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4 Tools You Need To Design A Stellar Customer Experience

Category: B2B News
What are the tools you need to design a solid customer experience strategy?

There are four essential tools that comprise the foundation of an efficient and consistent customer experience program for any business, namely:

  1. Help desk
  2. Live Chat
  3. CRM
  4. Marketing automation

In this article, we’ll discuss how each of these tools helps boost customer experience and the key features to look for. We’ll also highlight the reason why getting all these tools as a suite is better than subscribing to separate, and often, disparate, apps.

Companies are talking more about customer experience (CX) these days and less of customer service as we know it. But what is customer experience?

Put broadly, the definition of customer experience is the customer’s sum impression of the brand based on his cumulative interactions with the company. He would have gone through a variety of brand touchpoints–such as ads, sales calls and help desk–and environments including visits to your brick-and-mortar shop and online sites.

A successful CX means the customer has positive experiences in all these contacts with you, reinforcing his willingness to do business with you. Clearly, we’re not talking about just customer service here; CX spans marketing, sales and service interactions with customers. Neither are we talking about one-purchase events; rather, long-term customer relationships that reap steady profits.

Source: “Digital Marketing Trends” Econsultancy.

Why you need to up the ante on your customer service

CX isn’t just another jargon or hype sweeping across industries and businesses only to be forgotten in a few years. It is the result of shifting customer behavior. The shifts are abrupt, if not disruptive, caused by rapid technological advances and social media connectivity. The result?

  1. Customers are demanding personalized service
  2. Customers want to get answers fast
  3. Customers are perpetually on social media ready to talk about you
  4. Customers will drop you like a hot potato for another company should you fail to meet the things above

This article talks about the tools to get your CX project off the ground. It assumes that you have a CX strategy already in place or at least in mind. If not, Kellogg Insight lays bare for you how to design a customer experience strategy here. The takeaways:

  1. Identify the touchpoints of your customers
  2. Throw some fun in these touchpoints
  3. Have a centralized customer database
  4. Be aware of other CX strategies, not just in your industry
  5. Talk to your customers what they want

4 Tools To Design A Stellar Customer Experience

We have identified four tools that should boost your CX strategy. These tools can be had separately or as a suite (we’ll discuss later why a suite is the better option, one is that some tools have overlapping functions). But it’s helpful to present them in this deconstructed way to help you identify specific functionalities required to cover all the bases in CX.

Likewise, what you should look for across these tools are all or some of these general features: dashboards, automation, collaboration platform, analytics, mobile apps, real-time notification, customization, usability, and scalability.

1. Help desk software

At the core of CX is still customer support, where the majority of customer interactions happen. Hence, the first thing on our list is getting help desk software. Make sure your help desk is not old or limited. You need an advanced solution to achieve the following CX benefits. If you need to upgrade we recommend HubSpot Service Hub, which has earned positive user reviews consistently and a high satisfaction rating among our readers. If you want to try its features at no cost you can easily sign up for a HubSpot Sales free trial here.

Having a unified inbox ensures all tickets are accounted for and avoids agent collision (image HubSpot Service Hub)

How it boosts customer experience

  1. Speed up issue resolution. Repetitive tickets are routed to FAQs, while your agents focus on priority issues. Difficult tickets are escalated quickly to management for critical decisions. Agents are also notified for pending and unresolved tickets. Likewise, agents can endorse tickets after their work shifts to another agent so the ticket is not left hanging. For example, in HubSpot Service Hub you can create team-wide aliases so agents in shift succession can keep the ticket rolling until it’s resolved. The software also allows agents to use canned responses to cut response time in half.
  2. Avoid duplicate or contradicting responses. Using a centralized inbox, agents see clearly who is handling what ticket. Alerts are triggered in case of agent collision, thus, steering clear of infuriating customers.
  3. Give accurate answers to specific issues. Unique or technical issues can be routed to a person in the company with the right skills or experience, ensuring an accurate reply to the delight of customers.
  4. Keep agents on their toes. Daily and weekly agent performance reviews can be generated with a few clicks, keeping team leaders in the loop of day-to-day operations and alerting them of potential work-related problems.
  5. Measure CX metrics. Generate reports that measure key metrics such as ticket volume, response time, knowledge base usage and customer feedback.

