Removing Consumer Frustration from the Contact Centre Experience – Jeremy Payne, International VP Marketing, Enghouse Interactive
A growing number of businesses see customer service as a key differentiator. More and more are focused on making it easier for customers to get what they want, but also, building on that, on seeking out ways to make their service stand out from the crowd. That is clearly the direction of travel. Deloitte was already reporting in its ‘2013 Global Contact Centre Survey’ that 62% of organisations surveyed viewed customer experience delivered by the contact centres as a competitive differentiator. Loyal customers are key – and if you want your customers to stay loyal, you must invest in the experience.
To be effective in that investment, businesses must first get the basics right. That means implementing a robust, flexible customer interaction platform to seamlessly manage engagement, build a service culture that draws on skills across the business and ensure customers get the answers they need quickly and efficiently. This is key because ultimately customers are looking for an effortless customer experience. They want their problem solved as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort on their part – and many want responses delivered outside normal business hours.
To provide this kind of service for customers, businesses must bring their isolated silos of functionality together properly at an operational level to drive connectivity and collaboration. Too often, we see customers looking to solve a problem on the company website; abandoning that; opening a chat window that also fails; and then phoning the business up directly.
These issues highlight the need for organisations to align, people, processes and systems in a way that delivers effortless customer experience. Currently, problems are often caused by lack of planning across the customer journey. Businesses may have offered their customers a range of channels through which to interact – but they fail to map out an optimised journey. As a result, customers often interact with them through channels that are poorly matched to what they want to achieve, leading to longer journey times and higher levels of friction.
There are cultural issues to navigate here also. Before businesses can deliver optimum levels of customer service, they need to consider how they fold people that don’t consider themselves to work in that function into the customer-facing operation in an intelligent way.
In part, that’s about spreading the message about the importance of good customer service across the company and building a sense of communal responsibility in delivering it. It’s also about being able to access people with the right skillset when they need to. With the most straightforward, routine enquiries increasingly solved by self-service and AI-bot-based service, they need to draw on skills and expertise held more widely by staff across the organisation to answer more complex or specialist enquiries.
That requires an agile connected infrastructure, capable of supporting interaction with staff in the middle and back office; and a flexible business culture able to empower staff to make decisions that meet customer needs. The former will require bringing together unified communications (UC) technology, such as Microsoft Skype for Business or Cisco, in collaboration with the latest communications centre solutions. The latter will necessitate a more extensive process of business realignment.
Get all that right and the business will have gone a long way towards removing sources of frustration for their customers from their contact centre experience. They can build on that by listening more to those customers and empowering their agents to further enhance the engagement process.
Moving up a Level
Businesses can use the latest coaching and compliance bots to actively, listen to conversations between businesses and their customers. The knowledge gained can be used to ensure organisations are in line with regulations but also to build more of a picture of what makes customers happy. This insight can be relayed into agent training programmes in order to disseminate the approach more widely across customer service teams.
Agents are then better placed to help build a memorable customer experience by ensuring they tailor the tone and the content of their engagement or interaction to the nature of the enquiry and the customer making it. By listening closely to customers, organisations can learn what words and phrases resonate with them and ensure agents use these to build rapport.
But they should not be too prescriptive. They need to ensure that they empower salespeople and give them the opportunity to deliver outstanding customer service that allows their organisation to really stand out from the crowd. Businesses that give their sales teams the latitude to make decisions that are right for their customers rather than sticking rigidly to the rules will create customer lifetime value and deliver memorable personalised customer experiences into the bargain.
They have gone from delivering the carefully planned and coordinated customer service that minimises frustration and raises engagement levels right through to the enhanced interaction that drives up customer loyalty and helps build long-term and even lifetime relationships.
Jeremy Payne is International VP Marketing at Enghouse Interactive
Enghouse Interactive delivers technology and expertise to maximise 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.