Bringing Customer Service Into The Digital Age
Jeremy Payne, VP of Product Marketing, Enghouse Interactive
When organisations embark on the journey to digital, they need to bring their frontline workers and contact centre agents with them. That’s partly about ensuring that staff are comfortable and engaged with the new technology, and it is partly about drawing on the expertise and empathy of the wider workforce in designing how services work and how they can best support the customer journey.
There is no denying that the shift to digital has been challenging for customer service staff. Businesses are increasingly finding that as the march to automated self-service channels continues, they are having to rethink the roles that their human agents play in the contact centre or in frontline customer service.
Today, organisations need a diversity of capabilities in place and that typically means a wide range of different employees. The skillset that you need to deal with a tweet, or to monitor and respond to social media posts more generally, is very different from the skillset you need to deal with an inbound phone call. The skillset required to engage through a chat window may be quite unlike the skillset required to deal with an email.
Building a Diverse Customer Service Team
With more of the routine and straightforward queries managed in an automated way, we are also seeing a step-change in the complexity of enquiries that agents have to deal with. Businesses will need a blend of ‘personas’ from skilled negotiators to social media experts and technical gurus.
Even on one specific engagement, a wide array of agents each with different talents may need to be deployed. On difficult interactions, organisations may need to draw on the skills of people who can effectively troubleshoot, for example, and get jobs done, people skilled in negotiation, individuals with deep technical expertise and agents with the social media knowledge to crowdsource answers. In order to deliver this also, they will need to draw on employees existing skillsets and/or train up frontline workers who show an interest in, and an aptitude for, learning new skills.`
That combination of aptitude and enthusiasm needs to be encouraged and nurtured as organisations transition to more digital approaches.
Contact centre teams who had found their niche in the classic contact centre environment of the past should be given the opportunity to upgrade their skills or reskill altogether to deal with the challenges of today’s multichannel world. Others used to fulfilling a back-office role are being asked to become frontline workers, and directly engage with customers. Wherever they are in the organisation, they need to be able to track and monitor customer interactions.
Engagement and Empathy
All of these groups will have a key role to play in the new world of digitally-driven customer service. That’s why it is critically important that they are all engaged with and where possible directly involved as the business transitions to digital. The move to digital and the ongoing roll-out of a digital customer approach must be an enterprise-wide undertaking. Everybody within the organisation needs to be involved. Customer-facing staff are key here as these individuals are most likely to engage with customers and represent the brand to external parties – and they often act as ambassadors for the business’s services and solutions and prevailing culture. And yet they are frequently left out of the overall vision as the board and information workers take precedence.
That cannot be allowed to happen. If it is allowed to, it will not just be the business’s customer service delivery that suffers, important though that it is, the ability of the business to understand and empathise with their customers’ precise needs and requirements will suffer too. It is important that the business is not just capable of delivering customer services but also that it can draw on the expertise and empathy of the wider workforce in designing how their services work and how they can best support the customer journey.
They could, for example, ask their workers to use the website as if they were a customer and critique it from that perspective, or request that they empathise with a specific customer group. From the point of view of that group, is the language or the jargon used by the organisation in any way confusing or unclear? What are the top three kinds of interactions you would expect them to make with the organisation? The businesses could then ask their employees to undertake the customer journey themselves, effectively seeing it through their customers’ eyes.
It is all part of having a workforce that buys into digital transformation and engages with it; that sees the benefits it brings to customers and employees and actively wants to get the most out of it. Having that kind of workforce in place will enable forward-thinking organisations to differentiate themselves from their rivals in today’s age of digital transformation, while helping raise levels of engagement, loyalty and morale across their customer service teams.
Jeremy Payne is VP of Product Marketing at Enghouse Interactive
Enghouse Interactive delivers technology and expertise to maximize the value of every customer interaction. The company develops a comprehensive portfolio of customer interaction management solutions. Core technologies include contact centre, attendant console, predictive outbound dialler, knowledge management, IVR and call recording solutions that support any telephony environment, on premise or in the cloud. Enghouse Interactive has thousands of customers worldwide, supported by a global network of partners and more than 800 dedicated staff across the company’s international operations.