Setting up the customer relationship management (CRM) function can end up becoming the last item on the to-do list while launching a new product. Creating a competent customer relationship department requires dedicated effort and a strong strategy. In the world of digital, it has taken a whole new meaning. Expectations of customers when it comes to support and service are extremely different.
What is changing in the world of your customer?
Today’s customer is constantly shuffling between multiple devices. Purchase decisions are no longer based on one trip to the store or the showroom. Each choice is a deliberate decision made after hours of research. The customer experience during the process also hold tremendous value in the customer journey.
While the earlier generations of customers were more likely to ask their friends and colleagues for their experiences during their product research stage, now customers prefer to go through online forums and social media to gain an honest insight into each brand’s competency and approach to customers.
This drastic change in the customer journey has introduced new challenges for brands. Though traditionally, the focus has been only on the “after” part, now customer relationship management needs to be present throughout the decision-making process. And that isn’t the only the change. As customers have adapted to internet and technology, their requirements after purchase of a product have changed as well. Now each customer has their own preferred platform and medium to connect with brands. Though some may still prefer picking up the phone and talking to a real human-being, there are many who believe in and prefer self-service.
What does this mean to you as a brand?
This definitely means that each brand needs to have a different and well-devised strategy towards customer relationship management. Just having multiple channels of communication open to the customers is no longer enough. Creating a seamless experience for the customer as they move from one channel to the other to communicate with you is of the utmost importance. It is time for each customer centric brand to adopt an omni-channel approach to CRM. This approach ensures that the customers have a unified brand experience while switching from one platform to other without compromising on the quality of service.
To put this into perspective, think of yourself a customer. While browsing through the brand website to find information about your next big purchase, you suddenly have a question. As you are already on the internet, you choose to tweet to the brand asking your query.
In such a situation, what are your expectations? You would want a prompt reply. To make this interaction even more fruitful, you would like someone to call or email with additional information about the product which resolves your query and gives you a reason to actually go ahead with the purchase.
In this example itself, there are four mediums of communication mentioned – website, social media, email and telephone. This customer interaction can be a success only if the CRM team provides a unified experience at all touch points, making it easier for the customer to take a decision or even convincing them to choose your brand.
How does a brand work towards creating this experience?
The first step is to bring various teams together to actually understand the customer. At this juncture, go beyond customer service to include marketing and sales team along with the customer relationship management teams. Each team will bring their own unique insights that can be leveraged to create a superior experience for each customer. Next step is to integrate your customer relationship management teams (all platforms) and bringing them together.
Additionally, there are many more ways that should be a part of your strategy to create a memorable experience for the customer, some of them are as follows –
Understand & Empathize – Spend a good amount of time understand customer purchase journey and understanding the points where they may need assistance. This insight can help you create and enhance touchpoints.
Track to Avoid Repetition – There is hardly anything more annoying to the customer than having to repeat their queries and problems multiple times. As they may move on from one platform to another or from one executive to another, make sure they can do so effortlessly.
Empower through Self-Service – Handholding may not work for all customers. There are many who like to find solutions and answers on their own. For these customers, keep all information accessible and make self-service easier by leveraging technology.
Be prompt – Remember, in the world of digital, promptness goes a long way. Whether it is to resolve a problem or just acknowledging appreciation, no customers has a problem with promptness. As it is extremely easy for the customer to move on to another brand, leave no gaps to let that happen.
Incorporating these principles in our customer service strategy has been one of the top most priorities for Mercedes-Benz. We have designed a comprehensive program called “My Mercedes, My Service” which ensures customers have a hassle-free ownership experience. Integrating multiple platforms, customer now have various ways of booking appointments with our experts including the internet. Features such as ‘Remote Video Chat’ and ‘Pick up and drop’ for servicing vehicles and resolving queries are simplifying customer’s life. By introducing these new facilities and various other engagement initiatives, customers are now more closely linked and engaged with Mercedes-Benz than ever before.