Informed, connected and open to change, the contemporary customer expects immediate and personal service at every turn of the cycle – and they’ll stay true to companies that meet their demands.

As our new ‘The State of the Connected Customer’ study reveals, customers now report a direct link between fast, personalised service and their loyalty to a brand. 

‘Personal, Immediate, and Always Available’ 

For UK customers, the immediacy, accessibility and personalisation of service has a huge influence on their likelihood of switching to a competitor: 

  • 81% of UK customers agree their loyalty is influenced by receiving an immediate response when reaching out for help
  • 71% of UK customers say it’s influenced by the availability of anytime, every day service
  • 73% of UK customers say it’s influenced by personalised customer care

But what does personalisation look like in the eyes of the increasingly connected customer?

Keeping service personal, whatever the channel

Connected customers don’t expect personalisation to depend on the channel they’re using to interact with you. 

The notion of offering ‘personal’ service extends far beyond accommodating a customer’s individual needs, but instead requires companies to know – immediately – key details about that customer’s relationship and engagement with your service in the past. In the case of UK respondents, 80% of UK customers feel strongly that companies must provide a consistent experience regardless of the platform, channel or location of contact.

Furthermore, 73% of UK customers believe it’s critical that customer service agents know their service history – saving everyone’s time during service interactions. 

This desire for informed, immediate service is indicative of a wider shift to omni-channel customer service.

Linking your service channels across a harmonious network is essential if you want to meet customer expectations; for example, previous Twitter exchanges must be visible to call centre agents if a customer calls to pursue the issue the following day. The notion of a synchronised, omni-channel service is no longer a future prospect, but a current business standard

Indeed, UK respondents feel so strongly about consistent service that 74% will not hesitate to take their business to a competitor if such expectations are neglected.

Being the absolute authority with B2B customer support

In the case of UK business buyers, they don’t just expect your agents to know everything about their service history – they expect them to be utterly on top of knowledge of your company’s offerings. In fact, 78% of UK business respondents feel it’s imperative they work “with someone who has intimate knowledge of their product or service offerings”.

The moral? It’s all well and good to know your customer, but if your service agents don’t know your own company inside out, your customers may well look elsewhere.

Remembering that time is of the essence

As you might expect, resolution time remains a key concern for the connected customer. However they choose to communicate their issues, today’s businesses need to be able to address them fast:

  • 82% of UK customers say it’s important their issue is resolved in a timely manner, and 80% that agents have immediate access to the resources they need to do this 
  • 46% say resolution time is “absolutely critical” to successful customer service

One company that’s fully committed to delivering faster, smarter customer service is Vax.

As the UK’s best-selling floor care brand, Vax wanted a customer service program to match its leading status. 

Eager to free up time for their service agents, Vax replaced its existing systems with Service Cloud. As a result of agents now spending more time conversing with customers than navigating systems, both agent basket conversion and first contact resolution have seen significant hikes. Carole Edwards, head of contact centre at Vax, says:

"Thanks to Service Cloud first contact resolution has increased from 78% to 87%.

Vax also integrated Service Cloud with its ecommerce systems to provide a ‘360-degree view’ of all customer relationships. Every call, tweet, email and review made by a customer is recorded, helping agents prepare for, and recognise customer contact with ease.

Equipped with Sales Cloud and the Salesforce1 Mobile App, Vax sales and commercial teams can communicate faster, and access customer information immediately – even on the move.

Self-service: cutting out the middle man

While every company needs a committed, enthusiastic customer service team, in the digital age, customers often treat human contact as a last resort.

As part of your omni-channel service, customers must have access to user-friendly self service solutions: 

  • Customer Portals (giving them the chance to view their service history, or perhaps engage in tech support and real-time analysis)
  • Online Communities (to seek the wisdom of their peers)
  • Interactive AI Troubleshooting (think. Cortana and Siri)

And it’s in your interests to help customers help themselves. Our State of Service report uncovered a clear correlation between the use of self-service solutions and high-performance in customer service teams, with top teams 2.4 times more likely to make extensive use of customer portals, and 3.5 times more likely to use online communities.

Moving Forward: 2020 Expectations

As consumer and business technology – AI, real-time analytics, virtual reality, the Internet of Things… – marches on, customers expect to feel the positive impact on service interactions. 

Two thirds of UK customers expect that, by 2020, customer service agents will already know who they are when they get in touch. Almost as many UK customers (61%) expect companies will provide products that can self-diagnose issues and automatically order replacement parts or servicing, while one in two expect virtual reality to be a new service channel. (This might mean smart glasses that guide customers through setting up their new purchases.)

Personal service pays off

At present, both individual consumers and business buyers are looking for faster, better-informed service experiences – whenever and however they get in touch. Companies that can meet those demands, while helping customers help themselves, can expect to be repaid with higher satisfaction, and lower churn. 

Eager to learn more about more about the changing face of service expectations? Download the full State of the Connected Customer report right now.