What is Bespoke Customer Service?
First off we should clear up that the word “bespoke” originally meant anything custom tailored in relation to high end suits, designer clothing and the like. Now the word bespoke is used to describe anything ‘custom tailored’, ‘made to order’ and other ‘creme de la creme’ offerings.
In this article we are using Bespoke in the sense of a “Custom tailored shopping experience” and even more exact, a “customer tailored ‘customer service’ experience”.
Bespoke customer service can refer to anything customized or personalized to the needs and desires of the end user, even as seemingly broad a term as “customer experience”.
When we talk about bespoke customer service through CX automation, we’re talking about creating experiences that are uniquely tailored to the expectations of a given customer and that leverage the specific benefits of each engagement channel to deliver those interactions.
Are we going too far with this definition? Is this even possible to achieve?
If you think such a proposition sounds like it would require a legion of very expensive, almost omniscient, flesh-and-blood concierges to assist your shoppers through the buying process, you’re wrong.
With purpose-built and e-Commerce-trained conversational AI deployed across all of the channels on which you interact with your customers, retailers can create affordable, bespoke customer service experiences with ease.
Bespoke Customer Service Doesn’t Involve Reinventing the Wheel
While every customer would like to believe their customer service inquiries are truly unique, retailers know otherwise.
The bulk of customer engagements with your brand revolve around standard queries like “Where is my order?” “How do I initiate a return?”, which means offering bespoke customer service doesn’t require reinventing the wheel for each customer interaction.
Customer experience automation allows you to leverage the data you have about customers to personalize and contextualize their experience with you across channels and provide bespoke customer service at scale.
This means that your conversational AI digital workforce is able to draw on your integrated customer view to know what a particular shopper has bought in the past and what shoppers of a similar profile have bought.
It can cross-sell, upsell and suggest complementary products or repurchases of past orders based on the customer’s own history.
Bespoke customer service delivered via CX automation makes your shopper feel known and valued by your brand in even the smallest moments, which in turns fosters brand loyalty, longer retention and increased customer lifetime value.
The caveat is that bespoke customer service demands purpose-built natural language conversational AI that relies on algorithms and real-world data for training, and offers specialized e-Commerce workflows, robust scalability, natural language understanding and is equipped to resolve inquiries involving other systems.
A live chatbot, or an Ai chatbot with pre-programmed and scripted answers to basic customer questions will not deliver the kinds of bespoke customer service we are speaking about in this article. In fact these can easily drive a customer away to your competitor.
A bespoke customer service solution needs consultative selling capabilities that allow natural language and intuitive conversational AI to tackle order status questions and offer tracking updates, notifications, reorders and guided returns and exchanges across the channels customers prefer.
Get this right and retail purpose built conversational AI can handle over 85%+ of customer requests, all on the customer’s channel of choice, making the customer feel like the service they’re receiving is personalized to their needs. In fact with the right solutions your customers may not even know they are not interacting with a human!
Why Conversational AI is More Efficient Than Human Agents
For most retailers, automating customer support with conversational AI offers the ability to provide streamlined bespoke customer service at a scale human agents simply never could.
Given that we know the bulk of customers’ questions are standard queries, retailers can dramatically reduce customer service and support costs while increasing customer satisfaction (CSAT Scores) by leveraging automation to handle these routine inquiries and questions instead of having human agents hop from system to system trying to provide real time customer support. This actually frees up your live agents to handle the requests that only a human touch can resolve. This lowers customer support wait times and takes stress off of your live chat and customer support teams.
For example, there are only so many calls, chats, or emails a single customer support or live chat agent can handle in a given shift, no matter how efficient they are or how efficient a retailer’s first contact resolution process is.
There is a ceiling to how much a retailer can grow its human customer support workforce before the associated overhead costs become untenable.
Human resources just cant scale that quickly or widely enough to match the growing customer expectations around personalized always on bespoke experiences.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic and now as we move into the new normal customer support staff, are harder to find and this is a trend that is not going away.
Streamlining is vital to this bespoke offering which automation can provide but the human workforce might struggle with giving the customer exactly what they are looking for in that moment 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Streamlining means that your conversational AI customer support does the bulk of the heavy lifting.
The less information the customer needs to input e.g. like order number, product descriptions etc., in order to get the help they need or a question answered in the pre-purchase phase the better!
Think of offering your customers returns within the chat vs. directing them to another page on your website to fill out a form or process a return label that then gets sent to their email.
Or routed through to another human customer support specialist further increasing the wait times, frustration and ultimately a poor customer experience all around, and an extra cost to your customer support teams.
Think of Bespoke customer service in terms of offering customers the option to opt-in to SMS from your brand and receiving text message updates when their order ships or has been delivered instead of having to click a tracking number in an email and taken to the shippers website.
“Is this level of bespoke customer service even possible?” Absolutely!
If your retail brand is not leveraging this highly advanced conversational AI based bespoke customer service you are missing out on huge savings in customer support costs, an increase in customer loyalty, and potentially missing out on product sales due to pre-purchase questions not being answered in a timely manner.
Your competitors are using this technology and you need to be too.
Offering Bespoke Customer Service Across the Customer Journey
In order to understand bespoke customer service in relation to the customer journey let us give you an example of what the customer experience used to look like;
The days of a linear customer journey – a straight line from research to engagement to purchase where everything hinges on conversion and where the brand guides the customer along a particular path are long gone, and they aren’t coming back.
In today’s digital retail landscape the customer journey looks more like creating a landscape of increasing touch points across which your customers will roam, choosing when and where they will interact with your brand.
