How to differentiate your customer service in a crowded market

Here’s how you can transform your contact centre to add intangible value to your product or service and stay ahead of the game.

More than half of what exists in the market today is a copy of something else. When one company launches something new or finds a niche that’s profitable, rivals are quick to exploit the idea to its fullest or add a twist to attract the same customers.

From products and services to business models and operational processes, it’s hard for a company to stand out when there are so many ‘me toos’ out there. The only way most organisations can achieve a competitive edge is through the ability to give the customer a brand experience they can’t easily get somewhere else.

According to an article, How to differentiate on customer experience, by Merchants, South Africa’s largest business process management service and the collaborators on this article, this makes the contact centre the differentiator, because it is in charge of ensuring that the customer has a superior experience.

Unless your business services a small, specialised segment of the market, your entire strategy needs to be based on differentiation. Here’s how you can transform your contact centre to add intangible value to your product or service and stay ahead of the game.

Exceed their expectations

Do what your customers expect really well and then create a ‘wow moment’ that leaves a lasting impression on your customers. For example, customers expect their problem to be solved but, if the agent can find ways to speed up the process, the customer feels as though they’ve received superior service. Even after a resolution there will be opportunities to go over and above when it comes to customer service. Call the customer back and ask them to rate the service. Include some surprises and delights for your customers on special days, such as birthday wishes or coupons for their next purchase.

Make it personal

Many customers are used to just being another face in the crowd when they reach out to your contact centre. If your support team pays attention to customer preferences, they’ll be able to deliver a more personalised experience that makes customers feel valued. They can leverage data from email lists, customer purchases, and social media to equip themselves with the right info to better handle queries, anticipate issues and make customised recommendations.

Be innovative

Contact centre technology is constantly evolving and a business that takes advantage of new tools, software and processes can easily satisfy and retain its customer base and improve the efficiency of its agents. The telephone-based contact centre has been reinvented to include a wide range of online support solutions, with cloud communications, artificial intelligence and self-service solutions hailed as the next big thing in the contact centre environment.

“In the eyes of the modern customer, eight to nine operational hours won’t be enough”

But one thing to not forget is that, regardless of the channel of execution, the experience should be consistent for the customer. If they start an enquiry via email, follow up on social media and then decide to call in, the agent should be able to maintain the thread of conversation.

With a technology strategy, your business doesn’t just need innovative tools that manage the various support channels, but also tech that provides workforce management, productivity and business intelligence.

24/7 customer support

In the eyes of the modern customer, eight to nine operational hours won’t be enough. This is especially true for e-commerce websites whose customers can shop at any time of the day and might require assistance while doing so. Even if you can’t keep the lines open 24/7, having live chat, quick automated email responses, and a self-service helpdesk will show customers that you prioritise their needs and are available to help them when an emergency arises.

Differentiation is what helps customers notice you, gets people talking about your business, and gives you a loyal customer following. Whether you’re getting ready to launch your contact centre or you’re thinking about revamping your customer care department, you need to think about how you’re going to set it apart. If your customer service doesn’t stand out in some significant way, you might find that customers are knocking on your competition’s door instead.

Brenden Grant

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