Three Steps for Customer Service Excellence

The following is a guest blog by Jaime Bailey, Vice President Marketing at Virtual Hold Technology (VHT). For more information on VHT, please visit their website. 

Putting the customer first is nothing new, but service excellence is becoming more competitive than ever before. While reducing hold time for incoming calls was once a key differentiator for brands, today the growth of digital channels means every touchpoint between consumer and brand is a make or break opportunity.

A recent McKinsey Quarterly, The CEO guide to customer experience, focuses on the importance of molding customer interactions and providing high-level insight to improve customer interactions. But a good piece of advice needs specifics. So we’re taking an in-depth look at three tips for how a brand can start growing loyalty.

Simplify the move from touchpoints to a journey

According to McKinsey, customer loyalty isn’t created through individual touchpoints, but “the complete, end-to-end experience customers have with a company from their perspective.” We agree. It’s all about the customer journey!

Why? Well many times, touchpoints are the responsibility of a business silo. The focus is on providing the best experience on that channel, without communicating with the other channels.

If a consumer starts on social media and then jumps to a phone, they have to start the interaction from the beginning. After all, when a brand’s channels aren’t connected, the customer’s information doesn’t travel with them. So even when satisfaction with individual touchpoints is high, the overall satisfaction can be quite low. This is because the customer perceives a company as not centered on their interests or concerns.

Knowing key pieces of information about the customer helps transform disparate touchpoints into a connected journey. As outlined in our e-book, Navigating the Customer Journey, the following four questions are central to the transformation.

– How long have they been a customer?

– Through which channels has the customer navigated?

– What are the customers’ previous brand interactions?

– Is there additional contact information to piece a customer identity together?

The move from individual touchpoints to a customer journey is an important one. When responding to each question, including data and customer commentary will enhance your ability to navigate the customer journey seamlessly and effectively.

Help customers take the best steps on their journey

Thanks to new digital technologies, McKinsey notes that consumers expect personalization in every interaction with a brand. Research cited states that 25 percent of customers defect from a brand after a bad experience. In other words, every interaction on the journey needs to pinpoint and meet personal expectations, including seamless, consistent service across channels.

Companies can take the lead by automating the next appropriate step when a customer interacts on a traditional or nontraditional touchpoint. By making connections between touchpoints, the brand has the added benefit of customer information moving along with them.

For example, Jane places a blue shirt into her online shopping cart, but doesn’t complete the transaction. The following weekend Jane is in the physical store. When she enters, beacons trigger the brand’s app, which then proactively sends Jane an SMS letting her know the blue shirt is available in her size. At the same time, a store associate is notified with details into Jane’s journey – enabling the associate to provide appropriate assistance, and even cross-sell by suggesting complementary pants.

Because the customer’s information travels with them, the automated, next best step doesn’t leave a customer alone on their journey. The company is now an active partner is their success.

Apply metrics wisely

Without metrics, a customer journey might actually be a slog through the swamp. When implementing a system, McKinsey suggests centering on the most important customer-experience measurement for the company. Once they’ve been defined, quantify other relevant indicators with supplemental metrics.

With reams of data available from each customer interaction, identifying the top metrics and pieces together can be time consuming. But when it comes to customer retention, it’s time companies don’t have.

Surveys are a great way to get immediate feedback, especially within the contact center. For example, say a customer waits on hold for 30 minutes without speaking to a representative. When they are presented with a survey option about their experience, they note their frustration with a 3 out of 10.

Instead of sitting in a CRM system waiting for a yearly marketing or customer experience review, this information is relevant today. A customer service manager needs to know if there has been an influx of low ratings, which could indicate an immediate problem. Additionally, a chief experience officer would be interested to know how likely it is for customers that give low ratings to defect.

To remove the manual collection and analysis of information, it’s helpful to have reports that:

– Connect the journey: define customer experience flows to establish the relationship between interactions and outcomes.

– Measure the success or failure of individual interactions: associate data from structured and unstructured sources for the right level of insight.

– Leverage data from CRM systems and other enterprise tools: provide context to captured data from external sources.

To compete on excellence, companies must make continual improvements to the customer journey or risk falling behind. Companies now need to pair these insights with practical applications to show value today.