The Road To Successful Customer Contact Heaven Is Paved By OmniChannel Intentions.
Leading companies are making text central to their contact centre strategies– and for a whole raft of good reasons, points out Mark Oppermann of customer outreach tech leader VoiceSage
Every time you receive a message on your smartphone that your prescription is ready for collection, an eagerly-anticipated delivery is on its way or that your crucial business flight via Schipol has been delayed, what’s happening?
You, the customer, are getting real benefit from proactive communication strategies. And if such texts sound like science fiction – that means your service provider hasn’t got its act together yet – and isn’t using one of the most powerful and ubiquitous communications media available to modern business: the SMS message.
But don’t focus on the medium – focus on the message. By which we mean, what such examples are all about is use of the right channel, judicious use of customer data and a willingness to be flexible and open to new ways of doing business.
Another catch-all for which is of course, being omnichannel, which really means being able to keep the conversation you have with the customer flowing, switching seamlessly from one channel to another.
Let’s look at the best ways of getting to omnichannel – the best ways to get you to delighting your customers with timely, helpful communications.
Be smart on timing
One of the oversights companies can be guilty of is running a hugely expensive contact centre that doesn’t make phone calls early enough in the day. That is a missed opportunity.
Some customers will only talk on the phone before 9am;if calling is left until 11,30% to 40% of the most effective window of the day is needlessly forsaken. A simple thing, but starting early has a surprisingly positive impact on contact success. No matter what sector you are in this holds true.
One size does not fit all
Too often, the contact centre relies on one contact channel, be that calling or e-mailing etc. – which is just too inflexible.
How you engage – the method used – matters just as much as timing. Time and time again, companies are not applying enough thought to what will work for different customer demographics.
The interesting thing is that, for people in arrears and younger people in general, voice calls simply don’t work. But switching to SMS and SMS Conversations in particular, response rates can be phenomenally high – over 50% of the customers that were not contactable through traditional methods will engage via the SMS channel.
Making contact through a channel that customers are not comfortable with means they will block – but if the initial outreach is via a channel they prefer, there is an opportunity to guide the conversation gently into the channel the business wants to converse with them in, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Data strategies are vital to successful customer contact.
There has to be a coherent way for managers to understand, analyse, slice and dice and deep dive into data to give all the insights needed. So, build out a proper roadmap for getting the data to the right people at the right times. And have the data ready and loaded for an 8am start, make databases available that can support the business on the coal face, and offer coherent ways for the team to dive into data to give all the insights they need to help the customer.
Be open to new things
No one likes failure, but an inflexible attitude to experiment and occasional risking of failure, is not going to help in today’s complex, relentless business environment. So be brave: try new things. Choose what to experiment on judiciously, and keep part of your data back as a ‘control’ so you always have a reference point to compare. But do experiment – be open to new ideas. It really will help.
Focus is useful too. We’ve witnessed teams try ten things at once and see a 3% up-take. Fantastic – until the realisation hits that no one knows which of those ten great new ideas made the needle move, nor what would have happened if only one had been tried; maybe it would have been 6%? One thing at a time is the best plan.
And also, remember channels are beginning to get more and more complex as social habits change and technology advances. At the same time, a consistent tone of voice needs to be established for all outreach, no matter how it is delivered, otherwise you’ll have a tough time defining the quality of interaction and maintaining overall brand standards.
To sum up, a contact strategy should be about refusing to believe one size fits all; creating an effective customer contact strategy is a question of balance and using communications technology to help you and your customers achieve omnichannel greatness.
Mark Oppermann is Development Director at VoiceSage , a business services company working with a range of firms on customer outreach.
For additional information on VoiceSage visit their Website