Digital transformation is something every industry is in the process of implementing. But in many cases, the transition is becoming problematic for customers, and can negate your hard-fought marketing wins. As a result, instead of enhancing the customer experience, automation can actually diminish it. This translates into disgruntled customers and lost business—a hefty price to pay.
For example, according to a nationwide survey by Interactions Corporation, 83% of consumers revealed that they would stop giving a company business after having a poor experience with an automated phone system, demonstrating that technology can be a double-edged sword.
Other counterproductive examples include that really cool app that can’t answer burning questions in real time, or your automated trouble shooting solution that offers a self-diagnostic logic tree but can’t solve a customer problem the way an experienced technician can.
If you currently promise to respond to customer email inquiries within 24 hours, you might want to read this Fast Company article about a USC study on email response times.
As entrepreneurs, we should all aim to become more efficient and automated, but not at the expense of the customers experience. While the goal of digital transformation is generally to take humans out of the equation, customers particulary desire to have them put back in. Thus, the danger of over-digitization is that clients will become alienated (and will talk about their dissatisfaction). In contrast, the result of a satisfying interaction with another carbon-based life form is more often a positive experience, which will also be shared too.
The following five simple changes, according to Sean Hopwood, President of Day Translations, can immediately elevate your customers’ experience with your company, and turn your clients into a legion of word-of-mouth marketers.
Respond To Customer Inquiries More Quickly Than Expected
When you let the technology pendulum swing too far, you might create the impression that you’re less interested in listening to the customer’s pain points. With B2B clients, for example, the goal is first to listen for the ways in which your customers are trying to serve their customers, and then to help them do that better.
This makes you indispensable to your customers and they will continue to do business with you, especially if you can do it quickly. According to Hopwood, it doesn’t matter what mode of communication customers use. He says they’re all about speed, because they assume that every customer contact is urgent.
If time is money and if your B2B customers are using your products or services to make money, then the faster you can respond to them, the more money you will help them make.
Ask Customers Meaningful Questions and Capture Their Answers
A quick and personal response will create an extraordinary impression, but speed is only a means to an end. The desired outcome is to garner critical information through the proper questions. Who are you talking to? What is their challenge? What’s the most impactful solution you can provide right now?
What end result would not work for them? You can never assume what a customer wants or needs, because everyone is different.
Create Customer Profiles
Through the information you’ve obtained through your questions, you can begin to create customer profiles. Every company has categories and subcategories of customers who need to be serviced differently.
They each have their own goals, challenges and preferences. Each customer category may use unique terminology, and your people can greatly increase your company’s credibility by speaking in a customer’s specific business dialect.
Create a Customer Reference Guide For Your Employees
All of the information you gather about your customers—profiles, successful solutions, customer feedback, competitive analysis, etc.—can be collected into one comprehensive database.
This stockpile of customer-related knowledge should grow over time. Hopwood says he now has over two-thousand pages of customer intelligence at their fingertips. This collection allows for their people to deal with almost any situation, just by searching via key word for a documented solution. One huge advantage this type of reference guide offers is its ability to be a resource in training new hires.
Give Your Employees a Sense of Belonging
Your employees are the ones who will interact with your prospects and customers. If your people don’t want to go the extra mile, they won’t. Forbes once featured an interesting article on how to deal with employees who may not want to be engaged. Employee engagement will not happen without a feeling of being a part of something bigger than oneself. This can be particularly difficult in a dispersed workforce.
These five factors are what have made a difference in one company, and will work well in yours as well. Notice how each practice builds on the one before it, so decreasing response time could be a good place to start. Is this a set of changes that might convert your customers into more effective brand ambassadors?
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.