Digital advancements have changed the way people shop and also their customer service expectations from companies. With a complete revamp in digital economy in terms of how transactions are conducted over the internet, customer service benchmarks have to change to meet the needs of the modern customer. A study by Steven Van Belleghem, titled ‘The future of customer support: From personal, to self, to crowd service?’ looks at the trends of customer service in the future. According to the study, one of the biggest challenge will be to offer better customer service at a lower cost and forming a human connection with customers while offering technologically progressive solutions. Below are some of the ways through which companies can re-evaluate and adjust their customer service practices with growing digitalization.
As people become more and more accustomed to digital culture, they turn to online avenues for solutions, suggestions and assistance. It is important that businesses that want to stay relevant develop an online presence and actively engage their target customer-base over the internet. This is even true for businesses not directly selling their products/services online, because potential customers conduct extensive research before making any purchase. According to a study, 81% of shoppers conducted online research before making a purchase decision.
Companies should also devise internet-based solutions for customers through online catalogues, even if the company is not directly selling online. Alternatively, an information hub can be created so that the customer knows exactly what to expect and where to make the purchase from. Additionally, maintaining high-quality customer service on various online communication channels is important because customers don’t always want to pick up the phone, since email and making contact through social media platforms is more convenient.
As mentioned earlier, more and more customers are shopping online, which means that companies need to fill the digital gaps in their business model to capture the growing number of online shoppers. Although brick and mortar stores are still an important part of the economy, a lot of consumers are turning to online shopping for many products and services. eMarketer estimates that internet accounted for 7.3% of global retail sales last year, which will grow to 12.4% by 2019. This trend should act as a sign for companies to be online and offer their products/service to online shoppers. In addition to eliminating the need to visit brick and mortar stores, companies should also ensure that information provided is adequately organized so that it is convenient for customers to browse, compare and shop.
Companies can no longer ignore the growing number of consumers who are predominantly using their mobile devices to carry out transactions online. Businesses must ensure that all platforms are mobile-friendly and support all devices popularly used by potential customers. Research by Ericsson suggests that by 2020, there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users around the world. Mobile commerce has created several opportunities for retailers and the need to address customer concerns and provide a satisfying online customer experience is even stronger than before.
In the digital age, it is important for all businesses to offer flexibility in terms of how transactions are conducted. They should be able to adjust to changing trends and demands of customers. The e-commerce dynamics are difficult to control no matter how big or powerful companies are. For example, when music became available online, record companies spent millions of dollars warning music listeners about consequences of music piracy. They should have changed their revenue model to sell music online instead of CD or cassettes. Many record companies failed in the process and filed for bankruptcy. The example goes to show the importance of being flexible and adopting to trends before it’s too late. Ideally, companies should invest in human capital to ensure that they have up-to-date information about paradigm shifts so that they can respond to various trends in a proactive manner.
The popularity of e-commerce has also increased the demand for instantaneous solutions through various online channels. For example, Live Chat is one successful tool that helps companies connect and actively engage with online customers in real-time as opposed to back and forth exchange of email, which is painfully slow for customers. Businesses should continuously innovate and develop strategies for different communication channels in order to instantaneously respond to customers and solve their problems.
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