Everyone knows that customer brand expectations are exceedingly high right now. The empowered buyer is not only educated about the products and services she wants at a given time, she also knows how long that product will last, what it should cost, who sells it at that particular price point, and common complaints about customer service or product performance.

If the product/brand experience fails to deliver, there are plenty of comparable options available for future purchases. Savvy companies are aware that customer satisfaction relates directly to the quality and effectiveness of customer experience. Nevertheless, a significant gap remains between sky-high customer expectations on the one hand, and the reality of customer dissatisfaction with the purchase and support experience they receive.

To close this gap, companies need to solve their customer’s problems the first time. To do this, help and support must be delivered consistently and effectively across every channel—and on demand.

A successful customer service platform (whether self-service or agent-driven) not only answers customer queries accurately and efficiently, it also points them toward additional knowledge and resources and arms them with information about future products and services, upgrades, and add-ons.

Relevant and meaningful content that is easily found

All the excellent help and support content in the world means nothing if it’s fragmented and siloed in various support forums, websites and hard drives across departments throughout the company. Lacking an integrated approach to content delivery, customers are left with partial answers and can easily be frustrated that their problem cannot be easily solved.

The onus on the company is to deliver current and accurate information across web and mobile channels (discussion forums, self-service channels, agent-driven chat, email, SMS, or phone-based support).

Personalized contextual support

Because any product and service can be researched and validated by potential customers so handily, post-purchase these customers will use similar skills and expect a more fulfilling user experience. In other words, this isn’t your grandfather’s shoe store.

Customers expect to receive service that is personalized to their stated and unstated (but inferred) preferences. They want to access those services in contextual situations. They’re looking to validate their purchase decision over and over. Additional content-ranking, optimized for SEO that surfaces the most relevant information based on customer queries, provides support that is customer-friendly, not product-centric.

Customer insights through reporting and analytics

By tracking and reporting customer behaviors and search trends, the support module will gain intelligence and insight, highlight patterns that address future customer needs. For example, if customers consistently report trouble implementing a software update, the intelligent customer service platform will be able to address this systematically.

Ultimately, solving a customer’s problems the first time builds yet another positive brand interaction, and supports ongoing customer discovery and research into additional product purchases, add-ons or upgrades. The well-supported customer has a greater lifetime value as a result. Positive customer interactions with robust service and support build a stronger brand, with greater customer loyalty and ultimately more revenue across channels.

Blog originally published on the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce.