Fundamental Customer Service Strategy – Is Having the Right Technology Platform
I read an article by Shep Hyken titled “The Number One Customer Service Strategy.” It was very insightful.
He talks about an annual customer service research where they surveyed more than 1000 consumers and asked what customer service experiences are most likely to cause them to return.
The top answers belong together: helpful and friendly.
Aren’t these the fundamental things when it comes to customer service strategy?
All that a consumer wants is friendly and helpful agents.
How difficult can this be for an organization to offer?
Before getting there, let us look at why agents provide an experience precisely the opposite of being friendly and helpful.
Agents are at the bottom of the pyramid in the customer experience journey. Still, when a customer calls in, they happen to be the face of your industry. They are expected to know everything you offer, and they get paid the least, and their work is policed the most.
Besides, agents are compensated based on performance and sales within their teams. Most agents face challenges in achieving results, with 95% saying that technology and process challenges in their departments hinder success.
Everything works against them to be the performer you desire the agent to be, which is being friendly and helpful.
They are the most stressed people, when it comes to delivering customer experience.
The reasons for their stress are:
- 26% mentioned finding the right answers to customer questions
- 25% mentioned different systems and information sources giving different answers
- 20% mentioned hopping from one application or window to another
- 14% mentioned it was hard to keep up with all the new information and changes
- 15% mentioned other issues
[Source: A Forbes study]
This is a good starting point. We now know why customer service agents are prevented from delivering their best.
What will be your customer service strategy?
If you look at what is written above, 85% of the stress can be handled with a good technology platform, directly allowing them to be helpful and friendly, thereby positively influencing a great customer experience.
Some of the key features of the platform should be:
Single view of the customers
The agents should have a single dashboard view of the customer irrespective of the channels they use to communication with you – email, phone, chat, social, website, surveys, forms, or experience centers.
This would mean that your contact center platform would have strong integrations with your CRMs, helpdesks, ERPs, and other best-of-breed solutions.
All of these integrations across systems and channels would allow your agents to understand the customer journey in its entirety, and offer the best possible resolutions to their challenges.
With workforce management (WFM) and workforce optimization (WFO) solutions, you don’t have to stress your customer service agents at all. WFM ensures that you have the right people with the right skills doing the right tasks at the right time.
This would take away the average handling time (AHT) pressure, and bring resolution of issues as the focal point.
Reporting and analysis
Reporting and analysis are usually disjointed, and they don’t provide anything meaningful and actionable. Often, you generate gigabytes of data – the reports and analysis become more complicated than ever.
It is believed that managers and supervisors in a contact center environment spend more than 30% of their time putting together the reports, which is a colossal waste of time.
Your platform should support easily configurable reports with dashboard-level insights on what is meaningful to you.
Only 2% of the stored call data gets listened to, while the remaining 98% reside on the storage servers. With voice analytics, you can make the most of your stored call data – it can raise red flags, process flaws, identify frequently asked questions that can be moved to self-service and FAQs.
This would allow you to free up your agents’ time to work on your customers’ complex queries and challenges.
Once you have all of these in place, you are more or less ensuring that your agents are empowered to make decisions – making them more helpful and friendly towards your customers.
Once you take care of the basics of customer service with the right technology platform, you can build on it and improve the experience incrementally.
After all, happier agents make happier call centers and happier customers.