As the New Year approached, I thought about the state of customer service at enterprises. As someone who spends a lot of time re-imagining the possibilities of customer service, the first thing that comes to my mind is the challenges. What ticks off customers? Why aren’t contact centers as productive as they can be? What impedes enterprises from delivering a memorable experience to customers?
As I went about answering these questions, the answers evolved to a list. And I find that this list can be viewed as customer service or contact center trends for 2013. So take a look and let’s talk about what it takes to deliver a great ‘experience.’
01. Provide customers a seamless service experience across channels
Customers get frustrated when they have to reiterate their issues – whether it’s speaking to different agents, or going through the same process on IVR and chat. Here’s a thought: if your customer started resolving an issue on your self-help portal, can she/he pick up where they left off when they talk to your agent? Now that’s an integrated service experience.
02. Provide accurate, complete and reliable customer self-help options
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Studies show that more then 40% customers feel a delayed resolution is the most frustrating aspect of customer service. What you need is a comprehensive and predictive self-help solution. So customers can solve simpler issues on their own. The benefits: happier customers, and less traffic to your contact center.
03. Connect customers to the right expert, faster!
What happens when you have a customer with problem area X talking to a contact center agent who doesn’t know much about it? It’s a recipe for disaster. But you also have agents who know all about problem area X at the back of their hand. So what you need to do is to route calls to the right subject matter expert and make your customer service more effective.
04. Give agents a unified view of the customer’s service history
Do your agents toggle between 12 different applications for information about the customer’s previous interactions? If they do, productivity is affected. Can they get information about customer preferences in one click? If they don’t, how will they deliver a memorable and truly ‘personalized’ service experience? What they really need is a unified view of the customer, with access to the complete history of customer interactions across channels – voice, chat, IVR, email, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
05. Improve contact center performance with real-time insights
You probably have performance dashboards. But do they give your senior executives a real-time view of parameters like call categories, agent availability, or queue management? With real-time analytics, you can help them make better decisions on workforce optimization. They’ll also find it easier to monitor agent efficiency, process compliance, and SLA adherence.
06. Provide a one-stop knowledge shop for agents and customers
A knowledge repository is an easy way to improve agent expertise and self-help success rate among customers. To create this repository, you need to make knowledge deployments more agile and more social. A possible solution is an application that will make content grow quickly, in line with customer demand, and with minimal overhead management costs.
07. Empower agents to be revenue-enhancers, and not just problem-solvers
Industry data shows that for every successful issue closure, there is a 20% increase in cross-sell rate. But cross-selling will increase when two things happen. One, when agents can solve issues faster so the customer is more receptive. Two, when agents have more information about the customer’s service history. The solution, once again, is a unified view of the customer.
08. Facilitate more self-help and peer-care options on social media
When customers hear from someone facing a similar issue, they see it as credible advice. Social media is a really cost-effective self-service channel. Here, you can facilitate integrated chat service, greater crowdsourcing options, and a peer-to-peer community approach that not only resolves issues, but also deepens engagement and improves loyalty. You’ll also benefit by reducing traffic to your contact center.
09. Evaluate your applications: how fast are you seeing returns?
If 2013 is the year you want to transform customer service, don’t get stuck with an application that gives you returns in 2014 or beyond. Choose an application where the proof is in the pudding. If the provider doesn’t have a case where the application delivered returns in a few months, then it shouldn’t even make your shortlist.
10. Use the cloud for customer service processes and applications
The cloud is a great way to improve efficiency, drive down costs, and increase agility – all at one go. The best part: when you use a cloud-based solution, you’ll be able to accelerate your customer service transformation and effect big changes in matter of weeks.