Key features to look for in help desk software

  • Ticket automation
  • Unified or team inbox
  • Email to ticket conversion
  • Agent collision
  • Knowledge Base
  • Customer satisfaction rating

2. Live Chat

In the past years, the demand for live chat has increased by 8.29%. This is because aside from social media and email, customers also find live chat as one of the most convenient ways to connect with companies. 

While live chat is still primarily seen as a support tool, you can, in fact, use it for sales and marketing. You can read our techniques on how live chat can boost sales or the creative ways of using live chat for marketing. This makes live chat a true CX tool with functions that cross over to different departments.

You may prefer getting a standalone tool, and you have plenty of live chat choices. A preferred option though is to have the live chat built into your CRM or marketing software or natively integrated to these systems. For example, HubSpot Live Chat is part of the vendor’s sales software and service hub. The main advantage here is that chat conversations become a natural part of the sales or support process. Sales and support agents can quickly tune in to chat messages without leaving the system compared to having to log onto another app. Chat conversations are easier to retrieve also when you’re using a single tech stack.

Live chat enables you to connect to customers when they want it, greatly increasing conversion (image HubSpot Live Chat).

How it boosts customer experience

  1. Connect with customers at the right time. You can prompt a message to specific web visitors who may have questions about your product. Usually located at the lower right corner and without being invasive, the rule-based message helps to capture prospects or customers based on their actions or questions. Live chat helps you to engage customers when they want to, instead of annoying them with cold calls or emails.
  2. Address queries fast. An Econsultancy study found that 79% of customer prefer chat because “I got my questions answered immediately.” If your support team isn’t using live chat, they’re diluting customer experience.
  3. Boosts customer satisfaction. Live chat makes it faster and more convenient for customers to reach your business. With this at your disposal, you can facilitate real-time conversations with customers who want to inquire about your products and services. In turn, this will allow you to boost customer satisfaction and reduce shopping cart abandonment rate.

Key features to look for in live chat

  • Rule-based messaging
  • Integration with CRM, marketing and customer service systems
  • Smart search for chat messages
  • Chat conversation archive
  • Chatbot for initial interaction
  • White label

3. CRM

CRM is designed to help you know, manage and track your customer needs, a key element in providing positive customer experience. It aspires to nurture deals until the purchase and extract repeat business from these deals. If help desk software is the frontline of CX, CRM software is its engine, keeping customer data relevant, shared, insightful and helpful to keeping customer relationships. You have plenty of top CRM tools at your disposal, but if you want one that is free and robust–and highly acclaimed in the field–you can sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here, no strings attached.

One of the benefits of CRM is you can easily track deals across a visual sales pipeline (image HubSpot CRM).

How it boosts customer experience

  1. Get the total picture of your customer. The CRM database isn’t only a repository of customer data. It associates related records and may include past and current transactions, support interactions, social media posts, deals and emails on top of contact details. The database is also centralized so all teams in marketing, sales and support are privy to and can quickly access customer records when needed. The result, your people can provide personalized service.
  2. Personalized messages. Because you have a 360-view of the customer you can frame your messages along customer’s interests or needs. You can also create canned personalized messages by grouping like-minded customers.
  3. Focus on interested customers. Using lead scoring and automation, a CRM can spot high-value prospects that have the higher potential to convert to leads, and later, customers. Lead scoring is based on your preset qualifications for the ideal customer. With it, you can give your full attention to the needs of future customers, those who are keen on your product.
  4. Salesforce automation. The daily administrative tasks of your sales agents are automated, such as follow-up reminders, reporting, prospecting and invoicing, leaving them to commit their work hours to pressing prospective buyer’s concerns.
  5. Sales collaboration. Many CRM solutions feature a collaboration space that allows sales reps to teamwork on a lead. They can share insights, best practices, brainstorm for a pitch, all with the goal of meeting customer expectations.
  6. Workflows and approvals. The feature ensures all your reps follow protocols that aspire to a gold standard in customer engagement. These include consistency in brand messages, deal proposals and resolving customer issues.

