Many companies are struggling with a serious disconnect between their innovative customer support vision and their actions, which remain largely focused on the reversal of product returns, reducing cost and addressing day-to-day performance issues swiftly.
Seamless services to customers, even after a sale is made, is one of the new deciding factors in the long-term success of a company.
The key trends that are shaping the next-generation customer support trends are-
- INTEGRATION OF CUSTOMER TOUCHPOINTS
A strong customer support system is not just an ‘after-sale’ obligation for different products and services but a key driver for value generation and retention of the customer for a lifetime.
Companies are pursuing touchpoints on three levels-
- Product-line integration
More and more multi-product companies are moving toward creating a single interface for all their products to add to the comfort of customers. It is all about delivering comprehensive service experience across the entire product range, based on what different customer segments need. The product-line integration yields multiple advantages like increased customer satisfaction, more cross-selling opportunities smoother customer journeys that ultimately avoid product returns.
- Integration of Sales-service
A customer experiences a high level of comfort if it can study a product in depth, buy it and then request for post-purchase services all through a single platform. It avoids any kind of confusion, maximizes the impact on the customer regarding the company, its products and builds up an unbreakable trust.
In an environment where sales processes often engage different contact channels and customers use different touch points based on their request, situation, and mood, an ability to provide seamless customer experience across channels is a major challenge.
For permanent retention of customers and to avoid product returns you can centralize post-purchase experience touch points and optimize the value of all services that you are offering to your customers.
- DRIVE CUSTOMER CENTRICITY
It is widely believed that the product enterprises will soon become more service-centric in future, keeping in mind the high-demand of efficient post-purchase services. This makes it mandatory for the firms to phase in as customer-centric.
Customer centricity is not just about offering great customer service, it means offering a great experience from the awareness stage, through the purchasing process and finally through the post-purchase process. It’s a strategy that’s based on putting your customer first, and at the core of your business.
What companies should focus on to drive customer centricity-
- Understanding your customer
- Designing an excellent customer experience
- Empowering the front-line
- Focussing the metrics that matter
- Feedback to drive continuous improvement
- LEVERAGE SERVICE FOR LOWERING PRODUCT RETURNS
Leveraging service for product return reversal involves engaging the customer, managing the relationship proactively, cross- and up-sell to different audience segments, and, in mature markets, emphasizing service quality as a brand differentiator.
Customer service excellence secures know-how about the preferences of the customer. The more customer service insight you have, the more revenues you will get and the lower your returns would go.
Such excellence can be achieved by a scientifically designed process that seamlessly integrates four different components-
- Product support – Includes effective multi-channel pre-sales support, order management, and technical product support
- Field service support – Enables field engineers to maximize the wrench/repair time through support for activities such as debriefing, field scheduling, dispatch creation, and tool sourcing
- Parts fulfillment support – Enables the right part to be moved to the right place by supporting activities such as back-order follow up and shipment tracking, and it handles crucial functions, such as parts planning and forecasting
- Returns management – Enables intelligent screening and reduction of returns using an analytics-driven knowledge-management engine and manages the entire reverse-logistics cycle for returned products in a cost-effective manner
- INNOVATING THE CUSTOMER INTERFACE
Consumers today are accustomed to, and expect, regular interaction with companies which is possible through an innovative, flexible and easy to understand customer interface.
An innovative customer interface at once creates a high impact on the customer, such that they develop a healthy trust in the company. A good customer interface should be
- Mobile friendly
- Clear and simple
- Creative yet familiar
- Intuitive and consistent
- Responsive and maintainable
- CREATE HIGH-PERFORMANCE OPERATIONS
Organizations need to put in place a solid service foundation before moving on to establish best-in-class customer service, for continuous growth of their sales revenue. Many companies are still struggling to remedy service issues.
The first step is to engage tools and processes that can help in creating high-performance operations to optimize product return reversals. There are tools available that work towards smooth and quick on-boarding, provide personalized customer engagement, engaging in cross-selling and building networks for brand promotion. Application of such tools will represent a transformation from a necessary function for resolving customer problems into a value generating service that is a strategic differentiator in the market and a powerful means to build consumer loyalty.
Once you rule the customer loyalty lowering of product returns is apparent. Companies that commit to next-generation customer support will have to begin with an incremental process-and-tool harmonization.
In today’s mature and competitive markets, a company’s success in winning and retaining customers and lowering of product returns increasingly hinges on its customer support performance. Only a step change in customer support approach and top management commitment to invest in service innovations will allow companies to deliver on their vision of excellence in post-purchase services as a strategic differentiator.