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Differentiation in the digital era

From the Knowledge Centre

With the brand experience so directly comparable online, how can you justify premiums or an alternative approach to the customer journey?

With the brand experience so directly comparable online, how can you justify premiums or an alternative approach to the customer journey?

I think one can justify price premiums if the value exchange is there and the consumer feels that they’re getting what they paid for – here the customer service support backing up the product is often as equally important, if not more so, as the product itself. So customer service agents need to be highly trained and skilled in areas such as empathy, as well as having the autonomy to fix issues as they arise, regardless of channel. This level of permission and emotional intelligence is critical to knowing when exactly to intervene, and is driven by placing customer needs right at the heart of any solution.

While the adage that ‘you get what you pay for’ of course still applies, consumers will also tolerate different levels of service, information and proactivity from brands – particularly online where ease of access can take the brand experience in different directions. Online customer service touch points such as Facebook, Twitter and live chat deliver real benefits, but can also disrupt the customer journey, making it difficult for customer service agents to understand exactly how an interaction evolved or concluded.

Brands that offer ease of opportunity for contact and have a clear view of how they want their customer experience to be, and are embracing digital channels to shape engagement cycles, set customer engagements and influence their purchasing habits.

However, it’s also important for organisations to understand that true differentiation comes from using the most appropriate channel for each situation. Recently, for example, I was away on a short break and one of our party needed to change his flight details as he had to fly back early. As a very frequent flyer he was a member of the airline’s privilege club scheme and his trip was booked using some of his points. He called the airline on their priority service line but was told that, as his flight was less than 24 hours away, he couldn’t change it and would have to re-book another one. He had plenty of points left so was fine about this. Where he was less fine, was in being told that the advisor couldn’t rebook his flight and that he would need to do it himself on-line. So he finished the call, went on line and re-booked via a frustratingly slow Internet connection. How much better his experience would have been had the advisor taken the initiative and made the booking for him online? Next time he may well join the rest of us on our budget flight where our budget service experience actually exceeded expectations!

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