Every transaction is a test of your customer’s loyalty — get it wrong, and it could be enough to prompt them to go to a competitor. Get it right, and it can significantly strengthen your relationship. Plus, expectations are continually rising: customers assume every company they contact can match the best service experience they’ve ever had. If that’s not possible, they’re disappointed — even though they were previously happy with your service. This need to satisfy customers turns the spotlight firmly onto the experience your contact centre provides.
Here are five key ways you can empower your customer by addressing the potential irritants that cause an experience to go sour.
In some cases, the very fact that they need to contact you can upset customers. They feel they’re having to take time out of their busy schedule to resolve something they’d rather not have to deal with in the first place. In these circumstances, no matter how good the experience you provide, you’re starting at a disadvantage.
So, what if your strategy was to take the initiative by proactively contacting your customer where possible?
By pre-empting reasons for contact and acting before it impacts on your customer, you can prevent irritation and create the wow factor instead. From how-to tips for newly purchased products to sharing information about an upcoming event, proactive contact can build a positive experience.
Given that customers are often irritated at having to contact you, frustration only grows if they have to get back in touch about the same issue. Customers resent the time it takes and the need to repeat information, often expecting technology to be in place to remember the details of their query. This is particularly a problem if they’ve had a seamless experience with one supplier and then bring those expectations to your transaction — and you don’t have that facility in place. By putting first contact resolution at the heart of your customer experience, you can protect your customer relationship and maintain loyalty.
Empower your customer by offering a wide range of channels so they can choose how they want to contact you. 59 per cent of consumers have used three or more communications channels to contact a brand’s customer service2. As new channels emerge, customers expect to be able to use them to contact you. You need to be where your customers are, so adopt an omnichannel strategy that has the flexibility to add new channels as they develop. Today, it’s social media. Tomorrow, customers will expect you to be contactable via whatever tech or apps emerge next for smartphones.
Having decided to contact you, customers find any delay hard to bear. Even at peak times, they expect an instant response. For many businesses, staffing a contact centre year-round at the levels required to cope with peak demand is a financial impossibility. This is where AI-powered self-service and automation tools come in. They give customers more freedom for simple or routine interactions, keeping satisfaction levels high, in an easily scalable and cost-effective way.
Already, AI can provide the same level of customer service as a highly skilled agent for straightforward transactions. In fact, using voice recognition software, AI can take on the role of agent and answer questions far more accurately than an agent can. And, although it’s not yet ready to handle more complex queries alone, AI is currently extremely effective in providing information and prompting agents, supporting an outstanding customer experience.
Customers believe that your contact centre has access to all the data they have ever shared with your business and expect a certain degree of personalisation in their service. Effective data analytics are the only way to make this expectation a reality, capturing details of customer interactions throughout their lifecycle with your business and delivering it in user-friendly formats to your agents or using it to power AI-based interactions.
For example, data analytics can judge how customers are feeling by analysing their interactions or can use natural language processing to spot patterns in what they’re saying. Plus, analytics can support proactivity in the customer experience, by tracking the most frequent topics mentioned by customers and identifying issues to address, for example. Taken to the extreme, data analytics could use knowledge of previous interactions to strategically match customers with their ‘ideal’ agent.
However, it’s important to get the balance between proactive, personalised service and privacy right; frequent contact that reveals too much knowledge about the customer can feel like an invasion of personal space and become irritating in itself.
Contact centre solutions to drive a great customer experience
We understand that businesses need resilient services with a high level of availability, especially when they’re moving into new technological areas such as AI. As a result, we use our experience as a global communications company, combined with a broad ecosystem of solutions and providers, to deliver contact centre migration and transformation services that you can rely on.
1 Gladly (2019) Customer Expectations Report. Trends and insights from 1,500 consumers about customer service
2 Microsoft (2018) State of Global Customer Service Report