Digital Customer Service

Understanding Digital Customer Service and How to Improve it

The digital world has changed the buying process! Customers today are well-informed of products and the market. When they enter stores or talk to a sales representative, today’s customers already know what they want to buy and how much they want to pay for it. They have access to digital channels like blogs, vlogs, websites, social media, chatbots and digital marketplaces that provide them with a plethora of relevant information. In fact, once the sale is closed, customers take the time and use those same channels to either shame or promote the seller with a mere click of the button. Today’s customers don’t just want to enjoy the benefits of their purchases, they also want to enjoy the journey of making those purchases.

Therefore, to give the customers what they want, businesses have realized that they must provide exemplary digital customer services – paving the way for a complete customer service transformation.

Customer service leaders today are facing tremendous pressures:

  • Ensure customer journey in digital channels at lowered costs
  • Match up to competition’s service standards
  • Assure leadership that the service center is more than just a cost center

According to Karen Freberg, Associate Professor in Strategic Communication at the University of Louisville, digital customer service is a necessity in today’s business landscape as it presents a unique opportunity to build a two-way dialogue with customers and learn about their wants and needs.

Understanding Digital Customer Service

In today’s digital age, with rapid adoption of technology, the rules of customer services are changing. The customer is now in the driver seat.

Digital customer service – defined as meeting the needs of customers using digital channels such as emails, mobile apps, blogs, vlogs, SMS, online chats, and social media, has become more than just engaging with the customer and handling their complaints and returns; it is about enhancing the entire end-to-end customer experience, where every interaction is seamless, fast, and personalized.

In fact, if done well, digital customer service can also become a valuable revenue driver, with Forrester estimating that 69% of customers preferring to buy from brands that offer consistent customer service across multiple channels. Therefore, business leaders are increasingly understanding that “how” they deliver is as important as “what” they deliver.

Additionally, new competitors are flooding the market by taking advantage of the low barriers of entry provided by globalization, de-regulation, and technology developments. This further highlights the need for a robust digital customer service, with Deloitte stating that 67% of a company’s competitive edge comes from its customer service.

Improving Digital Customer Service

Digital customer service must not be seen as merely adding more digital options to the pre-existing customer service efforts. It must be approached as a multistage transformation, undertaken with rigorous planning, streamlined processes, and initiatives backed by the leadership. Here are some ways you can improve your digital customer service strategy:

1. Figure out the gaps

Digital channels produce terabytes of unstructured data, which when optimized can be a valuable source of information and insights. Therefore, it is necessary for businesses to deep dive into their existing customer service strategy and analyze various touch points and functionalities, and how they are offered to spot weaknesses and inconsistencies. This enables businesses to direct their investment into the right tools and processes.

Measuring the impact of the new initiatives across each digital channel individually and assessing the migration rate between them can help businesses improve their customer service results and identify the most effective digital channels. This ensures that the business can maintain control over various channels, understand the nature of the customer service requests, and its ability to resolve them. This can also help businesses identify the points where customers are abandoning self-service and calling the contact center.

Additionally, analyzing the prior customer service requests can help businesses identify priorities. For instance, businesses often find that a small number of problems account for the majority of customer requests and costs. One of the major reasons for this is a lack of direct digital solution. This means that designing the right solutions for those problems can help the business significantly cut  costs and also enhance customer experience.

2. Develop targets and a service strategy

Once the business identifies the problem, it must set up well-defined targets, defined at the enterprise, group, and individual levels. This is initiated by developing a workflow for each involved personnel, as part of the larger framework to address the problem. For instance, a touchpoint map can show which customer request can be addressed at which digital touchpoint, which can help businesses pin-point which functionality to develop.

Businesses should consider the costs and savings-estimate when setting up the workflow. In fact, many businesses utilize service-to-sales functionality to some digital touchpoints in order to cross-sell services and cover the cost of the functionality development. However, it is crucial to push them selectively, and not too aggressively to prevent jeopardizing the customer service efforts and brand image.

