The standards for a great customer experience are changing — that’s obvious. While customer appetite for personalized, 24/7 customer service is growing, what’s not so obvious are the best, most efficient ways to modernize customer experience strategies to meet these growing expectations.

With the rise of omnichannel communication, being able to reach customers via SMS, email, social and live chat is paramount as customer willingness to call a 1–800 number or be 8th in the queue and wait patiently is decreasing… fast.

We connected with businesses around the world to discuss how they’re meeting their customers’ growing expectations for better service.

Resources around the clock

Old school 9–5 business hours are a thing of the past, and customers want (and need) assistance any time of day. By implementing tools like chatbots, businesses can provide customer service outside of standard business hours.

“Customers now expect to receive help immediately, without having to wait an hour on the phone, and at any time during the day,” says Tia Coward, events coordinator at SNAP Events. “That’s why it’s important for companies to use online 24/7 chatbots that are programmed to answer FAQs.”

Chatbots aren’t the only way to ensure customers can access resources and answers to their questions 24/7.

“We’ve invested in the creation of an advanced knowledge base with intuitive predictive search capabilities, and clear direction provided to customers, who can access it directly,” says Polly Kay, digital marketing manager at English Blinds. “In support of this, we also offer live chat options with our own in-house customer service representatives during business hours.”

Additionally, English Blinds offers both phone and live chat, as well as dedicated email support. This allows them to reach customers however they need.

By offering support during off-hours — mainly focusing on chatbots and knowledge bases — businesses can offer customers options until they’re able to fully reconnect during working times. In many cases, customer needs can be met by a knowledge base or chatbot, and they won’t need to return for additional help from a live agent.

Making it personal

It’s extremely frustrating for a customer to have to introduce themselves, their query and a brief history of all other past interactions with customer service every time they connect with an agent or chatbot. This scenario can be avoided by linking live chat and other communication channels with customer relationship management (CRM) technologies, which provide a history of the customer’s past interactions to an agent or chatbot.

“The moment a chat request is submitted by a website visitor, information related to the visitor is retrieved by our CRM — name, email address, phone numbers, social media accounts and a copy of the chat transcript — giving us a complete view of the customer profile,” explains Ashwini Dave of Acquire. “There are many instances where instant access to chat history has aided in providing an excellent customer experience. For example, when one of the customers claims a discount granted by another agent and we need to verify it, we don’t have to search through the conversation history. Everything was available in one place.”

TJ Hoffman, COO of Sibme, explains how his company personalizes customer service in a different, long-term way.

“We assign dedicated customer success managers to each enterprise to provide them with consulting throughout the year and help them find new ways to use our platform,” he said. “This multi-pronged approach to customer experience has been helpful in increasing engagement and reducing churn.”

Rather than dropping customers into a general queue, the best omnichannel engagement platforms can connect customers directly to an assigned agent — such as a dedicated customer success manager — or to the last agent they interacted with. Routing rules can also be put in place if brands want certain customers — like VIP, or those with ‘urgent’ open cases — to bypass a chatbot completely and go right to a human agent.

Both examples — linking CRM systems to chat and assigning a dedicated customer success manager — allow for speedier, more efficient customer interactions, setting both agents and customers up for a positive customer experience.

Keeping up with the basics

It’s important that companies don’t forget about the basics when thinking about how to up-level their CX. In fact, without a stable base, businesses’ efforts to implement tools and strategies like the ones mentioned above are likely to fail. Calloway Cook, founder of Illuminate Labs, explains how his business stays on top of one item that may seem obvious.

“I’m relentlessly optimizing page load speed to improve customer experience on all devices,” he said. “I’m sure to compress all images, avoid multiple fonts whenever possible and leverage Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) whenever possible.”

Calloway also notes that site owners can use free developer tools to analyze their site.

“Focusing efforts on optimizing for page load speed is especially beneficial for companies on a budget, since most of the work is just technical improvements and doesn’t require investment,” he explained.

There are many routes companies can take to achieve the same goal: to make the customer happy. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to doing so, but by evaluating your audience, you will be able to pinpoint, or at least test, which solutions are the best fit. For example, a company that has short-term interactions might not need a long-term dedicated customer success manager like Sibme did. However, a contact center with a demand for 24/7 responsiveness may want to invest in chatbots and self-serve knowledge bases to work around the clock, like the team at SNAP Events. By catering specifically to when, where and how their customer base expects service, businesses are more likely to foster the best possible customer experience.