The first week of October is Customer Service Week, an event that’s permanently on my radar from my days in customer service. That’s where I learned the importance of treating customers like ‘kings’, 365 days a year. But many companies still struggle to get customer service right. So I thought I’d kick off the month with a blog about customer service and some thoughts on how to give customers the royal treatment, not just for one week, but every day of the year.
By Charles Brewer, CEO DHL eCommerce.
In today’s digital age we’re becoming more and more accustomed to dealing with machines rather than people – and it’s a trend that’s only going to grow. Despite that, customer service is more important now than ever, especially in e-commerce. In the absence of the human-factor, it’s crucial that every step of a customer’s online shopping experience is a positive one, and if it goes wrong, that there’s someone, or something(!), available immediately to help.
Customer loyalty has always been a fickle thing but today it’s harder than ever to keep a customer loyal. In the past, they might have put up with bad service because of lack of choice. Nowadays, an alternative is just a click away.
The trick to ensuring customers don’t just browse your website, but stick around to purchase and then come back again and again, is a great customer journey and an unbeatable service, both on and off-line.
Losing them along the way
But it’s much easier said than done. The customer journey is a long one. It starts from the first interaction with a website, and goes all the way through to successful delivery and the occasional return. And it’s incredibly easy to lose a customer at any point along the way.
That’s why it’s so important to think about customer experience – basically how customers experience your brand and how well you treat them while they’re interacting with it. Do it right and they’ll come back again and again. Do it badly and you’ll lose them for good. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Getting the online part of the customer journey is crucial. But the part that happens in the real world is just as important…
A customer service report from Business Intelligence found 60% of consumers said they had not completed an intended purchase due to a poor customer service experience.
Getting the online part of the customer journey is crucial. But the part that happens in the real world is just as important because that’s where e-tailers ensure the consumer comes back.
Winning hearts and minds
Let’s face it, who are you most likely to use again – the company that sends a rude, unhelpful delivery guy, or one whose courier climbs the stairs to your fifth-floor apartment and delivers your package with a smile? Or better still, the company that delivers to the most convenient location and lets you know exactly when it’s going to be there.
Logistics is the human element of the ‘customer journey’ and that’s why it’s so important to get it right. Companies like ours have to make the logistics and fulfillment of e-commerce as exciting as the online shopping experience. We have to delight consumers with our delivery and offer best-in-class fulfillment, because that’s where you win the consumers’ hearts and minds – and also where you could lose them.
Take our customer Healthy Chef. We’ve helped the Sydney based health food business improve their back-end fulfillment processes which has freed them up to expand into new markets. We brought all their stock into one location, improved stock visibility by introducing one standard system, and also improved their picking accuracy. The result: order fulfillment went up from 30-40 to 80-100 orders per day. With our help, Healthy Chef has been able to focus more on customer experience, extend their product range and grow their business in other international markets.
Many companies are already making use of chat-bots to answer the most common customer queries.
In Mexico, we helped customer Hawkers increase picking productivity accuracy and improve their last mile delivery. We integrated a DHL Fulfillment model in a shared-use facility with DHL Supply Chain which gives them room to grow. We also introduced an order management and warehouse system and made it easier for operators to pick and pack. Our actions improved productivity by some 30% per annum and improved on-time delivery from 80% to 99.5%. Orders have doubled the volumes per year and returns have been reduced by 1%. All of which has helped position Hawkers as the leader in e-commerce sunglasses in Mexico and LATAM.
Giving them the royal treatment
Picking the right partner for each leg of the customer journey is vital, and delivering a great customer experience at each touch point and throughout the journey is essential. It doesn’t even have to be a human these days. Many companies are already making use of chat-bots to answer the most common customer queries. The beauty of using AI is that the technology never sleeps, so customers can get help 24/7, and a chat-bot never tires of dealing with grumpy customers.
Whether it’s a person or a bot, having a contact on the end of a phone line, or answering posts on social media in real-time often goes a long way to making sure customers feel they’re getting the kind of royal treatment they deserve.
And don’t forget to always deliver the smile in the last mile!
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