Who decides how customer-centric their companies are?

Yesterday, I was struck by a very interesting line in a recent Forrester report titled “Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service”. In the very first line of the report, Kate Leggett says “In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.”

The explosion of social media, the easy availability of apps for everything and the always-connected consumer have caused a tremendous change in consumer behavior and

Multi channel customer support
Omnichannel customer service with Impel

expectations. These are profound changes that no company can afford to ignore. The good thing is that consumers are now more than willing to help themselves. While this reduces the cost of customer service for companies, the challenge is to provide simple, easy-to-use support systems that consumers can use on their own.

Per the Forrester report, for the first time ever, in 2014, Web self-service edged out phone support as the preferred channel for customer support. In a survey of 4,509 US adults, 76% used Web self-service, while 73% used phone support. The interesting thing here, is that Web self-service has grown steadily from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014. During that same time period, phone support has stayed stagnant at 73%. So while phone support shows no sign of fading out in the near future, other channels of customer service are showing serious growth. This means that it becomes more imperative for companies to offer customer service options such as a customer knowledge base, chat, perhaps even community support forums.

Multi-channel is a term that’s being bandied around a lot these days, but one of the key takeaways from the research is that customers don’t want just multi-channel support; they really want all those channels to be unified – so that each request is recorded and easily answered in ONE, single system. This is beneficial to all the stakeholders in the situation – consumers, agents and companies.

  • Consumers no longer have to repeat themselves when they use a new channel or talk to a new agent
  • Agents know the complete history of a consumer’s interactions in a particular situation and can talk to the consumer intelligently and with more empathy
  • Companies save time, money and effort by reducing consumer handling time and increasing first-contact resolution.

While most companies do offer service in multiple channels, the frustrating consumer experience has been that each channel is in a separate silo. Thus forcing the consumer to repeat their story in every channel that they use. 75% of US online consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.

Most companies have not implemented omnichannel support and most haven’t trained agents in cross-channel service. If all channels feed into the same customer service software, then all companies need to do is to train their agents on that software. This makes immense sense for companies, because agents can then pick up the slack when there is heavier demand on a specific channel. Companies then clearly present to their consumers, that they value their time by obviating the need to repeat or explain their issue multiple times.

With cross-channel trained, empowered agents and the right omnichannel customer support software in place, this is exactly what you can provide to your consumers. Ensure that your agents can view transaction data from your operational systems within your customer service system, and you WILL be the customer service star! And while you are at it, make sure that you can provide exactly the same kind of service to your mobile app customers as well.


Chat – now more than just the cool way to hangout with friends!

Whether it’s your mom texting you about where to meet for lunch, or your co-worker sending you a link to a an article about your competitor’s new product release or an

Social Media User ranking global
Global Social Media ranking by users March 2015

old school friend starting a chat on Facebook, messaging has become an innate part of the way that you communicate. The latest statistics from Statista show that messaging apps like Whatsapp, QQ, Wechat and SnapChat are all growing exponentially.

The great thing about messaging is that it is quick, convenient and private. And more importantly, it has the flexibility to get you an instant response or an asynchronous response. That’s the reason why messaging is changing the way that consumers engage with brands whether via social media, live chat or even with call centers.

Change in consumer behavior: Consumers may not want to post on social media where their issue could get lost in a sea of messages, or they may not want to be put on hold in a call center. In fact, they may not want to make a call at all. For a lot of people, calling a call center is the equivalent of visiting a dentist for a root canal  :-)

Messaging has now crossed the divide from personal to professional. Consumer communication channels are changing and evolving, right before us. If messaging is the most common way that people communicate in their personal lives, doesn’t it make sense for brands to leverage the power of the channel to communicate with their consumers?The one-to-one nature of messaging allows the brand and the consumer to connect on an immediate and very personal level.

Here’s why Live Chat with your mobile consumers makes perfect sense for brands:

  1. Live chat offers access to consumers to respond when they are ready: Today’s
    Impel in-app Chat screenshot
    In-app chat with consumer in Impel

    digital consumer isn’t ready to wait. When s/he wants an answer, s/he wants it NOW. And if not s/he’s gone, straight to your competitor. This consumer also requires their own personal space and appreciates that they can reach out to your brand asynchronously. Live chat is the perfect way to support these digitally self-aware consumers, whenever and wherever they require it.

