Keeping customer service consistent for global brands
CX Best Practices
As brands become increasingly global, new business priorities are emerging, including delivering a consistent customer experience across different countries, languages, cultures and channels.
Consistency can make or break a brand. Research from Aberdeen Group shows that 88% of best-in-class businesses deliver consistent customer messages across channels. Additionally, a study by Conduent on how consumers in the U.S. and several European countries interact with tech companies found that 51% prefer using digital channels to interact with brands, yet many of them "fail to create a consistent experience across their omnichannel platform."
Why is consistency so critical?
Consumers have countless products and services to choose from, so when many products are similar in quality and price, the customer experience becomes a critical differentiating factor. And the customer experience isn't merely one interaction with your brand; it is the history of your relationship with that customer — meaning each interaction, no matter the channel, becomes critical to maintaining their patronage.
This is especially true for brands with a global customer base. Imagine a customer who travels internationally for work. They likely have a favorite hotel chain they consult first when booking accommodations. Now imagine one hotel location delivers a subpar experience. That inconsistent experience may be just a blip, but it can still disrupt a customer's perception of the entire brand — and might even cause them to shop for a new hotel chain the next time they travel.
The key to delivering exceptional customer service is to create a more consistent customer journey across all touchpoints. By following just a few best practices, you can ensure your overall experience is as satisfying as possible.
Know what your customer expects
Brand reputation is directly related to consistency for obvious reasons. But to make a lasting impression on consumers, organizations first have to understand what their customers expect.
Soliciting feedback through surveys, polls and social media monitoring is a good way to determine what you're already excelling at, be it personalized service or an especially friendly staff. From there, you can make sure to continue meeting these expectations and demands.
"It's important to follow what customers think and say about your brand," says Denyse Drummond-Dunn, founder and president of customer engagement consultancy C3Centricity. "Social media makes this much easier than in the past, but you also need information on awareness, trial, usage, loyalty, advocacy, image and equity."
Drummond-Dunn believes customer perspectives can be consolidated into three different attribute groups:
"All three areas are essential for a complete, in-depth appreciation of your brand's image and equity," she explains. "It's essential to include the best attributes for not only your brand, but for those of your major competitors too. If you don't, you will get great scores and be lulled into a false sense of security."
Develop a brand standards guide to build loyalty
Once you've identified how your brand is perceived by your customers, it's time to ensure the customer experience is replicated across channels and platforms. The best way to do this is by creating a brand standards guidebook that can be implemented by all departments.
This manual, which will outline your organization's core mission, values, customer strategies and best practices, can keep staff members and contact center agents around the world on the same page when it comes to interacting with customers.
According to Kelechi Okeke, founder of online magazine CXService360.com, the consistency that a brand standards manual creates can foster customer trust, which is "an essential ingredient for loyalty." Okeke says that manuals should contain "information on how a brand desires to be perceived or identified," including font, logo, color selections, product quality and service standards.
Another best practice he recommends is eliminating information silos, so it's easier for everyone within an organization to access customer and brand data. "This empowers employees in the various departments to provide consistency and continuity in every customer interaction," Okeke says.
Work with an experienced customer service partner
The final challenge facing global brands relates to interacting with customers. For instance, an American company that operates in China must ask itself how it can keep its reputation as a world-class brand while also navigating the unique nuances of the local market.
Part of this challenge comes down to language and local custom. Working with an outsourcing partner with ample experience in foreign locales can help protect your organization from making mistakes that can alter the way customers see you.
"Don't forget that customers buy from brands they trust," says Okeke. "This trust can only grow when the customers' needs and expectations have been consistently met."
With this three-pronged strategy for satisfying global customers, borders won't be a roadblock to your brand's consistency.