Customer experience is today’s number one USP and it’s revolutionizing the way we do business. While the contact center remains the catalyst for service excellence, every single department must play its part. Rob Clarke at Teleopti sheds light on a few golden rules for corporate-wide customer service.
When research and analyst company Econsultancy conducted a survey for digital marketing trends, it asked companies to state the single most exciting opportunity for 2019. Customer experience came out on top: 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, 73% of buyers point to customer experience as an important factor in purchasing decisions and 65% of buyers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising. All this underlines what organizations have suspected for some time. Rather than focus on products and price, companies are changing their business models to put the customer at the heart of everything and it’s permeating every single part of the organization.
There was a time when the contact center dealt with customers, leaving the accounts department to worry about the numbers, marketing to think up smart publicity campaigns, product management to develop exciting new offerings and operations to make sure the warehouse had enough stock to fulfill sales orders. The shift from product to customer service is turning everything on its head. To be truly customer-focused requires energy and attention from every department. The conversations that accounts, marketing, product management and operations have with customers, inside and outside the organization, are just as relevant and reflect the soundness or otherwise of newly introduced corporate ‘customer first’ programs.
Three golden rules for new-style customer service
To deliver the best customer experience, the entire organization has to work together, pool its knowledge and re-think processes. Everyone should develop the skills traditionally associated with customer care representatives and become highly adaptable, good communicators, problem solvers, excellent listeners and rapport builders. Organizations should ask themselves a new set of questions – what are our customer service goals? How should we plan our people and processes? What technology do we need to support a customer focus? Essentially, how do we galvanize our people to deliver on our customer first promise?
As seasoned experts in the field of customer care, contact centers have a strategic role to play. They are the driving force of customer service best-practice principles, ethos and learning throughout the organization. The following three areas are a good place to start:
1. Choose your people carefully
A good customer experience strategy starts with people. Look for candidates with high levels of emotional intelligence. These are the ones who instinctively understand how the customer is feeling and use that information to find the right words to influence a positive result. The best people are able to blend their intuition with science, for example, reading through a conversation with a Chatbot before picking up seamlessly with the customer. They also exploit their powers of conversation, empathy, creativity, intuition and negotiation to find the right solution for customers.
2. Pick the measurements that fit
Customers really don’t care if you can handle 100 calls every hour and keep them to 2 minutes each if they feel rushed or are passed from pillar to post, customer satisfaction suffers. Consider moving from time-based to service quality metrics such as First Contact Resolution (FCR). Focus on the metrics that matter to your customers and you’ll be on the right track.
3. Share knowledge and data
Successful contact centers know instinctively to work closely with other departments to get the answers and support they need to think outside the box and come up with new ideas for delighting customers. All employees should expand their spheres of liaison and influence beyond HR, marketing, resource planning, quality and training to create an effective, interconnected customer care network. Then, use collaborative tools such as internal chat, enterprise social media and CRM systems to share learning and tips for improving customer service across the whole organization.
Don’t forget workforce planning
Whatever their contribution, all departments should share a common ethos, consistent processes, measurement criteria and the right tools to make it happen. Make Workforce Management (WFM) the common facilitator. Use the latest solutions to:
- Manage and adjust customer-facing staff schedules in real time to meet customer demand
- Build a virtual library of talent, knowledge and qualifications to find subject matter experts and schedule them to support others wherever they work within the organization
- Ensure readiness and future-proof your operations – your WFM system is a strategic forecasting tool and an intrinsic part of business continuity planning. Use it to right-size your organization and conduct ‘what if’ scenarios for all possible eventualities.
- Discover the power of your data by harnessing all that integrates with, and the data that streams through, your WFM suite, to drive intelligent insights about operations, customer experience and employee behavior. From there you can make informed, dynamic decisions to take your customer care to the next level.
Build a robust Workforce Management (WFM) framework to fast-forward your organization-wide customer care program by ensuring customers get the service they want by placing the right data and people in the right place at the right time.