Businesses spend vast amounts of time, money and resources to build a brand that customers love. But if they fail to ‘put their money with their mouth’ is – by investing in delivering top-notch customer service in their contact centers – they risk squandering their hard-earned reputation.
In an era of fierce competition and highly empowered consumers, customer experience is now seen as the new brand battleground. Millions spent on marketing will be wasted if businesses provide a poor experience when dealing with customers directly. On the other hand, brands who get the customer experience right can track the benefits right through to their bottom line: driving sales, acquisition and loyalty.
Contact center associates are on the frontline of customer service, acting as the brand’s ambassadors. Having the right people and processes in place and following best practices to handle customers is arguably the most important thing a business can do to get ahead.
The right channel for the right situation
An integral part of good customer experience is providing the right mix of channels to fit with customers’ lifestyles and preferences.
Customer service is still an area where person-to-person interaction will often be most effective – more so in the post-pandemic world. Despite the rise of digital and self-serve customer management, 65 percent of non-face-to-face consumer contact still happens over the phone and 15 percent over email. Voice will remain the preferred channel for engagements that rely on empathy and the human touch, so it is essential that brands continue to invest in this area.
However, the rise in technology has opened up new opportunities for businesses to innovate and build new paths for engagement. Digital channels such as webchat, messenger and Twitter are now essential tools in a brand’s customer experience arsenal.
The trick is to allow consumers to choose how they engage, rather than forcing them to go through a certain channel at a certain point in their journey. Customers will have specifically chosen to make contact through their preferred channel, so being overly prescriptive or expecting them to switch will only cause frustration. Avoiding channel bounce is one of the most important ways brands can optimize customer experience.
Listen and learn from your customers
As the use of data becomes the norm, consumer expectations have shifted. Today, customers assume every engagement will be tailored to reflect what is known about them as individuals. Furnishing associates with a history of previous interactions with customers will help them better understand the nature of an issue and offer a more personalized service each and every time.
Similarly, brands can draw directly on customer insights as a barometer to gauge the efficacy of their own processes. For example, using speech and text analytics software across calls can help to plot customer frustration or satisfaction. Interpreting this data allows brands to take informed steps to improve engagement – improving resolution rates and boosting satisfaction.
Your associates are your biggest asset
There’s no question that making the most of data and technology can significantly enhance customer experience. But it’s important not to forget that customer service is first and foremost about engaging with a human being – a single consumer with unique preferences and needs.
Businesses need to make sure they are empowering associates with proven processes for managing customers, giving them the flexibility to use their judgement and determine a solution accordingly. Too narrow a focus on handling times or too rigid an adherence to process can often compromise the ability of an associate to reach a resolution or deliver the best possible outcome.
Offering ongoing training and creating an empowering and motivating contact center culture for those dealing with customers will sharpen companies’ ability to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Winning in the age of the customer
In the end, it’s the people representing a brand that is the ultimate differentiator. If contact centers are the beating heart of a brand’s customer service efforts, then the agents that work in them are the lifeblood. Getting the formula right on the ground allows businesses to truly set themselves apart from their competitors in the age of the customer
As published on Call Centre Services Summit