By: Noah Rue
Innovation is usually spoken of in relation to products, research, and development. However, every aspect of your business can be innovated. In fact, one of the most important – and often overlooked – is customer service. Innovative customer service helps you build loyalty, encourages repeat business, and can also bring in new buyers as they observe how you care for your consumers.
Here are some ways to encourage innovative customer service using the customer journey.
Share the Customer Journey Map
Many times the company’s leaders have a clear customer journey map that they use to identify different elements of the sales funnel and track conversion at each step. However, these maps are rarely shared with the front-line customer service representatives.
There are a lot of benefits to building a customer journey map and showing customer service employees specifically how they contribute to that journey. When your front-line representatives understand their role, they’ll be more engaged in what they’re doing. Most importantly, understanding the customer journey gives employees the chance to point out improvements to the process and innovative ways that your company can reach out.
For example, Apple is a brand that innovated the customer experience end-to-end. They didn’t just create unique products, they positioned them in consumers’ minds and created ultra-modern stores. Apple also created a unique user experience and unparalleled, scheduled customer service.
How can your business follow suit?
Take Advantage of Videos and Social Media
Using social media for customer service is still cutting edge, and there are dozens of ways you can do it. Social media allows you to build brand awareness, market your products and services, and most importantly, to listen to your customers. You can use social media to both proactively share customer service information and to respond to customer concerns and complaints. Both activities are publicly visible, which means that people who are not yet buyers may become customers simply because you do well with online service!
To be proactive, you’ll want to consider sharing explainer videos. This not only helps persuade people to buy, it also answers questions and shows them how to use the products and services as well. You’ll also create interaction with customers and prospects, which can help build your authority online.
Responding to customers’ concerns is another important form of interaction online. Each encounter with your brand helps shape your reputation in a person’s mind, so it’s vital to understand interaction design both online and off.
Even seemingly negative interactions can create lifelong customers when handled well. Spend time coming up with creative ways to innovate every interaction a customer has with your company to solidify your brand and win their loyalty.
Turn Immersive Advertising Into Immersive Service
Immersive advertising is a great way to make an impression in a new way. People are tired of traditional ads, and using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) can be a great way to showcase your products and services.
But why not take these same tools into customer service? Can you use VR or AR to create an immersive customer service experience, where it feels like the buyer is getting one-on-one attention? Can you incorporate virtual explanations of common problems?
Personalization is one of the keys in winning a sale, but it’s equally important when you’re looking to win ongoing loyalty. As it’s been said, “Sales without great service is like putting money into a pocket that has a hole in it.”
Take the same immersive, personalized outreach that VR and AR allow you and turn it into a one-of-a-kind service experience. This innovation allows you to build a strong connection not just at the beginning of the customer journey, but throughout the whole process.
Maintain a Culture of Innovation in Your Company
Many business leaders say they want innovation in all areas of their company, but few of them actually create a culture that fosters innovation.
Sustaining innovation in a business requires creating an environment that embraces change. It’s also important to encourage discussion and problem solving, especially in outside-the-box ways. Collaborative problem solving, trying new ideas, and integrating new ideas can’t just be a theory, it needs to be a way of life in your business.
Be the type of company that doesn’t just say they are interested in innovation, but actually works through the sometimes messy process of creating new ideas.
Innovation Vs. Disruption in the Customer Experience
Innovation and disruption are similar, but there are key differences. Disruption is creative but also destructive – it has a tendency to completely uproot the way we think about a process.
Innovation might be disruptive, but it doesn’t have to be. Innovation in the customer experience can be as simple as adding something to your existing process, or using a new media or method to address consumer concerns.
As an example, Uber was disruptive. It changed how people thought about hiring transportation and changed the entire conversation around how people travel. UberEats was innovative, but not disruptive – it was a new way to use their existing platform to provide food delivery, a service that already existed.
As you approach the customer journey for your product or service, you can look at both innovative and disruptive ways to make changes. Find new, more compelling and helpful ways to connect with customers as they consider, purchase, and use your products.
When you do, you’ll find that your company is able to stay ahead of the curve in a very competitive market.
About the author
Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, an ESL teacher, and an all around good dude, if he doesn’t say so himself.