December 29, 2016
By Chad Hendren
It’s that time of year, when calls from customers fill the contact-center halls. When service agents pick up the phone, they’re doing so much more than handling an issue. They’re creating memorable first impressions, and keeping loyalty alive or even growing it. Solving problems on the fly. Providing friendly directions.
At least, that’s the plan.
Establishing a meaningful, timely connection between customer and agent is the benchmark of service excellence. And technology is at the center of making that connection. Because without the right technology, personal information doesn’t follow customers across channels. That forces them to enter data repeatedly before connecting with a live agent. When that happens, agents are almost always set up for failure. Not only does the rep lack customer details, more often than not, service agents are forced to ask already frustrated people – again – why they’re calling.
Partners can help retailers build contact centers that ensure a smooth customer journey. Below are my three tips for customer experience success.
Gain a Single View to Serve Them All
Agents can offer excellent service only when they’re able to steer a customer toward the best business solution. But that’s possible when they have a 360-degree view of a customer’s journey across channels.
In our experience with achieving desired customer outcomes, a solid view includes:
Buying history: How long have they been customers?
Channel journey: Which channels has the customer navigated prior to routing?
Events: Which interactions has the customer previously had with the brand?
Additional contact info: Email address, social handles? Have there been angry tweets?
When an agent doesn’t have this information readily available, it’s the same as having no information at all. And since an agent is speaking with a client right now, they need it in real time.
A traditional customer relationship management (CRM) system, while great for managing sales and marketing data, lacks the ability to capture live interaction details. Most CRM systems also don’t track transactions that are partial or that cross channels. This means they don’t offer a 360-degree view of interactions.
You can help your customers improve service by thinking in terms of a single outcome-management system that can pull information from current systems, and can consume events in an omnichannel environment. Real-time access to key data points from structured and unstructured sources provides agents with crucial customer insights that can be acted on in the moment of opportunity.
Take “John” for example. He has waited on hold for 30 minutes without speaking to a representative. When prompted with a survey, he rates the company a 3 out of 10. Without a 360-degree view of the customer’s journey, the agent never sees this information. In fact, the first time anyone sees it is during the quarterly customer satisfaction report.
But John’s survey is relevant the moment he hits submit, not three months later. And a customer-service agent can use that ranking to prioritize John and save the relationship. To make the save, however, the agent needs those crucial customer insights, as well as the help of automated navigation assistance.
Choose the Right Moment for a Contact Center
With navigation assistance, companies can proactively engage with customers to help guide their journey. Not only does it save the customer time and energy, it shows their needs are recognized. Navigation assistance originates with a trigger embedded in your channel. When it is set off by an event, an automated, next right step starts the customer on your preferred path in real time or over a defined period. The series of actions halt when desired outcomes are met.
Back to John. When he provides feedback, a rule automatically comes into play that sends an SMS offering an immediate callback. Before John is connected, the agent has access to all of John’s interactions, helping him resolve the issue efficiently.
The automated, next right action provides the correct navigation assistance exactly when it’s needed. So instead of John jumping to his preferred social channel and complaining about the company, he becomes a loyal supporter.
However, it’s important to remember that what counts as the next right action isn’t the same for everyone.
Treat Each Customer Persona Differently
A 360-degree view and navigation assistance are powerful tools in creating customer loyalty. To help ensure success, companies should identify their most valuable segments. They all have different preferences, whether it’s people making frequent purchases, having platinum status or sharing consistently on social media.
The John persona, for instance, is a millennial. He’s always on his mobile. When he clicks “submit” on a bad survey, it makes the most sense for the trigger embedded in that channel to offer an SMS message or automated call. But “Susan” has less time to be on her device. Spending most of her day at a work computer, she’s a much more frequent email user. So had she conducted the bad review, it makes more sense for the automated next step to offer a callback via email.
Additionally, with a 360-degree view of the customer, an agent comes to the conversation with context into the relevant persona.
If used correctly, triggers embedded in channel events, like a web survey, help customer-service agents work effectively and efficiently. In the digital age where loyalty is running thin, you can deliver a new tool for growing it along with customer satisfaction.
Chad Hendren is VP and GM of CX solutions at Virtual Hold Technology.
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