t enough – you must be sure that the tools you provide are effective and meet the expectations of your customers. Measure and track the use of each empowerment channel. Use the information gathered to make adjustments to technology and strategy as necessary.
Empowering customers offers many benefits, including improved experiences, reduced strain on agents, engaged customers and more.