Ben Motteram is the Founder and Principal of CXpert.
CXpert is a boutique customer experience consultancy based in Melbourne, Australia that helps businesses improve customer relationships, increase loyalty, and grow by engaging staff and delivering exceptional service. A specialist in aligning companies around the voice of the customer, Ben has worked with some of Australia’s most well respected brands to improve customer centricity and overall profits.
You have over 20 years’ experience in customer experience; in your opinion, how has it changed with the development of digital customer support?
“Convenience is the key benefit to the users of digital customer support. No longer do they have to take the time out of their busy days to make their way to a company’s store or fumble their way through a convoluted IVR to get through to a contact centre agent. Customers can now go online when it suits them and either self-serve, be guided by an agent, or utilise the support of an online community to do what they want to do.
For companies it has meant a reduced cost to serve and smart companies, like Amazon, are funnelling those cost savings back into improving the online experience of their customers to further differentiate themselves from their competitors.”
As you say on your website, today, the competition is everywhere, not only in the same city or country; how can online retailers stand out from the intense online competition?
“Customer experience is the final differentiator. This applies to online retailers and indeed all industries. So online retailers need to remove the obstacles that stand between their customers and a seamless experience i.e make it as easy as possible to do business with them. And secondly, they need to make the online experience enjoyable – delight their customers with things they would value but wouldn’t expect.
Doing this requires an intimate understanding of their customers and the ability to apply that understanding to improve the service they are offering.
The challenge for pureplay online retailers will come from their competitors that span both the on and offline worlds. Retailers with a “bricks and mortar” presence can provide a more holistic experience and will soon be able to take advantage of new technologies such as the Inspiration Corridor and the Memory Mirror to wow their customers.”
According to you, what are the most popular customer support channels in Australia and why?
“Traditional voice is still king in Australia but channels like email, live chat, mobile apps, and social media are all experiencing double digit growth as support channels. The reason? Again it comes back to convenience for customers.”
As a customer, which channel do you prefer and why?
“My two personal favourites are live chat and social. I’ll use live chat because it is immediate, its convenient – I can access it from my desktop and it allows me to continue working in the background – and it provides me with a written transcript of the conversation which can be very useful when commitments are being made that I need to refer back to later.
I enjoy using social for it’s convenience and transparency particularly when I have a gripe with a company. I’m always interested to see how a brand handles my complaint when its in a public forum.”
What tips would you give companies that want to improve the customer service they provide via social media?
“My tips to companies that want to extend customer service through their social media channels are: commit to it, plan for it, devote the required resources to it, and align your social strategy with your overall customer service strategy. Once you have a social profile up and running, be open, honest, genuine, authentic, responsive, and own your mistakes.”
Since we live in the Age of the Customer, what advice would you give a company aiming to offer the best possible online customer service?
“Listen to your customers, solicit feedback from them about how they want to interact with you online, regularly view your business from their perspective, constantly innovate to remove the hurdles associated with doing business with you and introduce new services that will either reduce customer effort or improve their quality of life.”
Finally, we know you also care about employee empowerment. Could you tell us about your best moment as a professional in the customer experience sector?
“There have been many great moments in this job but one of the most rewarding was seeing the positive change that came about as a result of implementing an innovative customer feedback solution within a contact centre. The real benefit came as a result of allowing the contact centre agents to hear customer verbatims very soon after the interaction and allowing them to overlay the customer feedback with their own thoughts on the interaction. In effect, the solution was a customer AND employee feedback tool.
Hearing feedback from customers not only made the staff more customer centric but engaged them as well. It also increased their speed to competency and reduced training times.”
You can contact Ben via Twitter at @CXpert, on Facebook at CxpertConsulting or through LinkedIn.