Before social media and smartphones, brands primarily engaged with customers via one-way advertising channels like established print, radio, and three to five main television channels. Social media disrupted that top-down dynamic, opening up the conversation to include the customer in unprecedented ways.
Brands no longer control customer behavior regarding what people share about companies. People can click away, swipe left, or post something negative if they aren’t happy. On the bright side, happy customers and brand evangelists can also be a company’s best sales tool.
To stay competitive, companies are paying more attention to their customers’ experience as they move through their journey before, during, and after the sale. While there are many pitstops in the customer journey, customer service is where the rubber meets the road. Dissatisfied customers are more likely to switch brands and spread negative word of mouth.
So how do companies manage customer relationships and keep people happy? The answer lies with customer engagement. In a broad marketing sense, customer engagement seeks to decrease customer attrition while increasing revenue, brand loyalty, purchases, referrals, and cross-selling.
A customer engagement platform deploys software to help the customer service function drive those engagement goals. Choosing the right platform is a crucial decision for executing a customer engagement strategy and increasing customer satisfaction.
Why Are Customer Engagement Platforms Important?
Based on studies of more than 8,000 customer journeys, Gartner finds that 70% of customers are using self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey. At the basic level, customer engagement platforms are essential because people expect to be able to get help after the sale, when and where they need it.
From a strategic viewpoint, many brands realize that customer retention significantly influences the company’s bottom line. Acquiring customers is challenging and expensive. Keeping existing customers happy is critical to maximizing profit.
Gartner reports that 96% of customers experiencing high friction with a company are more likely to become disloyal, purchase less in the future, and spread negative information to discourage others from becoming customers.
Similar to moving a relationship beyond casual dating, the customer engagement platform creates a personalized experience that shows customers you understand them and value their time. They will decide in this phase whether or not to further trust your brand. Customer engagement platforms are important because they directly affect customer churn, brand loyalty, and customer lifetime value. (CLV).
One of the challenges to optimizing customer success is the increase in the number of devices and channels customers use to interact with companies. During a service call, they may use a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. Customers expect to be able to use one or more of those devices to search for information or contact a company via chat, social media platforms, and live phone calls.
Capturing your customer’s entire journey, regardless of channel or device, allows agents to deliver proactive, personalized customer service consistently. By providing a full picture of the customer’s context, solutions like Kayako’s Single View deliver frictionless customer service experiences for both your customers and your team.
Intelligent Automation of Customer Experience
Providing an excellent customer experience involves predicting what customers want to do and providing the right tools to help them achieve their goals.
Most customers expect self-service options, and others may prefer to jump straight to a live call, which is more expensive for the company. Are there points you can automate suggestions? Chatbots, automated triggers, and routing can save customers time and companies money by reducing the number of live agent calls.
How Do Customer Engagement Platforms Improve the Customer Experience?
Customers may want or need to switch channels during the same service interaction. Salesforce reports that common channels service organizations use include:
Social media – 72%
Online forms – 68%
Customer portals – 64%
Messenger apps – 55%
Online chat/live support – 52%
Agents juggling multiple channels without a unified view may experience confusion or a loss of information. When customer engagement platforms create a unified view of the customer journey, the service agent can address customer needs quickly and efficiently. 84% of service professionals say a unified view of customer information is key to providing great customer experiences.
The customer engagement platform not only provides better customer relationship management tools for the team but also helps reduce customer effort. This is important because one study reports that 81% of customers who had to spend a lot of effort on their customer service journey will consider spreading negative word of mouth about the company.
On the flip side, reducing effort for your customers can lead to future loyalty. You can see a real-world example: Kayako helped CoinStop reduce average response time and implement omnichannel customer support.
What Are the Features of Customer Engagement Platforms?
What should you look for in a customer engagement platform? Let’s look at a few features.
While customers expect the option to use self-service, if they can’t find the answer quickly, they want to access live help instantly. Hubspot reports that 60% of customers expect an immediate response when contacting live chat. Phone calls and video chats also provide opportunities to drive brand awareness, loyalty, and sales via personalized engagement.
Live chat can also decrease the number of live calls. Millennials, in particular, prefer chat over live calls. Many consumers use messaging apps for conversations. They expect to be able to use chat for customer service, too. Chat’s informal context can help build trust and increase brand loyalty and affiliation.
Live Chat is valuable not only for customer support but also for sales. Sometimes prospects will engage with live chat before making a purchase. Companies need a solution that smoothly addresses each phase of the customer journey. Kayako’s live chat software helps your team support customers engage visitors and convert prospects in real-time.
Knowledge bases are powerful repositories of company information that can increase in value over time. They contain internal and external sources of information.
An internal knowledge base hosts company documents and also captures organic internal social conversations and in-the-moment learning. Why are internal social conversations meaningful? Because accessing the information shared in social conversations can save employees a lot of time. They don’t have to search to find an answer if someone on the team has already found it and added it to the knowledge base.
Companies can also repurpose internal information into external knowledge bases for prospects and customers outside the organization. For example, a Self-Service Feature helps customers help themselves and is available to internal and external stakeholders.
79% of US consumers say they have used a self-service portal for customer service. Why? 65% use self-service channels because they like the convenience and don’t want to talk to agents or wait on hold to do simple routine tasks.
88% of customers expect companies to have self-service options. A clear, robust, easy-to-search self-service option helps reduce friction. A glitchy or confusing experience will lead to more live calls with annoyed customers.
Good self-service portals not only create happy customers but also free up live agent time. A customer self-service portal is an important tool for improving customer satisfaction and increasing loyalty.
Part of providing as seamless an experience as possible for customers is to engage with them from multiple channels. With unified capabilities such as Kayako’s Social customer service, agents can support and engage customers over Twitter and Facebook from within the Kayako dashboard.
The dashboard retains all previous service ticket details, no matter if the customer engaged via live chat, email, or phone. When customers don’t have to repeat themselves, it saves them time and gives them more confidence in the company, which drives brand loyalty and customer retention.
Moving Ahead with Customer Engagement
As you can see, a customer engagement platform can make or break your customer experience and influence many important revenue metrics. While there are many moving parts, the place to start improving your customer experience is to provide your customer support team with a unified view of the customer journey.
Are you ready to deliver Friction-Free Customer Service? Capture your customer’s entire journey in a way a support ticket or traditional help desk never could. Discover Kayako Single Vi