Customer experience is the modern day currency for business.Businesses live and die by the customer experience they provide, and failure to focus on delivering a good experience may cause your customers to move away and spend their money elsewhere. We have said it many times before and will say it again - customers are just one click away from your competitors.
This concept has been around for some time and those that fully understand the importance of delivering excellent customer experience, and have been doing so, are reaping the benefits – whilst those who haven’t are being left behind. It’s even more important in this current climate that your focus is on keeping your customers happy and loyal. Contact centre technologies, now commonly referred to as customer experience solutions, give customers access to a business’ expertise, services and products 24/7, all via the channel of choice. This is a business shop window, fitting room, service centre, shopping basket - the customer experience centre of the future.
Every business, regardless of its size, should aim to offer the very best in customer experience, and a contact centre should form an integral part of that strategy.
Having the knowledge about what your customers want and giving your employees the tools they need to deliver it means your business can deliver the very best experience – retaining those customers, and most importantly promoting advocacy. Getting customer feedback is vital to make sure you can constantly improve performance, products and services and will lead to your customers to talk to others about their experience. Net Promoter Score - the percentage of customers rating their likelihood to recommend a company, a product, or a service to a friend or colleague - is now a C level strategic key performance indicator in many businesses.
Equally important is employee experience. Some will argue this is in fact the most important ingredient to providing exceptional customer experience. Make sure your employees have the correct tools to do their job and that they are bought into the process of delivering excellent customer experience and indeed are empowered to do so.
Data analytics underpins everything. Understanding customer behaviour and employee performance, both historically and in real time, gives companies the insight to make informed decisions and deliver excellent customer experience.
Understand the customer journey
How do you know what a good customer experience looks like?
You ask your customer. Market research and customer feedback is essential, as it provides the insight you need on a customer's mindset and helps you create the best customer journey and experience.
The customer has already begun their journey by researching what they want before they contact you. They will have looked at reviews and researched the product or service, and by the time they get to the point of contact with your business they most likely have already made their decision. They may choose to call, email, initiate webchat or use social media to contact you.
As a business you may not always know where the customer is in their journey, but what you can be sure they want, from the point at which they contact you, is a good and consistent experience regardless of their chosen channel for communication. So, you need to try to understand their thought process before they get to you - as well as from that point onwards.
By offering customers the ability to get what they need from the interaction, as easily and smoothly as possible, the experience will be a positive one.
There is nothing more frustrating from a customer perspective than having to give personal information at every step. Using poorly constructed menu systems is a sure fire way to annoy customers, and create a perception that you are a difficult company to deal with – which will put you on the back foot before you get a chance to help them.
Providing AI tools is only beneficial if they are simple to interact with, and they add value in the customer journey so that a customer is actually inclined to use them.
Understand what your agents are doing
How do you know if your agents have the correct tools to deliver an excellent customer experience?
The challenges in the current economic climate mean that now, more than ever, every single enquiry that comes into a business is hugely important - get your customer contact strategy wrong and they will go somewhere else. Having the right contact centre tools and applications will help you deal with their enquiry quickly and in the most appropriate way, provide a customer journey that works, and direct your agents to where they are most useful.
Many businesses are likely to continue to sell their products or services predominantly online - and with this comes the potential for a greater influx of calls, emails, webchat and social media contacts. For those that don’t yet have a contact centre, but see their business operating within this new predominantly online world, it’s time to take that step. Customers want to interact with whoever they’re buying a product or service from via the channel of their choice, and they will want that experience to be as slick as possible. Those “where is my delivery?” or “how do I return an item?” enquiries are simple to respond to but need to be dealt with efficiently, so responding to them automatically via AI can deliver that slick journey customers are looking for.
AI isn’t there to replace an agent, but to complement them. If you bring in AI to take away the mundane, standard tasks, it can reduce human error in repetitive tasks and free up your agents to deal with those enquiries that need that human personal touch. You can then skill your agents to be able to deliver the best customer experience and create a positive journey for your customer.
Workforce management and workforce optimisation tools are vital in understanding agent performance in the contact centre, and ensuring you have the correct resources to meet customer demand. These tools can automate manual processes such as forecasting and scheduling, freeing up time to concentrate on improving performance of agents.
Gamification is now widely used in contact centres to provide healthy competition between agents, in terms of personal and team performance, and providing rewards and prizes for hitting targets or exceeding performance thresholds.
The key is to make sure your agents enjoy what they are doing and feel involved in the process of delivering and improving customer experience. Happy and empowered employees can lead to hugely improved customer experience (EX=CX² - read more about this in our previous article)
Making the most of management information
Data analytics is key.
Contact centre solutions log all the information your business needs to make informed decisions, in order to manage contact centre resources efficiently - matching customer demand with agent availability, constantly improve agent performance and ensure you deliver a consistent and excellent customer experience, across all contact channels.
Contact centre management is the balancing of resources to meet the demand - and this is achieved by using real time and historical information. The insight from the customer during the sale and post-sale needs to be fed back into the business to enhance the journey. Know your customer’s journey and enhance it with the right options at the right time. A simple way to look at this is using the real time information on how customers are contacting you, and what they are looking for. For example, if most people calling are choosing option 7 in your IVR, then you should be changing the order of your options to improve the customer experience. Historical data allows you to predict behaviour and analyse past performance to optimise future performance.
Speech analytics offers further enhancements for training and performance management. Need your agents to mention a particular offer on every call? Speech analytics can identify those calls where the offer was missed and therefore a potential upsell opportunity could be lost. Emotions running high on a call? Sentiment tracking can assess where a supervisor might need to be involved to be able to interact with a customer and achieve a better outcome.
Blend data from customer behaviour and feedback, with employee performance and the performance of your business as a whole. If you match against strategic goals such as sales growth, conversion rates and net promoter scores, and then model how to create the best experience - you’re heading in the right direction.
If staying ahead of the game, staying competitive and offering an excellent customer experience is your business strategy, then investing in contact centre tools should be your priority.