Optimizing Customer Service Touch Points to Deliver Great Customer Experience

With the new wave of digital revolution, analysts, strategists and forecasting groups are laying immense pressure on businesses to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to combat their recent challenges. Both small and large businesses believe that their basic challenge lies in maintaining a consistent and growing consumer base in the highly competitive and global market.

Considering the economics behind CRM strategies, companies are investing heavily in software that assists them in keeping track of consumers. A lot has been written regarding approach towards CRM analysis, however it is interesting to advance this field from a creative frame of mind. After all, the field of consumer behavior is more emotionally driven than logically concluded.

'Product-wise complaints/ requests' report
An interesting approach towards effective use of CRM is to understand its use in delivering a delightful customer service experience. The term customer service is often associated with call centers. Many companies lose their customers to cold and often ineffective customer service. In today’s virtually connected society, consumers prefer reaching out to companies and the customer support system via email, messages or twitter. If companies are really listening, these avenues can prove to be a valuable touch point to build and regain trust through service oriented strategies.

In order to realize this approach effectively, it is necessary for the company to treat their customer service strategy as an experience provider. Additionally, they need to consider a touch point as a stage, to communicate values and thereby build trust with companies.

James Gilmore, in his book ‘The Experience Economy’, provides companies a measurable tool to alter their experience through a customer service centric approach. The tool is expressed as shown below (The Experience Realm)-

Experience through any touch point with the consumer can be placed spatially on an axis using two important dimensions – level of absorption of communicated message by consumers, and level of participation of consumers with the brand. On placing these dimensions on axis, the area is divided into 4 quadrants, namely-
  • Educational: High absorption of information and active participation 
  • Entertainment: High absorption of information but passive participation 
  • Esthetic: Low absorption or immersion of information and passive participation 
  • Escapist: Low absorption or immersion of information but active participation
A company can gauge its performance for participation and absorption of information through the following methods-
  • Customer feedback channel: comments on website, Facebook, Twitter, complaint box 
  • Surveys: provide incentives to consumers in order to fill out surveys 
  • Study consumer generated content on social media 
  • Preserve and analyze consumer testimonials and referrals
Through the above listed research tools, companies can spatially place its existing position within the Experience Realm. As per James Gilmore, the most memorable experience for a consumer is attained when the experience provided the company reaches the intersection point of the axis i.e. when a company can achieve an overlap of Educational, Escapist, Entertainment and Esthetic quadrant of the tool. The approach can be studied in depth through the following examples-

Company A uses Twitter to provide customer service to consumers. They are able to converse one on one with the specific consumer, but are unable to extend that conversation beyond two point feedback loop with the ability to be quoted or re-tweeted. In this scenario, Company A provides more absorption of information but a weak active participation. It can fall under the Education quadrant of the tool. In this case, the company can retweet the satisfied consumer’s reply as a testimonial and use it as a conversation point with other consumers. Thus, it will not only project the company’s brand identity as being a quick and effective customer service provider, but also inculcate a community to interact with each other on their Twitter page.

Company B uses a message system in-built on its website to provide customer support. In this manner, there is no way to build a participatory environment around a complaint filed through the one to one feedback loop. On solving the consumer’s issue immediately, Company B can offer a promotional offer as a way of apologizing to the consumer for the inconvenience caused, incorporating a referral button for consumers to share their experience and generate trust among other users.

A similar approach can be applied to phone, email, Facebook and other touch points that can offer customer service.

An effective customer service solution can allow companies to recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and optimize the strategy to deliver a great customer experience. Customer Relationship Management in its essence can be guaranteed through this creative face over in customer service management and above the analytical deductions. Customer service is necessary to retain the trust of consumers, and can be effectively used to combat growing competition.