Is your organization truly customer-centric? “Customer experience” has become the latest business buzzword, for good reason: A customer service experience that doesn’t meet expectations is one of the top three reasons why customers switch brands/products.
But claiming to put customers first is meaningless unless a company actually makes the effort to understand customer needs and problems.
That requires empathy — something that’s too easily lost in today’s digital world. While technology can’t substitute for the human touch in customer service, it can help enable empathy and give your organization the customer service edge. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, organizations that build customer empathy into their CRM processes will be three times as likely to survive digital disruptions as those that don’t.
Empathetic customer relationship management
Among the characteristics of empathetic customer relationship management, Gartner identifies five that particularly stand out:
- Channel convenience for the customer
- Timely response
- Deep knowledge of the customer's problem
- Proactivity in customer engagement
- Being helpful and friendly
Let’s take a closer look at each of these best practices and how the right CRM solutions can help your organization deliver.
1. Channel convenience for the customer
Too often, companies add multichannel options for customer service, hoping to meet the needs of every customer. But if not implemented properly, these multichannel communication methods can cause more problems than they solve.
If the customer’s issue can't be resolved via live chat, do they have to start all over again with a phone call? What happens if that customer service rep has no knowledge of the live chat? There are few things that frustrate customers more than having to repeat the same information over and over to customer support.
When multiple customer service channels are integrated into one unified communications platform, however, both customers and customer support employees benefit.
2. Timely response
The faster your CRM can deliver necessary information to a customer service rep, the faster the business can resolve the customer's problem. Essential information could include data about a customer’s purchase history or previous interactions with customer service. It could also include one customer service rep assisting another by sharing knowledge or processes. For example, Nextiva’s NextOS service CRM has internal chat so employees can get assistance from team members without leaving customer conversations. An internal Wiki displays relevant information customer service reps need to resolve problems right on their screen. Gartner estimates that rapid delivery of information can reduce customer service representatives’ response time by up to 80%.
3. Deep knowledge of the customer's problem
When the customer service team has access to previous information about customer interactions, purchases, and customer support issues, they are equipped with the knowledge they need to respond appropriately and offer in-depth assistance. This enhances your organization’s reputation for excellence. In fact, each customer interaction can deepen your understanding of that customer’s concerns, and capturing this interaction in the CRM makes that understanding available to everyone.
4. Proactivity in customer engagement
The unified communications platform for customer service can go beyond simply solving problems to proactively preventing them. For example, if a significant number of customers in a certain industry are all having the same customer service issue, you may want to proactively reach out to others in that industry to offer assistance or check up on their satisfaction.
Customer service reps can also suggest special offers, additional products or services to purchase, or tips for making the best use of the product or service the customer currently has. Once customers are satisfied with your customer support, reps are in an ideal position to engage them with new offers tailored to their needs and previous purchases.
5. Being helpful and friendly
Increased customer satisfaction is just one benefit of implementing a service CRM. Increased employee satisfaction is another. The happier and more engaged customer service reps are at work, the more helpful and friendly they can be. “Improving front-line rep engagement and reducing turnover” is a top goal for customer service leaders, according to Gartner.
An intuitive, effective service CRM reduces common frustrations that customer support reps face. Research shows more than 50% of employees have considered leaving their jobs because of fragmented communication overload. Choosing technology that automates workflow and speeds up customer service processes gives employees more time to focus on the human side of customer service.
For example, Nextiva’s NextOS unified communications platform automates repetitive processes and requests. Smart routing and prioritization ensures customers get to the right place quickly. Because it’s cloud-based, you can keep costs down and quickly scale as needed.
The rewards of customer empathy
It’s predicted that by 2021, the largest category of enterprise software spending will be on CRM solutions. No wonder: empathetic CRM can improve efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction and generate revenue growth.
Nextiva’s NextOS unified communications platform gives you everything you need to provide empathetic customer service. It integrates service CRM, along with live chat, email, customer surveys, voice calls and more, for an all-in-one solution that delivers a better customer experience.