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A Quest for Superior Multichannel Customer Service


What are the new customer service channels that are gaining traction in the marketplace? How has the concept of customer care evolved? And, what are the challenges and opportunities of "social" customer service? These are some of the key questions that eMarketer considered as part of their market study.

The increased adoption of the internet has led to major changes in customer service best practices, according to the latest eMarketer assessment. Savvy shoppers already have an array of online customer service tools at their disposal -- including live chat, social networks and smartphone apps.

Today, the stakes are high for all retailers that try to keep up with the current trends. Consumers will quickly punish retailers that do not meet their customer expectations -- but they will also reward those that do.

Findings from a Q1 2012 study by the Temkin Group showed that customers are loyal to businesses that provide good customer service. In fact,  86 percent of survey respondents who reported being very satisfied with their most recent customer service interaction with a company were likely to repurchase.

In the same study, only 9 percent said they would likely purchase again after being very dissatisfied with their customer care experience.

eMarketer believes that another benefit of superior customer service is that satisfied shoppers will sometimes become brand advocates who refer other people to the retailer.

A 2012 American Express study found that 48 percent of internet users told other people about a good customer service experience. However, the survey also found that people were likely to share their bad customer service experiences.

But shoppers have different expectations and preferences for customer care depending on where they are in the purchase journey and the types of questions they have about product or service options.

A 2012 global customer experience study sponsored by Capgemini found that social media was most important in the awareness stage -- learning about products and retailer pre-sale promotions -- while smartphones were most valuable in the delivery and after-sales care stages.

Shoppers apparently like live chat as well, because it provides immediate answers to their online questions at the point of need, whether on a product web page or at purchase checkout.

Retailers also like live chat sessions because they can help to generates sales, increases customer satisfaction and deflects some of the traffic from their more costly traditional telephone call centers.

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