As customers’ buying intent has become less focused like “I am going to the mall to buy a black sweater” and more diffuse and spontaneous like “Oh that weighted blanket I saw on instagram looks cool, I should check out the company’s website”, the stages of the buying journey have blurred together.
Pre-purchase consultation is now whenever and wherever a potential customer is in a position to interact with your brand and post purchase is actually table setting for the next purchase. This means your brands thinking about the customer experience throughout the purchasing journey has to become equally expansive and all encompassing.
Here are some examples of offering bespoke customer service through a robust conversational AI powered live chat;
Purchase Exploration and Consideration Via Live Chat
Retailers leveraging natural language conversational AI live chat as a means of providing real time bespoke customer service just makes financial sense.
Research from analyst firm Forrester shows that visitors to your e-Commerce website who use live chat are almost three times more likely to convert than ones who don’t.
With these types of interactions retailers are free to think beyond one-off purchases and engage their customers at every touch point. Customers who are ‘engaged’ with your brand spend more, a lot more, than those customers who don’t.
A study by Hubspot also shows that 90% of customers now expect and immediate response when they contact your brand with customer service issues.
Implementing the latest conversational AI powered live chat solutions can help you scale to meet rising customer expectations and deliver outstanding customer experience by ensuring a consistent customer journey across touch points and providing intelligent, contextual interactions based on an individuals shopping history, while also giving your customers the immediate response they require from your customer service teams.
Reordering and Order Info Lookup Via Voice Assistants
How much more personalized and bespoke can you get than participating in two way conversation with your favorite brand from the comfort of your couch?
Previously this technology just did not exist and AI chatbots provided a clunky and awkward experience that was obviously not a two way conversation but more a script that resembled more of a choose your own adventure book then a bespoke customer experience.
While voice assistants have become almost ubiquitous in our homes being there are hundreds of millions of both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa users, their e-Commerce potential is still in its infancy when compared to their use as electronic butlers and table top receptionists.
Voice assistants, however, have a crucial role to play as part of a bespoke customer service offering as they are perhaps the most intimate and friction-less way in which customers interact with your brand, minus the typical brand cues of a store environment or website.
With this knowledge in mind voice assistants work best as supporting players in your existing relationship with your customers, allowing you to leverage voice skills to help shoppers to handle the tasks such as looking up order information, recording products and accessing store information. This is truly the ideal in offering a bespoke customer service experience for your retail brand minus the traditional face to face at a retail location.
Offer Customers Opted-in Engagement Via SMS
Globally, over 20 billion text messages are sent each day and the average American alone sends and receives almost 100 million of them. You would think this volume of back and forth typing would quell a customers interest in engaging with brands via SMS, but you would be wrong.
75% of customers are open to receiving brand communications via text and the open rate for text messages can be as high as 98% vs. an average of 20% for email.
With half of the customers already saying they want customer service to be chat.text.messaging base and 44% preferring to deal directly with an intelligent agent assistant, SMS is a vital channel in your bespoke customer service arsenal.
Offering your customers the ability to opt-in to SMS form your brand gives the the ability to ask questions about their orders, get real time shipping updates and be prompted to review their recent purchases in a convenient medium they already use dozens of times a day.
It also gives you a highly effective channel on which to continue engaging with your buyers via personalized, contextual offerings in the palm of their hands, building a foundation for a profitable long term relationship.
Are AI Chatbots the Same as Bespoke Live Chat?
Ai chatbots are not the ideal when it comes to offering bespoke customer service.
Early in the days of live chat deployment retailers rushed out to get any type of communication on the front end of their e-Commerce websites to off-set the wait times of customer support staff.
This is far from ideal when we speak of offering a ‘bespoke customer experience’.
We’ve all had experiences with a poorly programmed chatbot that ends up taking us to places we don’t want to go or offering us options that do not answer our questions.This can hurt your brand more than not having a live chat solution in place at all.
While many retailers initially opted to deploy AI chatbots on third party websites like Facebook messenger, research from Forrester shows that an increasing number of retailers are expanding their in-house live chat options.
Deploying the right live chat solution on your brand’s own website allows you not only to respond to post purchase and order support inquiries from current customers, but to engage digital window shoppers through consultative selling, providing them with the information, product exposure and customer support they need to make a purchase decision through automated buying assistance.
Building out and integrating a conversational AI live chat on your company website or e-Commerce store helps to give you greater quality control over your customer interactions and mitigate or completely avoid the risks of ever-changing chatbot developments and usage parameters set by third party live chat platforms.
Long Term Advantages of Bespoke Customer Service
The research is clear, retail brands that provide high quality customer experiences across channels and touch-points significantly out-perform those that don’t when it comes to “customer retention” which is the driving factor behind increased customer lifetime value (CLV) and lowering customer acquisition costs.
Your customers want to feel like one ‘in’ a million, not one ‘of’ a million.
Using customer experience-CX Automation to provide contextual, personalized, bespoke engagement with your brand helps you to meet this expectation at scale and helps your customers to feel uniquely valued.
When customers feel connected to your brand, they spend more, they shop more often and they stay loyal longer!
The Covid-19 pandemic has made standing out from competitors and offering stellar customer experiences through e-Commerce a vital component of staying in business and thriving post pandemic for retailers.
To stay competitive and retain and engage loyal customers, investing in bespoke customer service drives delightful, memorable shopping experiences and bottom line revenue generation. You can’t lose (well unless you invest in a bespoke customer service solution that does not deliver for your brand).
See how leading brands like Lamps Plus, Levi’s, Carter’s OshKosh, PacSun and others are using a bespoke customer service approach automated by Linc conversational AI powered digital workforce as part of their customer experience strategies. Customer Success Stories