Customers today have myriad ways of reaching businesses from email and social media to video chat and the phone. As a result, customer and associate interactions are becoming increasingly complex while customers expect optimal services across channels.
Companies that fail to invest in customer service are missing opportunities to boost customer loyalty and advocacy and gain a competitive advantage. Contact centers, however, are in need of a renaissance in terms of resources and operations to provide customers with optimal experiences. When assessing your company’s service strategy, here’s how I suggest making contact centers more “intelligent” to improve customer experiences.
1. Clean up Your Data
The proliferation of channels and data often forces associates to navigate multiple data systems and extensions to find the information they need to help customers. This leads to delays and repeated requests for information which negatively impact the customer experience.
While business leaders may be aware that customers want to reach companies at their convenience through multiple outlets, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of data integration. Asking customers to revalidate information is annoying and creates a bad impression, but the more systems you have, the more extensions associates are running on their computers, which makes everything more complicated when they have to pull data from various places. Solutions that let associates and other employees access the information they need on one interface are ideal, many of which include data quality and cleansing tools.
2. Use Analytics to Identify Problem Areas
Once your company’s data systems are aligned, use that opportunity to find actionable patterns and insights. If you’re able to connect all your systems, you should look for the common threads that point to customer needs. Data mining and real-time analytics are just some of the tools that can help companies keep track of service interactions.
For example, it’s common to record and document phone calls with customers but not all companies leverage this gold mine of customer insights. Savvy companies put analytics to work on determining through the calls they get what’s trending and what people are calling about. The contact center holds the heartbeat of a company and leaders need to listen to it.
3. Rally Associates Around the Right Metrics
Metrics can change the way employees approach a business and practically everything about a business is measurable, so it’s up to companies to prioritize the critical areas. Performance metrics like customer satisfaction scores or Net Promoter Score (NPS) are important for helping companies understand where they stand with customers, and help employees focus on providing better experiences.
NPS isn’t a perfect indicator of customer satisfaction but the point is companies should try to get the full picture when measuring their interactions with customers and not rely on just one metric.
4. Empower Associates with Proper Training
Even as automated solutions get better at answering questions via text or voice, companies still need people to solve complex problems. Therefore, it’s crucial for companies to prepare associates with better training and the right tools. There’s no question that contact centers are changing, but there’ll always be a need for people who can solve complicated issues that involve gray areas. Companies can help associates in these situations by simplifying the chain of command or empowering people to make some decisions on their own, such as determining when to offer a disgruntled customer a refund or not.
By arming associates with the right technology and training, companies can turn a tedious experience into an opportunity for enhancing customer relationships.
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