Your customers know what they want, and they expected it about five minutes ago.
Today’s instant gratification economy leaves brands with no time to spare. The numbers are telling: a survey found that a whopping 87% of consumers think brands need to work harder to deliver a better, more consistent customer experience. If your business can’t deliver on that, don’t be surprised to see customers walk. By the year 2020, customer experience will likely be the number-one brand differentiator, beating out price and product.
The pressure is on for brands to reduce time to resolution. Here are four ways to ensure that you deliver the demands for a ‘real-time’ customer experience every day:
Texting for customer service
Communicating via text feels natural to consumers, so what better way to build a relationship with them than through SMS? Research found that 64% of consumers think businesses should use SMS to interact with customers more often. How? Take American Airlines, for example. The airline allows travelers to opt-in for SMS updates, so you’ll always know if your flight is delayed before you leave to the airport—not when you’re already pulling up. SMS is also the perfect channel for sending coupons and offers, as you eliminate the possibility of ending up in someone’s spam folder. Sending a text to notify a patient that their prescription is ready for pick-up is more efficient than leaving a tedious voicemail. Bottom line: the habitual, non-invasive nature of SMS makes it the real-time solution that consumers want.
Sometimes, a great customer experience is one that doesn’t involve any communication at all. Automated booking takes the dreaded phone call out of scheduling an appointment. Customers value being able to browse appointment slots and book visits in real time, all without ever talking to anyone. Services like OpenTable and ZocDoc prove that whether a customer is planning a special dinner or going to the dentist, automated booking provides an easy and favorable experience. Take convenience a step further by integrating SMS reminders instead of calling and leaving voicemails.
You’ve worked hard to provide a fantastic customer experience thus far; don’t abandon your efforts at checkout. Today’s credit card chip readers are notorious for running slowly. Avoid the delay by providing easy payment methods that will have your customer smiling as they walk out the door. The Starbucks app allows busy customers to order and pay ahead of time, enabling a seamless transaction without the wait. Tap-to-pay is another quick checkout method that customers favor. Retailers and restaurants can offer e-receipts that arrive in a customer’s inbox in real time. With so many fintech companies thriving in today’s market, there’s no reason not to take advantage of easy payment tools.
RightNow’s survey found that “73% of consumers say friendly customer service representatives can make them fall in love with a brand.” Building relationships over social media is a great way to boost customer experience in real time. Engaging with customers on the platforms they spend hours on every day will foster brand awareness and can even help acquire new business. Whether you’re responding to negative comments or a satisfied customer’s compliment, the experience feels more authentic if you interact in real time. You can also use social channels for gauging customer satisfaction; always read through comments and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
The clock is ticking on your brand’s response time—don’t keep your customers waiting.