How intelligent software can improve support in times of crisis – eCommerce Magazine

The changed consumer behavior also creates new opportunities and challenges for companies in online retail: According to data from AfterPay Insights, online purchases by Germans in April rose by 36 percent compared to the time before the corona pandemic. At the same time, the Number of support requests doubled compared to March 2019, putting massive pressure on customer service in many industries.

Customer support for longer delivery times is crucial

Many online shops are still struggling with the aftermath of plant closings in China and the rest of the world: While large marketplaces usually have enough resources to build up alternative production and supply chains and fill their warehouses, smaller providers have not been able to open up as quickly react to the situation. In addition to the loss of production, both international and national transport are affected. According to the Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order Germany, almost 60 percent of companies report delivery delays in March.

In order to meet the increased information needs of customers against this background and to remain attractive despite delivery bottlenecks, this is above all Customer support required and must guarantee excellent service. If shipping is delayed or a product is not available, this should be communicated proactively. In addition, companies should answer customer inquiries quickly and easily.

Customer service: How a CRM system can support employees

To manage the flood of customer inquiries in times of crisis, modern customer relation management is essential. Without this, the service desk staff would have to answer thousands of messages manually every day – this massive burden leads to a decline in quality, loss of customers and ultimately sales.

Freshworks’ latest survey “The New Rules of Customer Engagement” shows how critical customers are in e-commerce. 3,000 customers in six countries – including Germany – became theirs Customer engagement experiences questioned. In the study, 41 percent of Germans surveyed stated that they had broken off contact with a brand last year after only having had a bad service experience.

Customer service: manage customer calls from one place

In order to avoid that the workload of the employees is too great and customer inquiries go under or are insufficiently answered, companies should all conversations from different channels, such as email, phone, live chat or social media, from a central location manage. Through a shared inbox and using predefined factors, the CRM system can then categorize incoming tickets, prioritize them and assign them to the right account manager or team.

If a negative evaluation is received, it is recognized and the corresponding manager is alerted. Automatic customer notifications, pre-formulated answers to frequently asked questions or a self-service portal can also be useful functions to give employees the time they need to deal with urgent and complex inquiries. Even in post-corona times, a central system helps to support customers through different channels.

Artificial intelligence can significantly reduce the volume of requests

Answering recurring inquiries is unfortunately still part of everyday life in customer service in many companies – this does not have to be the case and can be avoided by using automation and AI. Thanks to the forward-looking skills that artificial intelligence enables, the customer can be a special one intuitive and seamless conversation experience are offered in support. Chatbots and digital assistants, so-called conversational user interfaces, are ideal for answering simple questions, such as the availability or delivery status of products.

On the other hand, there are so-called agent-assist bots to support the customer service teams, who use a knowledge base to suggest possible answer options to employees. In this way, the service desk agents can identify which solution makes sense when communicating with the customer and simply click on it. The procedure not only ensures consistency in the answers, but also increases employee productivity.

Customer service: instant messenger as a popular communication channel

Especially in times of crisis, direct communication with companies is extremely important to many people. That’s why messengers like WhatsApp & Co. are becoming more and more popular in e-commerce and for fast and direct Communication in customer service Used – 92 percent of customers prefer chat over other forms of customer support, such as phone, email, and social media. Service management solutions therefore increasingly offer the option of using a live chat on the website, for example through an interface to WhatsApp Business or Facebook Messenger.

The use of instant messengers results in a number of advantages that benefit customer satisfaction:

  • Low entry hurdle: in Germany, 58 million people use WhatsApp
  • By integrating bots customers get a quick response
  • Customer calls can be made via video and clarify voice call questions directly
  • Customers can be proactive are provided with reliable information, for example with order and payment updates
  • With a FAQ in chat customers can help themselves

Maximize website conversions with customer messaging

Before there is any direct conversation with a customer service representative, many customers first go to the company’s website. The homepage as an online figurehead also wins through the increasingly digital consumer behavior became increasingly important during the corona pandemic. In order to benefit from this, companies should not only pay attention to attract as many visitors to their own website – ultimately, the key to success is converting this traffic into valuable leads.

Customer messaging on the website can solve this problem. Customer messaging is a new form of engagement and sales that enables companies to accompany the user through meaningful conversations through to the purchase. Here, as with all other forms of digital customer service – whether CRM solutions, intelligent service desk agents or instant messenger – ultimately, empathy with the consumer should always be the focus. Traditional aggressive sales methods have had their day. Instead, customers choose companies that communicate on an equal footing, listen to the individual needs of consumers and convince with personalized content.

Customer service: central aspects of customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is not only an issue during the crisis, but is also a perennial favorite for companies in all industries. The Freshworks study also shows what customers value most. The fact that 56 percent of consumers worldwide already refrained from doing business with a brand after a bad service experience illustrates the high relevance of the topic for companies.

especially the Customer service availability around the clock and on numerous channels will become even more important in the next few years. To do this, companies must ensure that information is effectively exchanged between customers and employees or across employee channels. One of the biggest annoyances for customers is having to repeat themselves after being forwarded to another contact person if information already given has not been saved. The preservation of contextual data should therefore be guaranteed. This information can also be used proactively for other services, such as product recommendations.

This shows that expectations of customer service will increase significantly in the future – and this development could be accelerated by the pandemic. To keep customers, companies have a duty to live up to these expectations. A seamless and continuously available contact forms the basis to enable the customer to have consistently positive experiences and individual service – and thus to bind him to his own company as permanently as possible. (sg)

Freshworks Leucke
Jens Leucke is General Manager DACH at Freshworks.

About the author: Jens Leucke is responsible for General Manager at DACH Freshworks building a comprehensive team of sales talents and experts, presales, partner management and customer success management in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He has experience in sales, from medium-sized to large companies, and previously worked in sales, presales and customer service for international IT companies. As a result, he offers extensive experience in the development of business strategies and their implementation, as well as extensive IT know-how through the Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW).

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