Customers used to turn directly to an organization’s customer service agents when experiencing trouble with a product or service, but the advent of search engines and smartphones has democratized information. These developments have also revolutionized brand interactions – instead of picking up the phone, customers often turn to online resources to solve problems.

Information democratization doesn’t render customer service obsolete, though – in fact, it makes it one of an organizations’ most important elements. According to one study of customer service professionals, 73 percent of decision makers in call-centric environments noted an increase in the complexity of customer interactions. If a customer is scouring search results for hours and still can’t resolve the problem, then they’re likely experiencing a complex issue – this is where expert customer service workers come in to provide knowledgeable answers.

Given that 89 percent of customers will leave a company for a competitor after a poor customer experience, organizations must commit to a plan of action to meet hyper-informed customers’ needs. Ensure that your customer-facing employees are expert problem solvers, educators, and company evangelists by following these steps.

1. Invest in the learning curve

Organizations must redesign customer service to better suit how today’s customers interact with brands. Formulaic approaches such as a cheerful greeting or a wrap-up upsell pitch don’t work for hyper-informed customers, and they also have little patience for traditional call center hurdles like long hold times. Instead, they want expert answers and advice that they can’t find through a Google search—as quickly as possible and with a minimum of extraneous information. If your organization uses old customer service formulas, take time to learn about what hyper-informed customers look for, especially as it relates to your products and services. Read blogs such as this one, listen to your customers through surveys, and compare your processes to those of companies who successfully interact with digitally-savvy customers. Then, move onto the next step.

2. Provide the right incentives and training

With your new knowledge of hyper-informed customer expectations, it’s time to reexamine what aspects of customer interaction your organization prioritizes. If you’re still setting KPIs based on sticking to a script and call-handling time, consider implementing new customer-centric metrics. Evaluating workers on elements such as customer satisfaction and issue resolution incentivizes customer-focused approaches, ultimately helping your company build a service-oriented culture.

Simply setting new KPIs isn’t enough to transform your organization’s customer service, however. Ensure that you’re also providing the right training, both for new and existing employees, so they don’t feel helpless when walking customers through complicated problems. Tap experts in your organization, such as marketers, salespeople, engineers, and product developers, who can provide in-depth insights to customer service workers on a regular basis, whether through in-person seminars or e-learning. This knowledge will prepare your employees for complicated customer issues that require the creative thinking a manual can’t provide.

3. Create a productive environment

An environment that facilitates speedy, accurate, and collaborative work enables your customer care representatives to provide the exceptional service that hyper-informed customers seek. Start by investing in the right technology that helps customer service workers do their jobs. For example, 360-CRM platforms provide robust information about customers’ histories so workers can delve right into the issue rather than asking repetitive questions. Even smaller technology-related actions, such as updating software regularly, can keep workers focused on the task at hand rather than technological hiccups.

Wireless headsets are also an asset for agents, as the typical worker spends 32 percent of their time working in a radius of up to nearly 40 feet from their desk. Going cordless provides more freedom to walk across the office to get approval from supervisors and request additional information – all without interrupting a customer, putting them on hold, or having to call them back.

4. Monitor online conversations

It isn’t enough to focus solely on the interactions customer service agents have with customers, though. While this team may provide excellent customer care, conversations are constantly buzzing on blogs, social media, and news sites. Research shows that in most industries, the majority of customers research purchases online before making them, so when they call your organization to make a purchase or to resolve an issue, they’ve already been exposed to what the online community is saying about your brand, whether good or bad.

Keep tabs on digital conversations about your company, your industry, and your competitors by setting alerts for keywords and product names, and then notify your customer service team as soon as an issue surfaces. These employees are on the customer interaction front-line, so equipping them with the necessary knowledge to counter false and negative information is critical to protecting and promoting your brand.

The democratization of information has cultivated hyper-informed customers, and while adapting to this trend may prove challenging for businesses, it also provides a unique opportunity to build positive customer relationships. Following the steps outlined above can equip customer service workers with the right knowledge, training, and technology to answer consumers’ complex questions with the efficiency they demand. Doing so will ultimately cultivate a customer-centric culture that serves as a crucial brand differentiator in a changing information landscape.