Transversal: Self-service technology – whether in store or online – is a value-add today’s connected customer has come to expect. With competition plentiful and differentiation difficult, one bad customer experience can be the difference between a loyal customer – that keeps spending with your brand – and a dissatisfied customer that takes their business elsewhere and never comes back.
With an article from Forbes last month suggesting self-service technology will have an even bigger impact on business success and growth in 2015, customer service professionals should be asking themselves how their business can be using self-service technology to increase efficiency – and more importantly reduce costs – as we kick off the New Year.
To help get you on the right path, in this article Chris Hall, Chief Marketing Office at Transversal will take a look at a recent self-service implementation with insurance management provider 1st Central, and offer his top tips on how a centralised self-service knowledgebase can make a difference to your business.
The changing needs of the customer
The case for 1st Central
Issue: With over 300,00 customers in the UK and a workforce of 500, 1st Central has the daily responsibility to manage the growing demand for 24/7 customer support. Despite offering staff extensive training on policies and procedures there continued to be inconsistency in support staff responses and knowledge that was being acquired daily across departments was not being captured or shared.
Solution: in December 2012 1st Central engaged Transversal to introduce a centralised knowledge solution that would allow customers to serve themselves online and reduce pressure on the 1st Central contact centre team.
Gartners published results on KM projects:
- Fast retrieval of the right customer information increases customer satisfaction by 12%
- 40% reduction in inbound emails due to easy access to information
- 25% head count shift away from low-value calls due to self service
- Improved KM delivery reduces agent time to answer by 40%
- 35% reduction in the time that it takes to train a new CSR
“It’s an evolutionary process, you don’t just launch the knowledgebase as a finished product, you need to constantly refine it – adding additional context over time.” Gary Lucas, Head of Customer Experience at 1st Central
Nowadays, customers expect brand support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and self-service technology is the enabler here – when done right! Improving self service is a win, not just for the customer who is able to find what they need more efficiently, but also for a business like 1st Central who is able to keep the customer on their website.
Studies conducted by The Customer Respect Group, a Boston-based research and consulting firm, have shown that online users leave websites after an average of three failed attempts to search for an item. The key when attempting to improve self-service is finding a balance between choice and quality of information; while customers are demanding more information than ever before they do not want to be presented with unnecessary or incorrect information that clogs up the self-service process. In fact when it comes to customer service, eliminating half the unnecessary content you serve up can increase online satisfaction by up to 20% – so remember to keep your content simple.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap and try to collect and share absolutely everything, but less is more when it comes to self-service. Internal departments should be working together from the offset to input the most relevant information and to constantly feed updates into the knowledgebase when new or fresh information becomes important to share.
Using data to take customer experience to the next level
“Without having the insight of who is asking what questions and how the questions are changing over time, we would not have understood the issues our customers were experiencing. It’s been a great tool for understanding our customers’ changing needs and requirements.” Gary Lucas, Head of Customer Experience at 1st Central
Once up and running, data analytics, such as top questions, most frequent searches and seasonal dynamics can be used to predict, pre-empt and continually improve your knowledgebase – keeping you one step ahead of the needs of your customers.
Have a think about your existing customer service portal – how often do you analyse your customer data? Has the data led to any tangible improvements for your customers or employees? Are you sharing data insights across departments to improve efficiencies? How often are you doing so?
Unfortunately in most cases the short answer to these questions is ‘no’; all too often customer service departments work in siloes, using multiple content management systems to deal with answering inbound customer queries. By using a single knowledgebase and linking this with data analytics from all departments, brands will benefit from a centralised system that shows what customers are doing, why they are doing it and how their experience could be improved – ultimately helping you to gain more loyal customers and convert more sales.
In it for the long haul – realising and communicating the long term benefits
“We needed to improve customer experience – the choice available to our customers – whilst also increasing efficiency and reducing costs.” Gary Lucas, Head of Customer Experience at 1st Central
While the upfront costs and associated time commitment of introducing a centralised knowledgebase may deter some, it’s important to weigh up the long term business benefits of encouraging self-service, beyond those of improving customer services:
1) Improving workforce efficiencies: customer service representatives on average spend more than half of their time understanding questions and searching for the correct information to respond to their customer’s inquiries. A centralized KM solution can eliminate wasteful research or training time, increase first contact closures, and improve overall average handle times.
2) Managing customer demand: consider the strong growth in Internet applications and an explosion of mobile applications; customer demand for information/answers is growing exponentially. By encouraging customers to self-serve brands can nearly eliminate unnecessary inbound enquiries to the contact centre and continue to reduce customer support costs while properly managing customer demand.
3) Refining the customer experience: brands with a proper KM strategy will orchestrate cross-enterprise customer initiatives. Knowledge delivered more speedily achieves two goals: it builds customer satisfaction and trust, and creates a time window to deliver a message about a new product or service.
If you are unsure how to go about implementing a centralised knowledgebase or would like more information about how 1st Central benefitted, you can view an archived webinar covering this exact topic on the Transversal website here.