5 Tips to Create a Powerful Online Customer Service Experience

The concepts of AI technology and digital marketing don’t typically make the priority list when companies contemplate new ways to elevate their customer service experience. Let a computer automatically nurture leads?  

For those who don’t fully understand how artificial intelligence can help power websites and the best way to utilize new business technology tools like a marketing cloud, the concept of online customer service seems counterintuitive. Yet, it’s the very key to successful consumer engagement in an online world that offers too many choices and endless access to internet research, resulting in shortened attention spans and higher demands for instant information.

Marketing clouds powered by AI aren’t designed to steal jobs, but rather make your employees more efficient and effective at their jobs by using a data-based approach that can adjust in real time as new data flows in from your website, digital advertising campaigns and in-person transactions. With everything connected, adjusted automatically and tracked in great detail, the online leads generated from an AI-powered solution guarantee your customers and your team enjoy a tailored customer service experience that makes buying (and selling) easier.

Instead of using your online website as an e-commerce platform or as a digital brochure, technology makes your strongest asset available online: your people, physical inventory and services like in-house designers or taking a tour of a rental property. It’s that customer service element that sets your company apart from giant corporations competing online for a share of your local market.

“Your job is to create a memorable website experience that’s both convenient and helpful as online shoppers research and narrow down choices from the comfort of their homes, while also highlighting the value of your in-store resources,” says Scott Hill, PERQ Co-Founder and Executive Chairman.

Here are 5 tips on how to create an influential customer service experience online that’s sure to capture and convert more leads, while giving your brand a big boost at the same time. 

1. Give Consumers Information They Want Online

Don’t hold back on pricing and other details consumers seek when shopping online, thinking it will push them to visit in person. Our research shows they’ll likely bounce to a competitor’s website or click around Google and social media until they find what they want, because someone in your market — a competitor, manufacturer or industry group — surely offers the details or planning tools they’re searching for online. Help the customer help themselves.

“It gives transparency,” says Sandra Dellolio, internet manager at Atlantic Auto Mall in New York, of the leasing calculator and other interactive online tools available on the dealership’s website. “Especially in the car business, people go online because they absolutely want to have the knowledge before they go into a dealership. This is a way to show them what they want before they know what they want.”

2. Deliver a Connected Consumer Experience

Adding interactive tools on your website personalizes the shopping experience as it gathers lead data from each visitor who engages with them. You’re moving them closer to a decision by helping them along the consumer journey and narrowing down what they want to buy, while also delivering a customer service experience that mirrors the service your staff offers in person.

“The beauty of [the website experience] is that they’re designed to engage our guests in natural, small steps,” says Dave Weiss, Marketing Manager at Sherman’s furniture and appliance retail stores in central Illinois. “We can’t jump straight from awareness to asking for the sale. It’s much easier for the guest to make those micro-commitments, leading them further down the path to purchase without feeling like they’re being ‘sold to.’”

By connecting all of your online platforms through AI and cloud technology, the customer gets an online shopping experience that feels personal, like you know exactly what they’re looking for online.

3. Show Online Customers the Exact Product They Want

Embed helpful planning tools in your automated emails and digital advertising to drive traffic back to the website and keep consumers engaged throughout the lead nurturing process. AI and cloud technology tracks where each lead is at in the process, which touchpoints they’ve encountered along the way and what they’ve looked at online, then automatically serves the consumer with customized incentives, emails and website prompts every time they return.

With machine learning, a type of AI programming, cloud software can learn and adapt its content based on a company’s own lead data compared alongside millions of other aggregated data points gathered across markets and similar industries. It can predict the type of person most likely to buy from a particular company, show where those people are most likely to be reached, and deliver the best experience proven to convert that lead type. Gathering all of that data helps AI-driven software deliver the most relevant results for each individual website visitor, making their online shopping experience easy and intuitive — a sure win in the customer service department.

4. Capture Lead Data to Better Nurture Online Leads

AI technology gives companies the power to collect detailed online lead data far beyond what the standard static contact form offers the sales staff. It can then use that intel to automatically nurture consumers via personalized emails pertinent to their search and customized digital ads with calls to action.

Your sales or leasing staff get a detailed consumer journey that accounts for every device a lead used to look you up online and every visit, something most analytic programs can’t do. That allows salespeople to see the big picture and not just the last thing the consumer searched before coming in to visit.

“That personal touch is a nice way to develop instant rapport with a prospect,” says Cindy Scanlan, Director of Operations at Thalhimer, a property management company with apartment communities in Virginia and North Carolina.

Capitalize on that lead information to give the consumer a personal customer service experience that will make an impression, and save the shopper valuable time by starting the sales pitch right where they left off online.

5. Automate the Process to Focus on Live Interactions

Automating the lead capturing and nurturing process frees up your staff’s resources, so they can spend more quality time taking care of the customers who walk in the door ready to buy right now. It’s more efficient and effective than doing everything manually, and sure to be more consistent than any human.

Home Inspirations Thomasville in New Jersey automated its email nurturing campaign in late 2018, sending emails to website registrants that are personal, geared toward their interests, and scheduled and designed around the buying timeline the customer submits on the website.

“Our goal is to let the customer know we are there to assist them in any way, whether that be with design and we invite them into the store to work with our design team for a complimentary consultation or whatever else they require,” says Ed Massood, owner of Home Inspirations Thomasville.

With the right technological solutions, implementing an online customer service experience that converts online leads can be both affordable and easy. It also makes marketing decisions more effective, saving businesses additional time and resources.

More data and analysis mean more insights and better tracking of leads, ROI and results. That empowers your company to make smarter, data-driven decisions on what exactly your customers are looking for and how to best give them that shopping experience online.