fairytaleOnce upon a time …

Hands up, who likes waiting? We all have our ‘princess’ moments, the moments where we want an answer, the correct answer and we want it now! The technology fairy-tale that started in the nighties with the birth of micro-computers and innovations, today struggles to keep us – the 24/7 digitally connected customers – happily ever after.

The rules of the traditional marketplace have changed – Hail the Age of the Customer!

  1. Products and services are still controlled by the seller
  2. The buying decision is still controlled by the customer
  3. But information – including customer experiences – is now easily accessible in abundance to the customer without being controlled, filtered, or distributed by the seller

And don’t they know it! Customers today are embracing their new power, increasingly expecting to not only to shop online any time, but to self-serve and connect to businesses through channels of their choice.

Somewhere over the rainbow, customer expectations are set way up high

Technology has changed customer expectations and customer experience can no longer be sacrificed for the convenience of the brand. Wizards on smart-phones, tablets and on social networks, customers are now in control of a brand’s fate.

However, when it comes to customer service, many businesses don’t make it to the ball. They strike out with long winded conversations or inconsistent information across different contact channels.

So what is the magic recipe to retain and attract customers – with a single, poor customer experience able to destroy a castle wall?

In the kingdom and age where customers rule, online customer service has to become the driving force behind modern day customer service delivery – a force for better self-service, for always on, mobile, social, web and agent answers being delivered in real time with knowledge-based technology at the heart of it all. Recognising that being competitive is no longer enough, brands also have to be relevant, delivering great customer service experience in a 24/7 access to information, anywhere on any device world.

It’s this scene, which today seems to confuse and amuse those responsible for delivering ‘fairy tale quality’ customer experiences.

Frequently used within the industry, omni- and multi-channel mean two very distinct things. However from the customer’s perspective, it’s the same goal – the delivery of superior customer experience.

Omni-channel means supporting all channels – whilst having a holistic view of the experience from your customer’s point of view – in a seamless, integrated a consistent manner regardless of the contact channel.

Omni-channel experiences are connected, consistent across devices, channels and time, and contextual, regardless of the amount of times a customer may switch from one channel to another to find a solution.

To put it simply: Customers view their experiences with a company, not with discrete channels. But choosing the right technology will allow for an omni-like customer experience.

Fairy godmother

As an online customer, I have seen many brands, some well known, who’s online customer service strategy screams ‘damsel in distress’. More nightmare than fairy tale, its shocking how many businesses don’t have a clear online customer service strategy in place.

But all is not grim – Investing in the right technology will ensure customers receive consistent customer experiences, vital to retain customers, reduce costs and increase sales.

Knights and princesses – advocates who make it their mission to deliver exceptional customer experience – let’s strive to make omni-channel customer service a reality.