Last year, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Parature, a leading provider of ‘cloud-based customer engagement solutions’. Translation – Microsoft gained the ability to offer customer self-service portals and integrate a fantastic range of functions to its Dynamics CRM platform, from knowledge-bases to instant messaging and live chat – social forms of customer service.
Customer self-service, sometimes called CSS, is an increasingly important factor for modern businesses to consider. Whether you attribute it to the rise of mobile internet and customers’ consequent connectedness on the move, the proliferation of social media platforms and forums handing more power to the consumer, or simply the increasing savviness of buyers – whatever the cause, organisations that don’t acknowledge and work with their customers’ desire for independence and flexibility are missing out.
According to Aberdeen Research, contact centres without omni-channel capabilities are twice as likely to incur costs in customer care, plus there is an increase of 28% in customer satisfaction at the ability to use their preferred channel.
Comprehensive customer self-service involves combining contact centres, CRM systems, technical support teams and service or product information behind a single online ‘omni-portal’ for customer to access when they need to. Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Parature from Microsoft can provide businesses with this self-service portal, which can contain any combination of the elements below; crucial for customer engagement and satisfaction.
Rather like a dynamic, interactive user manual, an online knowledge-base allows customers to access detailed services and support information, 24/7. By exploring it at their leisure, customers can get in-depth information and answers in a truly bespoke manner – and, crucially, without direct input required from the business’s in-house support team. In this context, a customer self-service portal is not only a hefty customer benefit, but also an exercise in streamlining and cost-efficiency for the business in question.
Click to chat
Self-explanatory, maybe. We’ve all landed on websites as potential buyers and been presented with an instant messaging bubble as part of the sales process. Statistics show that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.Click to chat is a compelling option for ongoing customer management – one that can empower customers, free up support teams and ensure that more minor queries are dealt with either by customers themselves or via a more casual engagement process. A customer independently searching for answers transitions seamlessly to a personal, one-to-one engagement with the business. In turn, this links to…
When a customer does need to log either a complaint or a technical query they are unable to resolve via an online knowledge-base, it’s vital to ensure that cases are routed to the correct department and that the most serious or time-sensitive cases are prioritised accordingly. A sophisticated ‘omni portal’ such as Parature from Microsoft can handle this as part of the overall customer self-service strategy.
Again, social media channels are well-recognised by most organisations as an essential part of pre-sales marketing, but they also have a crucial role to play in ongoing customer management. Twitter in particular is an ideal platform for customers to make short, snappy enquiries, and an online portal can be an ideal means of consolidating it with other channels.
We can see, then, some common strands across the different elements of customer self-service. Implemented properly, these technologies hand power to both the customer and the service provider. Always-available, dynamically searchable information and flexible communication channels empower customers to find their own way through particular technical challenges or queries, while ensuring that when they do need to contact the business directly, they can do so in the manner that suits them best. Meanwhile the business frees up time and resource from simple or irrelevant enquiries, and enjoys vastly improved customer engagement.
Which in turn leads to – you guessed it – vastly improved customer retention.
Speak to Prodware about how a multi-channel approach and a self-service portal, integrated within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, can assist with enhanced support for your customers.