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Digital success options: Price war to the bottom, or 5-star customer service to the top

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In an incredibly crowded marketplace, what’s the key to digital success? 

Consider the difference between a brand you find on Instagram, then browse their site, and a brand that you tell everyone about – a brand makes you feel genuinely better after spending your money with them. This is the difference between thoughtful customer experience and obliviousness. 

In our #CXTweetChat on Friday, October 25, 2019, one thing was made abundantly clear: the details matter, and customer service is only one part of a complete customer experience strategy. 

The best example may just be your favorite wine shop.

Every detail is thought through. The music guides you subconsciously into nostalgia. The organization of the wines takes you on a tour around the world. The sales rep, walking the aisles looking like anyone else might, has such deep knowledge about the wines that their first question isn’t “What are you looking for,” it’s, “What do you like?”

Can that experience be mimicked online? Can a brand pull on the senses and our favorite experiences to give us an altogether new experience that we come back to again and again?

Some might say Amazon has done just that. 

But they aren’t the only ones. Rising stars (often dubbed digitally native vertical brands, or DNVBs) like Chewy, Yeti, or DryBar have also figured out a way to give customers experiences (and service) that build unprecedented loyalty. 

It starts with internal culture, though. Customer service that lends a hand to excellent customer experience is a philosophy, not a fluke. 

And, if CX is a philosophy, not a random outcome or a grassroots initiative within the organization, that means that there’s one department outside of customer service, or marketing, or even sales that needs to be involved: Human Resources. 

Hiring well, and hiring those who have customer service in their DNA, is how a brand lives out the philosophy of a high bar of customer experience. 

Whether that’s hiring folks from the hospitality industry, former teachers or nurses, or even former cosmetologists, like Vincenzo Landino himself, the ability to read between the lines of what people want and what they need is a crucial skill that can rarely be taught by a business. 

After all, customer service doesn’t end when the clock strikes 5.

Social media channels are some of the biggest, and more immediate, customer service channels –– and brands need to be nearly always on. There’s a real cost benefit/loss to negative responses, tone deaf responses, or even no response at all. 

This need for always-on customer service is challenging, and presents the opportunity for robot-enhanced service. 

Employees can’t be expected to be always-on, which represents a lack of service and experience for the internal team, one that would surely be shown to customers during interactions later. 

Want to have great customer experience and service? Start with your employees –– or perhaps even how you engage with the gig economy. 

The fact of the matter is this: consumer expectations and shopping habits are changing.

Millennials, the generation holding the majority of the wallet in the U.S. right now, prefer direct-to-consumer brands (think Chewy, for example) only at a margin of 4% to legacy brands (think Nordstrom for example).

Gen Z, the up-and-coming consumer, prefers DTC brands by a margin of more than 40%

Those are huge differentials, and means that Gen Z is highly influenced to buy from brands not because of their name –– but because of their experience. 

This means that brands will have to choose to compete on one of two fronts moving forward: a pricing race to the bottom, or a customer experience race to the top. 

In fact, you can already see this playing out in airlines. 

Among those in the TweetChat, the preferred airlines were Southwest, Delta, British Airways, and American Airlines. It was clear that folks who have a preferred airline don’t just love that airline –– but even put up with customer service mistakes because of a long personal history with good experience with the brand. 

This proves something incredibly important: brands, like people, don’t have to be perfect. What matters most is speed to respond, and a deep well of empathy. 

After all, your customer wouldn’t be complaining if they didn’t care. They would’ve already moved on to your competitor. Instead, you’ve built an expectation, perhaps one that has been broken with this individual experience, but one that can certainly be mended. 

Want a few more brands to look at in terms of great examples of customer service and experience? Our #CXTweetChat had them in spades! 

Nordstrom:

Zappos:

DropBox: 

To wrap up, hire for empathy, build customer service into your internal culture, and bet on the future generation caring more than any other on how they are treated online. 

 

Emotions rule the day – and wallet. 
Join us for our next #CXTweetChat on Friday, November 22 to join in on the conversation about how emotions drive commerce and loyalty. 

Tracey Wallace
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Tracey Wallace

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