Thursday, January 28, 2016

Customer Service is the New Brand Battleground

By Anaal Patel

Head of Product Marketing

We have more choices today than we ever have. Need a pair of jeans? You’re in luck. Pick a store, any store and you’ll be able to find a pair. Companies compete daily with each other over who can sell more or less the same items. But in this “sea of sameness” how can companies stand out? The answer is in their customer experience. If a customer has a negative experience with a company, there is no reason to ever go back because there are so many other choices. In order for brands to win at the sameness game on what we will call the brand battleground, they need to build relationships with their customers and create an experience that encourages the customer to return.

The brand battle is yours to win but only if your company chooses to be customer-centric. This not only means resolving issues as quickly as possible but also proactively reaching out to your customers. In order to achieve fast response times and delight customers, there should be a clear “weapon of choice”– a tool that allows customer service agents to work together quickly and efficiently. There should be automated workflow, conversation history, ways to scale all built out to ensure great customer service.

But the tool can’t function on its own and that’s where the soldiers come in. Customer service agents are on the frontlines of the brand battleground. Over the years, Men’s Wearhouse has grown and changed as the needs and wants of their customers changed. When they realized the value of social media as a way to connect with customers on a personal level, they quickly put into place a team of agents in charge of delivering a great customer experience via Facebook and Twitter.

Their team of “brand-warriors” as they call them engage daily with almost 500,000 followers on social media. But it wasn’t always easy. When they first started their customer service team, they had issues with scalability. They quickly made the decision to transfer their social customers to the care department and implement Sparkcentral. Sparkcentral’s workflow made much more sense for the team and allowed them to engage more effectively in a shorter period of time.

“What’s great about social media is that it really is a two-way conversation. Whenever we introduce a new product, share some news with the press, or something notable happens with our company, we’re interested in seeing what people are saying about it on social media. It’s a source of feedback for our company. Ultimately it allows us to tailor our content and even product offerings to give our customers exactly what they want.”

The most effective “weapon” you can have on the battlefield is the ability to be constantly delighting your customers. Agents need to have the ability to maneuver quickly when problems arise, they need to be able to work together as well as independently and do so without stepping on each others’ toes
We challenge you to build a better brand. No company wants to be on the losing end of this battle and the only way to win is to provide excellent customer service.

Anaal Patel is the Head of Product Marketing at Sparkcentral.  She is passionate about the changing ways in which companies engage with their customers and loves working for a company that is shaping that future.  Prior to Sparkcentral, Anaal ran Product Marketing at Totango and Fluid, where she evangelized the future of customer-centric retail experiences.  Anaal has held several marketing roles in the B2C retail space and received her MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.  

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