Customers expect a fantastic experience when they engage with your business. In today’s digital world, that simple truth applies not only to the human interactions buyers have with your brand representatives, but also to how easily they can navigate your automated processes.
Why should you care? Well, studies show that 86 percent of buyers say they’re willing to pay more for a product if the company behind it offers an enhanced customer experience. Research also suggests that the customer experience might soon outweigh both price and product as the top deciding factor when it comes to purchases. In other words, you can’t afford to not to prioritize service.
Struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing consumer service demands of today’s marketplace? You’re not alone. Many businesses have turned to self-service technologies as a way to interact with customers 24/7, yet they still haven’t found the right mix between automated and live-agent service solutions. Thus appears the recurring question: What’s the best way to grow a meaningful customer relationship while using self-service tools?
CLIENT COMMUNICATION IN AN AUTOMATED WORLD: PERSONALIZATION IS KEY
The answer lies in personalized communications. Decades ago, when retailers began marketing and selling their products online, many buyers lost the human interaction they had valued in the purchasing process. As eCommerce became more popular, marketers learned that they had to evolve their tactics to continue to reach their time-strapped and overstimulated buyers successfully. In an automated, standardized world, a personalized customer experience became the key to keeping customers connected and happy.
Using the same philosophy, customer service teams can leverage segmentation and data models to ensure their customer service interactions are tailored to their buyers. Doing so allows support teams to make sure low-touch communications (confirmations or follow-ups) are automated, while high-value experiences (errors or complex problems) get moved to live agents to be handled with a more personal touch.
Therefore, the vital piece of the puzzle is figuring out which customer interactions are best automated, so your live customer service agents can focus on delivering personalized client interactions when they really count.
ONLINE APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING: A BOON TO CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT
Among consumers, one self-service tool that has proved to be a fan favorite is online appointment scheduling. The premise: Instead of calling up a business to book, reschedule, or cancel appointments over the phone, customers can schedule their own appointments from the convenience of their computer or mobile phone at any time, and from any place.
At first glance, it would seem that offering online scheduling puts even more distance between you and your customers, but in actuality, the opposite is true. Here are five ways online scheduling helps you build relationships with your client base:
- Online scheduling is faster. Trying to make an appointment the “old-fashioned way” can be complicated for customers. To reach booking agents during regular business hours, they have to take time out of their workday to schedule by phone. Then, there’s the matter of hold times and how long it takes to go back and forth comparing calendars. The worst part? The process starts all over again if they need to reschedule or cancel. While the personal touch of speaking to a live customer service rep at your business might be nice, it simply can’t offset that level of frustration and time sink that often comes with booking by phone.
- Online scheduling provides valued convenience. Offering your clients the ability to schedule online lets them book appointments when it’s convenient for them: while they’re waiting to pick up their kids, during their two-minute coffee break, or wherever they are when they suddenly remember that booking that appointment is on their to-do list. If customers can quickly pull up your booking page and select a time and date that works for them, their relationship with your business becomes one of convenience, not stress.
- Online scheduling empowers customers. Making an appointment online allows customers to handpick their services, providers, and options, along with their preferred date and time. They can take charge of their booking experience without getting the “hard sell.” Your customers will value the easy, low-pressure experience.
- Online scheduling reduces errors. Even well-trained employees can make mistakes when interacting with customers to book appointments. An erroneous keystroke or misunderstanding of a customer’s request can lead to a rep’s scheduling the wrong services. The result? Annoyed clients and over- or under-booked providers. Allowing customers to make their own selections online greatly reduces the potential for mistakes in the booking process.
- Online scheduling provides a personalized experience. Let’s face it: Responding to your customers with a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t make them feel special. Online scheduling technology can take into account the varied and unique needs of your clients. For example, using a single login allows customers to access your self-service function without being required to sign in repeatedly. A populate function allows clients to automatically fill in data fields and other site information if they are already entered on a related page. And storing individual users’ self-service history allows you to provide them with helpful content for their next scheduling experience.
As more and more consumers demand service on their terms, many businesses are having a hard time striking the right balance between automated support solutions and live-agent help. Thankfully, with self-service applications like online appointment scheduling, your company doesn’t have to choose between automation and personalization. The result is delighted clients, a boost to your brand’s reputation, and a scalable process that’s a win-win across the board.