There was a time, when people were excited by a light bulb. Fast forward a hundred years or so, and you would have a hard time impressing folks with even the most elaborate fireworks. The pace at which technology and customer expectations grow today is much greater than that. As a matter of fact, it’s so fast, that to satisfy your clients and move ahead of your competition, you have to act in real-time.
Back in the day, people needed to go out of their house every time they had some business to take care of. Phone made a lot of things easier, but the bulk of all tasks we had to do at places such as banks, or post offices, still required paying a visit. The Internet was supposed to change everything. But for a long time, all it seemed to offer was a basic self-service – perfect for completing simple tasks, such as checking your balance, but completely unsuitable for complex tasks, like getting an insurance. Self-service websites and applications were just like the light bulb that could only excite people for so long. Sooner or later, their appetite was bound to outgrow it.
They want more
According to the State of the Connected Customer report by Salesforce, 81 percent of customers expect to get the very same level of customer service regardless of what channel they use to interact with a company. At the same time, up to 75 percent of them actually believe that businesses should be able to offer a consistent experience wherever they choose to engage them – whether it is on a website, mobile phone or in person. Smart customers of today want to receive instant support and immediately take care of all of their business at any moment and at their convenience. In other words, they want every channel to be as comprehensive and personalized as an in-person meeting with a company’s representative. And as convenient as reaching out for a phone.
All of it poses many challenges for businesses of all sizes. But, perhaps, even more opportunities.
Easier said than done
There are two things that most of online marketers agree on. One is that the personalization of online communication is an effective way of increasing both customer satisfaction and conversion, as well as creating a cohesive customer journey. The other is… that the vast majority of them are not getting personalization right. As a matter of fact, only about 30 percent of organizations are satisfied with their efforts in this area.
To personalize their Internet communication, they use formats such as email campaigns, rule-based recommendations and home page modifications, personalized search, surveys, or machine learning solutions. And while they are increasingly interested in live chat and other tools that allow them to interact with clients in real-time, they hardly ever mention personalization as a reason for taking interest in such solutions. And isn’t real-time interaction with a living person the closest an online experience can get to an in-person meeting?
The ability to provide real-time online experiences gives companies an incredible potential for driving value. Through supporting in real-time, they can satisfy, sell and optimize without a limit.
Support and satisfy
The most obvious benefit of enriching online and mobile experiences with real-time and personalized help is increased customer satisfaction. Even a simple solution such a live chat is found extremely helpful by the vast majority of customers. What’s interesting, customers are not particularly annoyed by proactive communication tactics, when it is the company’s consultant that starts the conversation. On the contrary, they are willing and likely to share with you their pain points.
More advanced solutions, such as LiveBank’s very own Virtual Branch, take personalized online support to a new level, allowing customers to complete just about any activity they could perform during an in-person meeting in an area as sensitive as financial services.
Support and sell
If you can have a real-time conversation with your clients at the time they choose, providing them with helpful information, you are in a perfect time and place to tell them even more about your services. As you help them solve their problems, opportunities for cross-selling, up-selling or simply informing about new exciting deals are sure to occur. In the context of supporting your customers, they can be easily made to sound like yet another helpful bit of information rather than annoying advertising. Instead of a generic banner they usually find in self-care applications and websites, an actual person can provide them with a message tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
Support and optimize
And once your real-time interaction with a client is over, it is easy to evaluate the performance of your employee and the entire solution. A conversation, whether it is a call, a video chat, or a text chat, can be saved/recorded. Customer satisfaction surveys are sure to provide even more feedback. LiveBank’s Virtual Branch goes as far as providing continuous connection quality monitoring, which gives you the ability to control image quality and switch to audio or text chat mode should circumstances such as poor Internet connection on the user’s end call for it.
For an increasing number of companies from various industries, solutions that allow them to provide real-time help are also a way to transform the whole organization. As fewer and fewer clients need in-person meetings, more activities can be moved online, brick and mortar locations are closed and employees’ time is used more efficiently.
Iterate your way to amazing customer support
This entire data-driven process, which includes satisfying, selling and optimizing through real-time support, allows your company to gradually get better and more effective. With each iteration, providing value for your customers and driving value for your company at the same time becomes more and more natural.
 2017 Trends in Personalization by Researchscape International
 Bank’s keynote at European Digital Banking Conference, 19-20.09.2016, Londyn