Key features to look for in CRM

  • Centralized contact database
  • Visual sales pipeline
  • Deals and tasks association
  • Document management
  • Integration with sales, marketing, and help desk systems
  • Call center

4. Marketing software

Marketing software, also called marketing automation, is designed to optimize your marketing processes, such as email campaigns, lead management, and social marketing. On top of it, administrative tasks and workflows are automated to help you focus on high-value tasks, such as campaign evaluation and market analysis. One of the main objectives of marketing software is to deliver marketing-qualified leads or MQLs to sales leads with the potential to convert. If you’re looking for marketing software, a good recommendation is HubSpot Marketing, primarily because it is native to the HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Service Hub (more on this below). You can sign up for a HubSpot Marketing free trial here.

How it boosts customer experience

  1. Targeted campaigns synced with customer expectations. You can run different online campaigns with different messages targeting specific segments. The campaign management allows you to follow prospects with the right offer and messaging throughout the campaign, from initial contact to inquiries and purchase. Your interactions are never out of sync with customer expectations.
  2. Run program rewards. Rewards are always a delight to customers. Many marketing software lets you run loyalty rebates or referral deals using automated workflow and forms.
  3. Trigger responses aligned with the prospect’s interest. Using automation and workflow you can respond to customer actions fast and even in real time. For example, a prospect downloads your white paper; this prompts a preset workflow like an email sequence aligned to the white paper’s topic, in short, aligned with the prospect’s interest.
  4. Keep tab of social mentions. Many marketing software includes a social media management module that notifies you of brand mentions. You can respond fast to issues before they escalate, address questions and amplify testimonials. The module usually has a single dashboard where you get to track and post social media comments.

Key features to look for in marketing software

  • Campaign management
  • Email marketing
  • Lead scoring
  • Lead management
  • Forms
  • Landing pages
  • A/B testing
  • Workflow management
  • Social marketing
  • CRM, help desk and social media integration

Why getting a suite is better vs. separate tools

We have discussed so far the four essential tools to design a stellar customer experience: help desk, live chat, CRM and marketing software. The market is awash with the “best software” for each of these categories, but should you deal with separate apps? Customer experience is all about cohesion, nurturing teamplay among sales, marketing, and service teams. So, too, your tools must achieve close integration.

In this regard, a few vendors stand out when it comes to providing a cohesive, robust and scalable suite for CX. One of these is HubSpot, a brand renowned for inbound marketing and CRM. Particularly, its CRM, Sales and Marketing apps have consistently earned excellent user satisfaction rating and product reviews from our team of experts and elsewhere. You can even start building your CX suite for free when you sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here. It’s already integrated with the free versions of HubSpot Sales and HubSpot Marketing, from which you can scale to paid advanced features. Setup is easy and a matter of signing up. Once it’s done you will appreciate better these reasons why a suite is the way to go:

  1. Native integration means less technical glitches and compatibility issues.
  2. A shared system makes for an easier setup and data sharing.
  3. A centralized customer database gives all teams a 360-degree view of the customer.
  4. Collaboration is smoother compared to using a variety of apps where users waste time logging in and off and messages might be missed or lost.
  5. Pricing might be bundled for discounts.
  6. Updates cover all modules under a single system.
  7. Technical support is consistent and predictable.

Conclusion

Customer experience or CX will not go anywhere soon. It is, in fact, the new customer service to put it bluntly. If you want to stay competitive, you’ve got to have the mindset for CX and the tools to carry it out. In this respect, getting a suite has clear advantages over using disparate apps.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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