The following is a guest blog written by Sara Wright, Marketing Director at Dialog Direct.
Seattle. The Emerald City – best known for its coffee, rain, grunge and … customer experiences? From September 28th through the 30th, the Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle became the hub for connecting customer service professionals with their peers, creating engaging discussions around the trends, challenges and best practices related to the customer service industry. There was much to be gained at the Customer Response Summit, from conversations in the hallways to soaking in expertise at the panels and presentations. We combed through our notes to share our most valuable bits of information gained.
#1: Digital and Traditional Channels Need to Integrate Seamlessly
A strong and reoccurring theme throughout the Customer Response Summit was the consensus that a robust customer service strategy must assume a holistic online-offline perspective. With the proliferation of communication channels and devices, customers expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another.
In 2015, the customer service industry continues to think about ways to create customer-centric, omni-channel experiences. The end goal is to focus on the user experience and create one-to-one relationships with customers integrated across all their favorite channels – email, SMS, video, chat, social media, and phone, in-store and on desktops, mobiles, and tablets. For example, if a customer has been browsing your how-to videos on your FAQ page on topic A, and then turns to Facebook and asks a different question on topic B, the company should be able to bring together all that data and respond promptly with a concise and useful answer.
The customer expects you to know who they are, what they want, and how they last interacted with your brand. To help seamlessly integrate the multi-channel experience, allowing your brand to truly understand the customer, the use of a CRM was discussed. A CRM that captures data of all interactions will allow your phone agents to see social and online data and your social customer service agents to see phone dispositions, giving all of your team members access to the most up-to-date customer data.
#2: Effortless Experiences
From multiple call transfers to slow systems, there are numerous causes to an increase in customer effort. These obstacles are not always easy to identify, making them difficult to remove. To begin to reduce customer effort, you need to understand the obstacles that get in the way of an effortless experience.
Start by being your own customer. Use your customer service line, visit the stores, secret shop, and use feedback from disgruntled customers. This firsthand insight will help you highlight the biggest problems and will allow you to start strategizing a plan to reduce customer effort. An example that I discovered while researching the topic a little more was a story on how Ameriprise Financial sought to reduce customer effort. They asked their customer service reps to capture every instance in which they were forced to tell a customer no. While auditing the “noes,” the company found many legacy policies that had been outmoded by regulatory changes or system or process improvements. During its first year of “capturing the noes,” Ameriprise modified or eliminated 26 policies. It has since expanded the program by asking frontline reps to come up with other process efficiencies, generating $1.2 million in savings as a result (1).
This strategy is similar to a comment received at the Customer Response Summit. An attendee told the story of their “Kill a Stupid Rule” campaign with the goal of calling out rules that hindered experiences, reduced employee happiness, or increased customer effort. You may find that reducing customer effort starts by simply reevaluating your company policies.
#3: Customer Experience Metrics Are Not “One Size Fits All”
Traditional measures such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and First Contact Resolution (FCR) seem to be the common measures to understand the customer’s perception of the support they receive. Are these the right measures for your business? Maybe, maybe not. Most organizations are trying to solve for (or should be trying to solve for) reducing customer effort, increasing the customer experience and increasing brand loyalty, but we have operational needs to consider as well like cost, handle time, and adherence to schedule. How do you balance both without hindering the experience?
During the Customer Response Summit, Scott Shute from LinkedIn gave an example that I can picture over and over again in my head. Scott was traveling with his wife and three young children during the busy holiday travel season. Their first plane was delayed, creating an incredibly small window of time for his family to get to the gate of their connecting flight. Scott was determined to make the flight as it would be incredibly hard to reschedule. After running like a track star to the gate, Scott told the airline attendant his story and asked if she would allow his family 90 seconds to catch up and get to the gate. The attendant heard his story, looked in his eyes, and then, slowly walked over to the boarding door. What did she do next? Nope, she did not escort the family personally onto the plane; she closed the door to the jetway!
Can you imagine traveling for the holidays with small children, running across the airport, and making it to the gate in time – all just to miss the plane? Why did the airline attendant have no empathy? Simply put, it’s because the metric that she was being evaluated on was “on-time” flights. A perfect example of how good metrics go bad. While this is a good metric operationally, it can backfire horribly on the customer experience. We learned at the Customer Response Summit that metrics should be based upon the customer, not the operations, if you want to truly create a brand built on the customer experience.
#4: Happy Employees Deliver Happy Customers
The customer experience is nothing without customer-oriented service, and customer- oriented service is impossible without people. Consumers 2020 reports that by the year 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. If this is true (and as customer service professionals, we are already seeing this upward trend), we need to treat our employees as we want them to treat our customers.
Some tips given at the Customer Response Summit to create a loyal employee experience include following a closed-loop process with your employees as you would your customers. Just like when addressing customer rage, when employees give you feedback, LISTEN! More importantly, it’s not enough to only listen;let them know that you hear them, and tell them what you are going to do about it!
One of my favorite tips I heard at the Summit was to not assume that your employees know how they affect the customer experience. You need to tell them! At Dialog Direct, we have a “WOW story” program:every week, we share a story about how one of our frontline employees created a “WOW” experience for a customer or even for another employee. This reminds the team that each and every day, they personally have the power to positively or negatively affect someone’s day. It’s exciting to see the lightbulb turn on in someone’s head and watch them get really excited to make someone’s day. By setting the stage and removing the roadblocks, you allow employees to create remarkable experiences and feel empowered and more satisfied with their work.
#5: Follow the Data
Customer engagement strategies are fueled by customer data. Understanding what customers have done, what channels they’ve used, what products they’ve purchased, and what service interactions they’ve had are all important data sources that can be used to build predictive models. Leverage cookie data and past-purchase data to help develop and train models. These models are critical in helping service teams understand which customers need your attention, which customers are about to churn, which customers are most likely to purchase again or buy more frequently, and which customers are likely to call in and check the status of an order, claim, or billing issue.
As companies gain a deeper understanding of customers through research and predictive analytics, they will use that information to develop more individualized customer experiences, such as reaching out to the right customer at the right time, using their preferred channel, and delivering a personalized offer pre- or post-purchase. Another example: service teams will leverage the power of predictive analytics to route callers to the phone agents who are “the most likely to help” based on the anticipated reason for the call. Similarly, predictive can assist in finding which type of agents can be paired to the right type of caller to improve the FCR. They will use learnings from these proactive engagements to improve operational performance and to predict future customer behavior.
#6: The Whip and Nae Nae Is Not as Hard as We Thought!
We came, we saw, we nae nae-ed.
What do you have to add to this list?
But, wait … There’s more!
We enjoyed meeting everyone at the show and would like to share with you our 2015 “Customer Rage” study. This free, detailed study offers primary research on the issues Americans are experiencing with brands and examines customer-complaining behavior.
For more information on how Dialog Direct can help you implement these these and other customer experience strategies into your call center, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org