Are you harnessing the power of digital technology to improve customer service experiences?

The bar for customer service is becoming higher and higher every day—especially considering the advancement of digital technology and the unprecedented services that digital companies like Amazon and Etsy offer.

In our “always on,” mobile and digital culture, consumers now expect customer service to be a 360-degree, omni channel experience that transcends time and geography. In order for any company to survive and compete in this world, customer service needs to provide the following three things:

  • Consistency: Regardless of channel, time, and issue, companies must provide consistent customer service. High-quality customer interaction should always be available as consumers take their issues across service touchpoints.
  • Effective assistance: All service issues that consumers encounter need to be carefully addressed to meet each person’s specific needs. Generic responses are simply not effective or helpful to people when they are seeking solutions.
  • Contextual relevance: It’s imperative to fully understand the context in which the consumer is seeking service (e.g., channel, time, location, reason, etc.) and respond with truly meaningful, personalized solutions.

The quality and role of service is more important than ever to a company’s customer experience and its bottom line. A major study conducted a few years ago measured the customer experience’s impact to a company, and found that an astounding 89 percent of customers stopped doing business with an organization after a single bad experience. Furthermore, a 2013 Parature reported that U.S. businesses annually lose an estimated $83 billion due to poor customer service.

The negative impact doesn’t stop there, either. These days, due to the popularity and power of social media, negative sentiments and post-purchase experiences can be rapidly shared, go viral, and affect a company’s reputation and revenue in detrimental ways. The best example of this in action would be Comcast. The cable company experienced some dark days in 2014 where frustrated customers started posting their experiences all over the internet. Another example is what happened with Verizon Fios when their customers went online to vent frustrations about the atrocious installation and post-installation services.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Positive customer experiences can also lead to reviews and testimonials that are organically shared online, resulting in unsolicited—yet highly welcomed—word-of-mouth marketing.

The companies that provide the best in-class customer service can garner great customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. And if you’re looking for the best ways to deliver customer service, then look to digital to help.

Digital has the highest ability to help any company improve customer experience. There are several ways to take advantage of digital capabilities to provide positive customer service, including:

Increasing self-service

While it may seem counter-intuitive, self-service can lead to higher satisfaction and enhanced customer experience. The Hilton Hotel capitalized on this notion by becoming the first in the travel industry to allow customers to select their own room during the booking process. This provided customers with greater personalization and control over their purchase.

Providing seamless cross-channel experiences

No matter where a customer is—in the comfort of their own home or standing in line at a brick-and-mortar checkout—they want to be provided with an experience that caters to where there are. Burberry has effectively blurred the line between digital and real-world retail experience, providing a cohesive experience for their customers in recent years.

Unifying service with fully integrated customer data

Jumping back to the Comcast example, imagine how much better a customer service call could go, if the customer’s profile could be pulled up and referred to before each encounter. Using data, customer service representatives can get a better idea of who the customer is, what their preferences are, and what other reps told them so they can offer the best possible experience for the current touchpoint.

Offering personalized service experience

According to Statista, 71% of respondents from a recent survey indicated that personalized service would be important to them. This is where Amazon’s customer service shines. The online retailing giant takes the time to fully train their service agents on the importance of personalization so they can provide solutions catered to the customer’s needs.

Giving guided experiences

In order to better serve the customer, Lowes offers innovation such as the “Holorooms,” which are augmented reality showrooms. Customers can use this service to design an ideal bathroom and visualize what the outcome would look like in real life.

As the technology continues to improve so will the opportunity for companies to provide the kinds of digital customer service experiences that consumers are looking for. It’s important to constantly keep an eye on emerging trends and tech to see how you can better serve your customer base, and provide them with the kind of experiences that will make your company go viral in all the right ways.