Retailers face a stark choice for 2018: Embrace empathy or lose customers
By Oisin Lunny, chief evangelist, OpenMarket
There's a lot of buzz about empathy when it comes to customer experience, primarily what it means, and why it's important. But, what is often overlooked is how to use it. In simple terms, it's all aboutpredicting your customers' needs and staying two steps ahead of them. It's about connecting with your customers in a meaningful way by showing you care about them on an individual level.
The end result? Happy customers, brand loyalty, and a healthy bottom line. For those brands that don't heed the message, well, they may not be around to ring in many more New Years in the minds of consumers.
So, how exactly do you do it?
SMS is not dead, so embrace it
We get it, SMS has been around the block. Since the early days of our Nokia phones, text messaging has been a staple channel, but SMS is only getting better with age. In parallel with the exponential growth of mobile phones, SMS has matured into a globally ubiquitous communication tool capable of reaching any customer's mobile device, exactly when they need it. Whether you're sending a shipping or delivery notification, order confirmation (or cancellation), receipt, or account information, all these time-sensitive communications are best handled via the short, real-time aspects of text.
While email may seem a viable option in these situations, that's not the case. Customers are flooded with so many emails a day; they're essentially blind to new ones arriving in their inbox. This truth is only heightened when it's from a business. Look at the facts — the open rate for text messages is 98 percent, compared to 20 percent of emails. With over five billion unique mobile phone subscribers on the planet, SMS is the superior channel for any time sensitive, high-priority customer interactions.
Meeting and exceeding expectations
As a brand, it's good to meet expectations, but it's great to exceed them. This is the secret to merely staying afloat, and soaring above the competition. You can exceed expectations in a number of ways, but in order to get it right every time, simply asking what they want and knowing how to deliver is the most efficient and effective route.
The best way to know what your customers are thinking so you can continue to communicate even better and raise the bar on your own service — is to send out a quick survey via SMS. For instance, a text survey right after a customer has bought from your website, when they're still top of mind, makes it much more likely to get a response.
Forget voice-enabled surveys and websites that require the customer to take time out of their day to listen or log on — make it quick and convenient with a 1-10 rating scale sent right to their text inbox that can be answered instantaneously and without fuss.
The success recipe calls for a little bit of everything
Like everything in life there's unfortunately no one-size-fits-all solution for every customer engagement scenario. The key to creating lasting empathetic interactions with your customers is to keep the communication doors open through every channel available to you. Be it text message, voice, email, or social media, there's a time and place for everything, and knowing which works best for each scenario is the key to hitting the CX mark.
For instance, if you're sending important documents a customer needs to save for their files, or if you're sending hefty content pieces like e-newsletters, brochures and product guarantees, email is your ticket. If a customer is in need of an answer to a complex question with various intricacies involved in the explanation and solution, a voice call or video-chat platform is best.
Empathy is all about connecting with your customers in the way that's best for them, and that comes from a combination of communication channels to ensure you're delivering value at the right moment, in the right channel, every single time.