  2. Live Chat nurtures more meaningful relationships:  While consumers are increasingly tech-savvy, they still crave one-to-one human interaction. With Live Chat, the conversation is meaningful, private and unique. It makes the brand engagement feel more like chatting with a friend, rather than a call to an impersonal call center.
  3. Live Chat saves money:  Most consumers need some support in their journey with a brand. And the consumer generally prefers the most direct and quick path for communication. Call centers are more expensive both for the consumer and the brand. Email and social media questions may take too long to get a response. Clearly, Live Chat wins over other communication channels for convenience for the consumer and in terms of cost for the brand.

Consumers are demanding immediate, one-to-one engagement with brands from within their mobile app. How are you engaging with these digital consumers?

Mobile self-service: Why it’s important for SMBs and consumers.

Ok, quickly. Your alarm goes off in the morning? What’s the first thing you do once you turn it off?

The always-on smartphone

Chances are that you pick up your mobile phone and check your social media notifications, text messages, news updates and emails. If you’re like most of this connected generation, you use your phone throughout the day to connect to the world around you, to chat with friends, text with them, find a lunch spot, research that gadget thingie you want to buy…. Bottom line, your phone has become your primary communication channel with the world around you. It’s always on and lets you do what you want, when you want to do it.

Self Service on the smartphone

So don’t you think consumers like you would also want to get customer service on their mobile phones? Consumers have no time to wait on hold in a call center. They don’t want to send an email and wait for days or even hours to get a response. They want answers to questions as soon as they ask them. With the plethora of apps out there, making a consumer wait for a response means you’ve already lost them to a competing app. According to new research from Synthetix, 75% of consumers believe that companies should make answers to common questions available on smart phones. According to Echo Research, 50% of mobile users would prefer to use a mobile customer service app versus calling a call center.

In-app self service.

FAQs within your mobile app
In-app self service for apps

Let’s take a simple example. You are ordering a birthday gift for your best friend using an app on your mobile phone. You’ve chosen the items already. You want to know if they can deliver to your friend’s rather remote location. Would you rather use a simple in-app FAQ to find out, or would you switch out of the app, call the call center, spend 15 minutes on hold and then ask someone the question. Doesn’t it make sense for the company to provide such simple informational queries right inside the app? Having these queries and answers within the app, shows the consumer that you care about their interactions with you, and that you value their time. Thus making it much more likely that they will continue doing business with your company.

Customer Service is a key differentiator.

For an SMB trying to build a loyal and happy consumer base, what can be greater than consumers who are not only willing but are happy to help themselves. You can do so much more with a smaller, leaner team. A self-service portal with most FAQs answered can reduce loads on your support team significantly. And if that same set of FAQs is now available within your mobile app, you free up your team to work on more important value-added tasks.

With so much competition in the mobile app space, customer service is crucial and could give you that winning edge over your competition.

And with self-service on all your channels available at any time, here’s your chance to build a bunch of enthusiastic and loyal consumers.

Now isn’t that a great win for everyone?



“CRM Must-haves for all your Business Needs”

Like I had mentioned in my previous blog, CRM systems are a boon to your business. While examining your options for CRM, focusing on these features can prevent you from CRM Failures that we discussed. In the present scenario the business and  economic conditions are forcing companies to evaluate CRM products in a more critical light. Enterprise businesses want more from CRM but they want it in fewer, ie. an integrated system with simplified features. The definition of CRM that used to be just capturing the data changed drastically to an all in one system. Where the customer wants Sales forecasting, Targets, Marketing analysis, well defined dashboards, Invoices, Inventory, Call Center Integration and above this a system that can talk to their existing traditional or home grown system and connect the social media. Thus the features need to be discussed in detail.  tfr

Must-haves for Companies looking for CRM :

1. Ease of Use and  integration capabilities :  It really makes no sense at all for businesses to invest in CRM without the team using it.  Simple User interface is must to handle the starting problem or the rejection that a company might face to get the users use CRM regularly. A difficult or a complicated system kills the team motivation to use it .

2. Cloud CRM::  With the teams traveling without update is difficult in this busy routine.  Management needs a clear update and teams also need to access the system without any restrictions of  a CRM solution that can only be used in the office.. With  Data must be entered into it from all manner of locations  with the custom fields specific to businesses the user is handicapped by not being able to enter the details unless in office. A Cloud system can be accessed from any where and anytime on WEB.

