How do you ensure a positive customer experience?
The US chamber of commerce estimates that 68% of customers leave a company because they feel undervalued.
So, you will have to treat them well.
How do you do that?
Would you agree if I say that it has to be through the provision of positive customer experiences? I am sure you would agree with it.
Let us look at how we can provide positive customer experiences. I will talk about a couple of scenarios.
Customer experience – Scenario 1
I was moderating a panel discussion recently, and one of the panelists shared this scenario with us during the session.
He booked a hotel for a 4-night stay in Gurugram using an Online Travel Agency. It was a non-refundable booking. When he checked in, he somehow did not like the hotel, and he expressed that to the hotel staff. The hotel staff apologized and suggested upgrading him to the suite room. He wasn’t convinced, and he decided to shift to a better hotel.
So, he called the Online Travel Agency and told them that he had booked this hotel and wasn’t comfortable staying there. The agent said he would figure out if something could be done while listening to this.
If he had to follow the Standard Operating Procedures, the agent would have said, “We are sorry about the fact that you don’t’ like the hotel, but since it is a non-refundable booking, we are not in a position to help you.”
However, this agent took this up with the higher-ups within the online travel agency, made sure that he got the refund, booked him in another hotel, and helped him with the process of checking in. The agent even checked whether he was comfortable with the new place.
What happened here?
The agent had enough data to know that ‘So and So’ has booked more than 500 nights through their portal in the last ten years. The agent knows that he is a loyal customer of the portal because of an integrated system they had. He was empowered to decide to push for a refund of a non-refundable booking by going against the SOPs.
The agent ensured that the customer’s lifetime value only increased with this phenomenal customer experience.
Customer experience – Scenario 2
A few months ago, in the US, I subscribed to a new phone connection, and the telco’s call center agent told me that the phone would be automatically unlocked in two months. I specifically asked this question as to when it would be unlocked, as I keep traveling to India very often. I believed that I could use the same phone if the provider unlocked it.
But, after two months, I realized that it was not unlocked. So, when I inquired with the call center again, I was told that it would be unlocked, only when all the dues were cleared. This was a surprise for me. So, I told them about my conversation with the agent before subscribing to their plan.
They had no provision to unlock before all their dues were collected. It was a mistake committed by an agent, and now this has become a customer service/experience issue.
What should have happened here?
The agent should have been empowered with the right kind of data, and monitor calls with voice analytics to pick anything out-of-the-ordinary. A good voice analytics platform would have raised a red flag on this automatic unlocking conversation. After which, they could have called me and clarified it. They could have taken this up as a training need and ensured that the agent was empowered to handle such issues in the future.
What needs to be done to ensure positive customer experiences?
1. Give your customer experience teams the resources they need to succeed
Your agents need to get the necessary assistance to implement decisions and effectively perform their roles. It is essential to have support from all the other IT systems integrated.
This would mean a platform with one view of the customer and one interface for the agents, irrespective of the channels that customers choose to interact with. You should provide your agents with a unified dashboard, where they can access all the information about the customer through the click of a button.
2. Seeking feedback for process changes
Seek agents’ feedback on what your customers expect. They are the front-line of customer service, and they would see opportunities invisible to people who don’t have their feet on the ground. Your customer service agent’s experience sets the tone for your customer experiences. Seek their feedback positively, and try to incorporate the suggestions as a part of your customer experience process.
Keep your agents updated about your organization’s goals and plans for the future. Let them be an inclusive part of your goals and plans.
When your agents feel that they have a voice in the customer experience operations, they will feel empowered.
3. Train, train, and train
Train your agents on different possible use cases that you encounter. I am sure, as a customer experience function, however mature you are, you would encounter at least 4 to 6 new use cases every week. Capture them diligently, and use them as a part of your continuous training.
This would also allow you to capture the best practices based on customer happiness, and use that as a part of the training as well.
Train them to make informed decisions based on the technology that you have available. Always err on the positive side in favor of customers. If you have trouble understanding what needs to be done, go with what the customers want. You would be happy for the experience in the long run.
A couple of things that would help in your training tremendously are voice and text analytics; and call and screen recording. Please don’t do them as a means to police your agents, instead do them to learn where we go wrong and incorporate them as a part of your training.
4. Intelligence from analytics and recording
Let me give you a use case of voice analytics for us to appreciate it better:
When the pandemic struck, the call volumes at a bank’s call center went up drastically. They were moving their agents to work from home, and the call volumes were increasing. So, their time to resolve customer queries went up, which made their customers unhappy.
They decided to automate their processes to handle their customer queries better. There wasn’t any consensus on what could be automated. Voice analytics of their calls revealed the commonly asked straightforward transactional queries, and they took those up for their first level of implementation.
This helped the bank set up self-service tools on their digital platforms. It brought down the number of calls that the call center was receiving, and it helped in addressing their customer queries faster and better.
Let me give you an example of screen recording:
An old customer who is not digitally savvy clicks on a link sent by your organization and subscribes to an annual service unknowingly. It gets added to his subsequent months’ bill. When he receives the bill, he understands that something is amiss. He calls up your call center.
One of your agents picks the call and flatly refuses to entertain his request stating that he doesn’t know that he has subscribed to a service, and he has never used that service. The screen recording shows the information that the agent accessed before responding to the customer.
It shows that he didn’t spend time checking the customer’s usage of the subscribed service from the date it was subscribed.
These recordings help you assess the quality of your operations apart from providing inputs on what information needs to be accessed.
5. Strong integrations
You should sign up for a platform that has robust integrations with your CRMs, helpdesks, ERPs, and other best-of-breed IT solutions that would allow you to provide an excellent customer experience.
This is what would provide one view of your customers from across all the systems through which your customers interact.
6. Track the right metrics
Don’t be hung up on AHTs and FCRs. Instead, focus on whether the objectives of the customers are met.
How do you do this?
You should have a robust platform that can understand the needs of the customer, make an educated decision on the resolution times, and match it with how the agent has handled it. This would allow your customer experience function to improve every moment incrementally.
An integrated customer experience platform would mean the availability of intelligence with the power to make decisions for your front-end customer service folks.
Happy call center is the recurring theme with which every customer experience function should operate.
Empower your agents, bring in intelligence, and you will have excellent customer experiences, happy call centers, and happier customers.