Today’s customer expects the world. In exchange for their business, customers expect quick answers, speedy resolutions, and they never—ever—want to repeat themselves. Fail to deliver on that expectation and it could be curtains. Subpar customer service experiences drive customers away faster than you can say “Hello, how may I help you today.”

You’re Gonna Lose ‘Em!

Recent research from Medallia underscores this growing demand for proactive and personalized customer service. A survey of over 8,000 consumers from four different countries reveals that nearly half of U.S. mobile network customers would likely switch brands after a single bad experience.

The data also reveals that customers are particularly sensitive to interactions with contact center agents. When things go wrong, or customers have questions about their product, “thirty percent […] expect call center agents to be instantly familiar with their contact history.”

Put differently, customers expect contact center agents to have up-to-date information about them, as well as content relevant to their product and issue, right at their fingertips—all before that person contacts support. And they expect this kind of consistency whether it is the first or fifth time they’ve reached out to support.

This is only true, of course, if the customer initiates with the company at all. The same Medallia report indicates that “almost half (47%) say they have avoided a brand because they heard or read about someone else’s bad experience with it.” And bad experiences beget more bad experiences, it seems. Because failing to deliver on the high expectations that today’s customer has for personalized, low-effort customer service experiences risks more than the business of a single customer.

Indeed, there is a high likelihood that a bad experience will turn that customer into a detractor. And detractors can cost a company more than a bit of lost business—they can feed a cycle of bad customer service experiences and plummeting customer satisfaction indicators. “When consumers believe they have put in more effort than a company to resolve an issue,” says the same Medallia report, “they are twice as likely to tell friends, family or colleagues […] and four times more likely to stop purchasing from the company.”

The stakes are high, indeed.

Help Contact Center Agents Help Your Customers

Positive customer support experiences, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. They can help companies create loyal customers and brand promoters. So how do we turn our contact center agents into the mind readers our customers expect to encounter whenever they initiate a support interaction?

It begins with delivering a consistent experience. It begins with ensuring that no matter how many times a customer calls, no matter which agent they are talking to, they get the same answer.

Easier said than done.

This is where a comprehensive knowledge management platform is crucial. It’s a way to not only keep a contextual history of how customers have interacted with support in the past, but embed knowledge base content directly into the agent experience.

This reminds me of my days as a technical writer. Too often would we hear support agents bemoan the time it took to switch windows, search the knowledge base, or ping a colleague to find that one KB article. And we tech writers would say, Gee whiz, what if we could drop the KB navigation and search experience right into the agent’s CRM?

What if we could equip contact center agents with all that a customer saw and searched for before initiating a support conversation?

We knew that by infusing the agent experience with timely, relevant knowledge, we could help our friends in support spend less time tracking down answers, or attempting solutions the customer has already been through. This level of agent enablement, we found, was the power of a rock solid knowledge management platform.

And it led to far better customer support experiences.

Knowledge Management Inside of Salesforce Service Cloud

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Additional categories: Customer Experience, Customer Support