3. Mobile access( Android):  This is especially important for field sales personnel who not only need contact information and other basics but who may need access to sales collateral, data from back-office systems and organizational schedules in order to complete deals.  And all of this on your handheld devices.

4.  Omni channel support: Primarily because of the need to support mobile access, but for other reasons as well, support must be stronger and available through more than one channel.

5. Configurability  and customization:  One of the CRM necessities is to have the ability to configure and customize the system according the the company’s requirement.

6. Web-form Integration: This again is a feature that any company with 5 or 100 users would want to have. As we all have web forms like Inquiry page on our website and we want to automate the process and record those leads and store them somewhere. This is possible with our JSON Script.

7.Inbound and Outbound Call pop up: Off late companies want to keep track of calls and leads. All this is possible with the CTI integration. And is much more valuable when you have the database with all the details in CRM handy when someone calls second time.

8. Well defined Analytics:  whether you are looking for marketing or sales it is very important that the top management has a clear picture of the Organisation. It is must for any CRM system to have a number based report with charts that shows the sales forecasting and Marketing analytics.

Invest in in-app customer service to reduce app abandonment

A growing number of consumers are becoming mobile-first or mobile-only. Mobile interactions are displacing online interactions as the hub of many consumers’ interactions with a brand. The days when consumers would go to their PC as the first line of communication to deal with a business are behind us.

Increasingly, today’s consumers are initiating contact with a business via their mobiles, using the mobile web, messaging and apps. Consumers are using their mobile devices to learn about products, request service, get support and purchase products. As consumers shift behavior to using mobile devices to engage with businesses, businesses need to react pro-actively by providing a consistent, high-quality user experience across the web and mobile apps.

Contact Solutions’ Mobile Spend in 2015 surveyed 1,600 U.S. shoppers about their mobile shopping experience. According to the survey, app users know what they like to see in apps, and retailers seem to be responding to them. But shopper priorities change the moment they need help. When shoppers need help, they expect it immediately and effortlessly. If they are forced to leave the app to get help, 1 out of 4 shoppers will be likely to NOT make a purchase with the brand AT ALL.  Currently, consumers dislike leaving an app for help, yet they seem to have little choice. 47% of consumers are leaving the app to make phone calls to get help, 51% are leaving the app to email for help, but 44% actively dislike leaving the app.

In-app Customer Service
Invest in in-app Customer Service to reduce frustration for consumers

Consumers want seamless mobile customer care, but for the most part, businesses are forcing them to switch channels to get the help that they need. Tearing apart the brand experience, makes consumers far more likely to abandon shopping carts and brands.

Here’s what you can do to provide a fantastic customer experience for your consumers.

  1. Enable your consumers to Chat in real-time without leaving your app. Online chat is the medium that most consumers prefer over all other communication channels. It’s fast, easy and immediate. It makes communication between you and your consumers as easy as sending a text message. Now, you can let your consumers chat directly from within your mobile app, reducing consumer frustration enormously.
  2. Provide in-app FAQs to consumers and reduce support tickets. Consumers prefer to help themselves, whenever possible. 91% of consumers say they would use a knowledge base, if available. Provide an easily searchable, native FAQ solution in-app, so that consumers can help themselves, whenever they need it. The same FAQs that you provide online on your website, can now be made accessible to your mobile consumers, in-app.
  3. Allow your consumers to raise support tickets from within your app. Enable your consumers to raise tickets within your app, as easily as sending a message on Whatsapp. Whether your Support Center is available or not, messages sent in-app can be automatically created as Tickets. You can set up rules to give in-app tickets a higher priority than other tickets for faster resolution.
  4. Enable problems to get solved faster with context. Get to the root of support by getting complete consumer information including data about what device was being used, what OS was being used, app version and much more.
  5. Provide a consistent experience across channels. Give your consumers the same high-quality experience regardless of what channel they use to reach out to you. Have all customer contact interactions available centrally, so your support agents can deal with your consumers with empathy and knowledge.

Last year, Gartner reported that by 2017 mobile apps will have generated $77 billion in revenues. By then a total of 268 billion downloads will have taken place in mobile app marketplaces worldwide. Will your app be ready to ride this wave?