These days, you’re not going to impress anyone with standard-issue customer service. Both consumers and procurement staff expect to be addressed by their names in responses that are rapid and contain personalized recommendations. Companies that don’t offer this type of service risk losing customers and sales. That’s why more and more companies are investing in data mining, analytics, and customer relationship management. But that’s still not enough to ensure truly personalized customer experiences. We’ve summed up what’s needed here.
Everybody knows the situation — you’ve already made purchases at this web shop twice, but the service representative on the hotline still asks you for your last name, the last purchase you made, and how they can help you. Then they interrupt the conversation to consult with someone else, and you’re back on hold. That was normal even just a few years ago. But now, this type of response fails to live up to even the lowest service expectations. Customers expect the company to know who they are, what their questions and preferences are, and be able to quickly provide answers, advice, or help.
A study by CRM provider Salesforce revealed that 66 percent of customers would switch vendors or purchase elsewhere if they felt they were “just a number” there. Roughly half of them would leave if the provider did not correctly identify their needs. And nearly two thirds expect companies to interact with them in real time. These results apply to customers in both B2C and B2B markets. At “fault” for this development is the digital transformation and the changes in communications and usage patterns it brings. Tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google have demonstrated — very successfully — what kind of service is now possible with modern technology. We not only expect that level of service online now, but also at the store down the street. There’s hardly a business today that can afford not to personalize customer experiences.
Word has gotten around. More and more businesses plan to invest in processes and systems for personalized customer experiences. The goal is to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales while reducing the cost of selling. But what exactly to companies require to accomplish this?
Knowing your customers is important, but still not enough
If you want to offer customers truly personalized service, you have to first get to know them as well as possible. For businesses, that means collecting and leveraging as much information on needs, preferences, and habits as possible. Visits to websites, replies to e-mails, ordering and customer service history, everything counts. If you can gather this knowledge and evaluate it, you will soon have a clear picture of the customer. The more comprehensive, the better.
What companies generally need in order to accomplish this is technology. Tracking, analytics, and CRM software reveal customer behavior and collect information from siloed databases across multiple business units. Then they compile this knowledge, prepare it, and make it available for employees or other software applications. These results are of course extremely valuable. The customer knowledge transmitted in this manner allows companies to provide answers proactively and prepare for customer interactions, even automated ones, resulting in increased productivity. But knowing all about the person you’re talking to is only half the story. Reporting, analytics, and CRM software offer insights into the needs of customers. But these applications alone still cannot provide the necessary consultation.
Truly excellent experiences require knowledge management
If you want employees (or chatbot software) to not only know the customer, but to advise them effectively and quickly, you need more. Good training in customer consultation and service, for instance, and thorough knowledge of the company’s latest solutions, prices, and service policies. It’s self-apparent that the latter can exceed the capabilities of even the most diligent employee. Many companies produce or distribute hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of products. Prices are constantly changing. And service contracts also frequently play a role. Premium customers receive assistance immediately, others have to wait unless they pay extra.
Staying on top of all of this information could be nearly impossible — were it not for modern software applications. Specialized knowledge management applications aggregate a nearly limitless number of files from various sources within a single searchable interface. This support allows employees to search through their company’s knowledge quickly and effectively, allowing them to respond to customer inquiries rapidly and correctly.
There are two main things that characterize a good knowledge management software: The first is that it supports employees in searching for answers, for instance through neatly structured decision trees. In this way, employees find the required knowledge as quickly as possible. Secondly, it provides an editorial workflow that allows experts (and only experts) to verify the accuracy of the content in the linked files together with the ability to review, correct, and maintain them. In this way, the software ensures that employees can truly provide fast and accurate answers — anytime, anywhere.
Customer knowledge + informed consultation = completely satisfied customers
You’ve probably already guessed where we’re headed with this. There are two things businesses that wish to provide truly successful personalized customer experiences — that increase satisfaction and sales — need to have. The first is the ability to gain as comprehensive a picture of the customer as possible. The second is the assuredness that employees are able to utilize this customer knowledge at any time for personalized and effective conversations and interactions. Companies that use data mining, analytics, and CRM software together with a robust knowledge management application generally get both and are able to offer customers exactly the experiences that they expect.
Already know a lot about your customers, but looking to improve knowledge management in your company or business unit? Then get in touch with us today. SABIO offers businesses consultation and integrated solutions for knowledge management focusing on marketing, sales, customer service, and service centers. Test SABIO’s knowledge management system for 30 days at no charge: https://www.getsabio.com/signup/