3. Reach out to customers proactively

Proactive customer service involves anticipating the needs of customers and delivering the relevant information and solutions without being prompted. This can include notifying customers about new product errors and glitches, providing tailored advice, offering personalized product solutions recommendations etc.

For instance, consider the example of a shopping chatbot deployed by a retail or CPG company. When a customer interacts with the chatbot and shows interest in making a product purchase, the chatbot can analyze past shopping behaviour of the customer and recommend more products similar to the one he/she is trying to purchase.

In addition, the chatbot can suggest the usage of coupons or promotional offers while the customer tries to check out. It can also notify customers in advance if there is a delay in orders and provide an updated delivery ETA.

Proactive customer service not only improves customer satisfaction and confidence but also reduces costs and increases agent productivity. Human agents can spend less time answering routine questions and focus on other productive tasks. A report by Enkata shows that proactive customer service reduces call volumes by 30% and increases customer retention by 3-5%


4. Send updates on new products and services

Powerful digital customer service and engagement is crucial whenever an organization launches new products or services. You not only have to ensure customers are fully aware of the launch and understand the product benefits but also need to make sure they know how to use the product features and address any new concerns they might have.

A major insurance company based in Canada recently approached for our help on improving their digital customer service as they were planning to launch a new insurance plan. We helped the company deploy an AI virtual assistant on their corporate website within 8 weeks. Upon the launch of the new plan, the GDPR chatbot was able to educate customers about the plan, address their queries and help new members decide which scheme they should choose based on their demographic information. The bot  deflected most of the questions from going to the company’s call center and reduced inbound call volume.

5. Address “How-to” scenarios

Another important aspect of digital customer service is helping customers understand the different ways they use a product or service. For instance, Knorr, a global CPG company and manufacturer of dehydrated soup and meal mixes, deployed a chatbot that provides different soup recipes, tips and tricks for preparation, and personalized ingredient recommendations.

This type of customer service initiatives help companies not only improve the overall customer experience and engagement but also drive sales and revenue. 

6. Utilize AI-driven technologies

Businesses must look to adopt modern AI-powered technologies that can provide key advantages in improving digital customer service:

1. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants For 24/7 Customer Service

As seen above, a chatbot is arguably the most adopted digital customer service technology in recent times. With their highly interactive and human-like conversational interfaces, chatbots deliver personalized responses to customers based on their intent and preferences.

Their deployment can increase the company’s customer interactions capacity, and reduce human involvement to only when absolutely necessary or when the chatbots are unable to solve a specific problem, thereby saving costs. Moreover, their performance is easy to track. The data generated by chatbots can help businesses identify key customer trends and behaviors.

With their machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities, chatbots can also learn from previous interactions to better understand customer vocabulary.

By acting as the first line of service agents, they enable human agents to focus on high value tasks. They can assist your customers 24 X 7, across multiple channels and languages.

Learn More:

2. Advanced Analytics To Extract The Value From Contact Centre Data

Contact centres produce humongous amounts of data. However much of this data is unstructured and present in different formats – free text fields, images, audio etc. and accessible only to the IT department. Therefore, businesses have been unable to tap into its value to guide their decision making.

However, today, with the development of NLP-driven advanced analytics, businesses can tap into this data, across multiple channels, and generate valuable insights to better understand customer behaviour and the general customer sentiment towards the product or the company.

Learn More: Advanced Analytics: 4 Simple Steps For Enterprise Adoption

Get Started

With McKinsey stating that 25% of customers will defect after just one bad digital experience, it’s time for customer service leaders to rethink their service strategy. Leading businesses make their digital customer service experiences useful, engaging, and consistent, at every touchpoint. They personalize it and keep it emotionally appealing across the entire customer life cycle. This enables them to drive brand loyalty and customer retention.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please feel free to get in touch with one of our customer service transformation experts for a personalized consultation.