Conscious of the growing need to relate with customers in order to stay competitive, UK brands are taking a more personal and proactive approach, according to VoiceSage’s John Duffy
Do you know what great customer service is?It is solving a customer problem before they even realise they have one?It is companies that can predict these customer needs that will take the lead?
Forward thinking companies can foresee where, when and how their customers want to be reached and on what issues.But how far are we from this kind of seamless and effortless service in the UK?
In the 2017 Proactive Customer Service survey we’ve just carried out in, we’ve found that UK call centres are applying themselves to change and they are making real progress.
A major take away from our survey spotlighted the fact that brands are reaching out and getting more personal.Surprisingly, despite the digital age we live in, much of this personal contact is still being made on the telephone (60%). This is followed by email (26%), post/letter (7.5%) and SMS (6%).
Our survey shows that proactive service is also central to innovative CX brand strategies. Proactive customer support is about identifying and resolving customer issues before they become problems. Proactive Service increases customer loyalty, decreases support calls and enables customers to engage with the brand.
The call centre landscape has changed dramatically. Back in 2012, analyst firm Gartner found that only three out of ten companies expected to compete for business based on a great customer experience. In 2016, Gartner found that the figure had leapt to nine out of ten companies.
Connecting with the customer
Our survey took a deep dive into customer service today and explored two key areas, garnering responses from 150 practitioners working in a broad sector, from public service to accountancy and hospitality.
In the first we examined the communication channels being used, the degree to which brands are mapping out and personalising their customer journeys, and how many interactions it is taking to resolve issues. In the second, we explored moves to Proactive Service.
Charting the customer journey
The majority of those surveyed (56%) said they now actively track their customer journey. The same number of respondents (56%) also said they also have access to previous conversations with customers across channels.
This highlights the fact that a high percentage of organisations have deployed integrated information and contact routing systems. A further 18% of respondents said they are developing these capabilities, which is a very positive.
Significantly, 69% of respondents said that they can offer personalization and 21% said they can offer it in a limited way.
Proactive is the way forward
Proactive Service isa fast growing trend. 75% of respondentssaid they already pursue proactive outreach to customers. 87% believe Proactive Service will make substantial savings in inbound contacts each year.
We also looked at two emerging Proactive Service channels – SMS and Automated Voice. Over half of respondents (51%) use SMS, while 72% said they believe using text for proactive contact to be ‘Effective’ or ‘Very Effective’. Of those that had used SMS as a Proactive Service method, 30% said response rates are getting either ‘Better’ or ‘A Lot Better’.
A very high 71% believe SMS technology could result in less in-bound calls for their teams, while greater use of SMS combined with social media would result in staff managing more interactions.
Finally 19% have used Automated Voice.58% said it has been ‘Effective’ in achieving their goals, while 75% said response rates are getting ‘Better’ or ‘About the Same’.
The omnichannel highway
The Proactive Customer Service survey shows that companies are putting some real muscle behind support systems and customer journey mapping to meet and exceed customer service expectations. At the same time, they are looking to adopt new channels to make omnichannel a reality.
Technologies like SMS, voice and social media are fast establishing themselves as valuable tools, enabling contact centre managers and brands to offer proficient and cost effective services capable of turning customers in to loyal brand ambassadors.
John Duffy is Enterprise Sales Consultant at customer contact tech services specialist VoiceSage