Telephony most efficient and successful
The customer service world keeps developing. With the exponential growth in the number of channels, new platforms have emerged to manage those channels. And more and more is being automated. However, one thing has been the same for years; customers still see telephony as the most efficient and successful channel. Despite all the new possibilities.
Preference for personal customer contact
That is partly logical; telephone contact feels faster and more direct. Just call and it’s solved. But it also regularly leads to frustrations such as long waiting times, complicated IVRs and the repetition of questions and information. By cleverly combining telephony with other channels, automation and clear information, you decrease the number of calls and frustrations.
Reducing frustrations is also important for creating a 5* experience. Because that’s what customers more or less expect nowadays. They prefer to solve their problem themselves and if that doesn’t work, they don’t want to be sent from pillar to post. Clear information provision and cleverly deployed automation can play an important role in this.
Customer first strategy
This fits in seamlessly with the customer first strategy. Here the customer is king. Companies that use this strategy take the wishes and experiences of customers as input for actions and decisions. Because they affect the customer experience. Such a customer-first strategy, if properly implemented, improves customer satisfaction, ensures that customers stay longer or come back more often, which ultimately leads to growth.
But how do you build a customer first strategy and what do you need? In any case, these 4 steps are essential:
1. Have a customer-first element in your entire business strategy
It’s easy to say that you put your customer first in everything you do in your business. Actually applying it requires more. It means that with every decision made you not only look at the consequences for the company, but also at the consequences for the customer. And then weigh them against each other.
Example: when customer service costs are too high, you don’t choose the easy option of hiding (or completely shutting down) the phone number to save money. Instead, you investigate whether there are other, more customer-friendly ways to ensure that the number of calls is reduced. Is your FAQ section clear enough, can the information provision be improved, can bots handle (part of) the interactions?
2. An omnichannel customer contact platform is the basis of your tech stack
To make this kind of analysis, you ideally work with an omnichannel customer contact platform as the basis of your customer service tech stack. This provides you with more overview and insight because all data from all channels is available in one place. This makes it easier to analyze, improve and (where applicable) automate interactions. You can also test and introduce new ways of customer contact more easily.
Example: in an omnichannel platform, you have access to all elements of the customer journey in one place. Knowledge documents, customer information and customer interactions. When you want to measure something, you simply place a kind of sensor on the relevant element. This then forms the basis for analyses, adjustments and management information. This makes it easier and faster to respond to what is going on without the need for all sorts of separate channel integrations.
3. Focus on the right metrics
There are many metrics within customer service that you can steer on. It is important to not only monitor and use these figures as a benchmark, but to also continuously analyze them from the point of view of improvement. Custom reports are possible in various omnichannel platforms, making it easier to establish relationships between striking numbers.
Example: by monitoring ticket volume you quickly discover peak and off-peak moments. With peaks it is interesting to find out where they came from. For example, were changes in your products or services the cause? And is it possible to prevent such questions by expanding or clarifying the FAQ section on your website? If customers can easily find answers to their questions on their own, they don’t need to contact customer service. If you implement such an improvement, then also monitor whether the ticket volume really decreases.
4. Listen and continuously improve
Don’t just listen to customer responses in the customer service departments, but also keep an eye on it in other departments that are in contact with customers. And use technology as an omnichannel platform to gather feedback and learn from. This is partly related to the previous point. Don’t just look at the metrics, but also analyze what is happening and what you can learn and improve from it.
Example: with sentiment analysis – analyzing spoken text, tone and silences – you teach the chatbot when it is time to switch to an agent. By properly monitoring and continuously improving this, the number of escalations decreases and (chat)bots are increasingly able to handle interactions completely independently.
Agents’ level of education is rising
This automation makes the work of the agents a lot more challenging. The simple questions are handled by bots and the more difficult questions end up with agents. Routed where possible based on skills, knowledge and experience. Partly for this reason, you will see an increase in the training and knowledge level of agents in the coming years. And with that, the service level also increases.
Empathy over speed
Because delivering proper service is ultimately what the customer first strategy is all about and what customers expect. They want to be well assisted, heard and seen when appropriate. Empathy over speed, especially when things get complicated or urgent. So automate where possible, but remain personal and accessible where necessary.