Customer Knowledge: What Is It and How Does It Impact Customer Service?

Today’s contact center agents are equipped with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that gives them access to customer information. Agents are able to centralize all interactions between a company and its customers as data is collected, stored, and updated within the communal CRM database. However, simply having access to customer data is not enough. Companies must understand how such data should be used to offer their customers great experiences. This is where customer knowledge comes in.

What is customer knowledge?

Customer knowledge refers to understanding your customers’ behaviors, motivations, needs, and concerns and how they impact their interactions with your brand. Customer knowledge is gained from data and requires understanding how this data should be used. When all customer data available is collected and analyzed closely, this customer knowledge can help a company better comprehend its customers’ needs and wants and tailor every experience to meet customer expectations.

At Vocalcom, we believe that customer knowledge is more than this. We think that it has more to do with the emotional connection an agent has with customers, whether it be through marketing communications or customer service interactions. To us, customer knowledge involves how we know our customers and how we put this knowledge to use. This means questioning all the methods used to obtain customer knowledge, refining these methods as needed, and eventually determining how the data collected is ultimately used to improve customer experiences. Customer knowledge also means knowing how to anticipate customer needs by better understanding customer emotions. For example, if customers show stress during a service interaction, it is crucial to train agents to show empathy when they communicate. In the same manner, agents can be trained to use the proper tone of voice and terminology depending on the nature of the interaction (service vs. marketing, a happy customer vs. a frustrated one) as well as the channel used (formal for email vs. more conversational for voice or messaging). Customer knowledge therefore means understanding and anticipating virtually every emotion and action a customer may embrace, while also knowing their preferences such as how they should be addressed, on which channel, and how often.

How can you gain customer knowledge?

Customer knowledge may be gained in many ways. Data collected may include customer contact information, purchase history, a record of all customer service interactions (including call transcripts and all written communications), and customer feedback collected from surveys. Contact center KPIs such as Net Promoter Score and CSAT also provide important information about customer satisfaction. You may also analyze your customers’ purchasing habits, such as reviewing their browsing history on your website and taking note of situations when they abandon purchase. Social media platforms offer a wealth of information, and physical points of sale can offer further insights about in-store customer habits. Lastly, building a trusting customer-brand relationship is key to understanding what your customers expect from your brand.

What are the uses and challenges of customer knowledge when applied to customer service?

So just why is customer knowledge so important? For one, it allows companies to develop an essential customer-centric strategy that makes customers feel valued. According to Gartner, 64% of customers choose brands based on the quality of their customer service. Customer knowledge is also critical to emotional marketing. This involves communicating with customers in a way that targets their emotions, persuades them, and ultimately wins their loyalty. Indeed, customer knowledge is key to earning long-term loyalty, as customers who feel they have great service on their preferred channel with the perfect emotional tone have no desire to leave a brand. A 2020 Zendesk study revealed that 87% of customers who have had a positive customer experience talk about it with others. However, if customers have a poor experience, 95% will share their frustrations. Furthermore, 75% of satisfied customers are happy to purchase again from the same brand (Avanci).

To offer great customer service, personalization is key. Interacting with customers on their preferred channels, making targeted product and service offers, giving special attention to high-risk and VIP customers—there are so many ways to achieve this. In addition, paying close attention to what your customers need enables your company to offer more efficient service as well, cutting costs while earning loyalty and standing out from other brands. And since personalization requires understanding customers, customer knowledge is essential. For example, classifying customers by specific product or service needs, demographics, or personalities enables your brand to adapt marketing and communication strategies as needed.

How can customer knowledge be used to offer great customer experiences?

Customer knowledge may be used to offer optimal customer experiences through proper use of your CRM solution. Being able to access clear and comprehensive customer files will allow your agents to interact with customers quickly, efficiently, and seamlessly. Most importantly, your CRM should reveal the most critical customer issues that need to be addressed—for example, an ongoing problem with a product or service that requires customers to contact you repeatedly. With this information, your company can decide how agents should handle these matters, which ones take priority, which agent should handle each type of case, and so on. Using a CRM efficiently allows agents to have the best interactions possible with customers while connecting emotionally with them as well.

Customer knowledge is also a major tool for knowing when and where to contact customers. Take for example OptimalQ, a Vocalcom partner. Connected to the Vocalcom dialer, OptimalQ uses an AI-powered motor based on data collection to devise a dialing strategy that allows a company to prioritize the order of outbound calls placed. This call data base is analyzed and updated every two to three seconds in order to offer the best recommendations according to the availability of the targeted prospects. Using a Best Time to Call solution can help you contact more receptive customers at the most optimal times thanks to customer knowledge. But don’t forget to use the right channel as well. 83% of customers consider email to be their preferred communication channel (Avanci).

In addition, customer knowledge is essential to capitalizing on cross-selling and upselling opportunities. When you know what products or services interest a customer based on their purchase history, you can make relevant offers that suit their needs. Customer knowledge can also allow agents to engage in a proactive manner with customers. They may reach out with assistance before the customer makes a request, using the tone and channel the customer prefers.

Lastly, customer knowledge can help hold onto your customers by reducing churn. For example, by identifying clients at risk—segmented by profile, offer, or geographic area—SFR  uses dynamic scripts to design the most attractive retention offer for the customer while preserving the company’s margins as much as possible. Thanks to their data and knowledge, they can reinforce the efficiency of each agent by offering advice and suggestions in real-time.

Customer knowledge lies at the heart of great customer service. This is why customer data and your CRM are the cornerstone of your customer engagement strategy. Vocalcom launched its Universal CRM Connectors to help brands easily enable CRM with their contact center. Vocalcom offers a range of CRM connectors to drive customer engagement strategy with customer data and boost agent productivity with real-time customer history and context. To deliver the very best experiences for your customers, you must take the time to know them and understand what they really want.

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