As brands ramp up competition for attention and wallet space, your customers could be one click away from switching to a rival. Therefore, it’s vital to differentiate yourself in a manner that’s going to be of ongoing benefit to your customers. A great one-off campaign or an irresistible introductory deal might lure customers to your business, but will it keep them there?
This is where the experience you offer over the full relationship truly comes into its own. According to Dimension Data’s latest Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, 81% of companies see customer experience as a differentiating competitive factor.1 The contact centre is a vital hub that much of the experience you offer will be built around. Get it wrong and it could be disastrous for your brand in the long term, both in terms of wasted expenditure and customer retention.
But making an effort to excel will hold onto customers for years, while allowing you to deliver first-class service without breaking your bank. Here’s how you can begin raising the bar of your contact centre.
1. Context in communication
Customer touchpoints matter. If someone has to give the same details to you over the phone that they painstakingly gave to you on a previous call or web form, you’re starting the engagement with a frustrated customer who has potentially just had two minutes of their precious lunch break wasted.
But why not go further? A joined-up image of the customer journey and relationship when they contact you will enable you to deliver a quicker, more effective level of service. For example, if a banking customer has spent 15 minutes browsing content on a bank’s website about mortgages, fast-tracking them to a relevant mortgage specialist is going to save both of you time and increasing the chance of a positive outcome.
2. Uncouple channels from silos
Following on from this, in the eyes of a customer, they will be having multiple conversations with you across multiple channels. They may Tweet you a question one day, have a call with you on another, and speak to a chatbot a week later. They may know they’re speaking to different people, but at an enterprise level, they may be speaking to entirely different teams for each channel.
This causes a problem when those teams aren’t joined-up, and each new interaction has minimal awareness of the previous ones. Contact centres need to seek solutions that allow them to seamlessly share conversation data across teams to provide a far better level of care and service.
3. Smarter minimisation of marketing waste
As a growing number of contact centres gain an improved level of clarity on the journey that people follow before calling up, companies can identify what they are paying for and when it’s not necessary. This is particularly important when people are clicking on paid search adverts simply to make support enquiries. Moreover, this problem becomes extenuated when people call sales numbers directly from Google with service needs.
A lot of today’s contact centres are gifted with a young, technologically savvy workforce. They’re adept at fast searching, quickly accessing data and insights to deliver a higher quality service. A contact centre that is providing its agents with slow, outdated technology will fail to tap into the full value of this skilled workforce.
5. Call deflection
You should never make it difficult for people to find your support number if they need to call you. But ultimately, most customers want to avoid calling the contact centre if they can solve their issue easily on your site. This is the preferred outcome of both you and your customers.
One way of achieving this is by getting a clear handle on what support pages are driving the most calls, and working to make those pages more effective at solving the relevant problems. By deflecting calls in this way you will have a more helpful site, and your call agents will be free to provide more in-depth attention to those more complex cases that do require a call.
In an age of increased digitisation, many industries are reducing the number of locations and services they offer on the high street. In many ways, this is fine with the customer as many of them are now used to shopping and accessing basic services online. But what about when they need those in-person services that only a store or branch could provide? For example, when receiving in-depth advice about products or services, especially on big purchases that may require some levels of customisation.
Those needs don’t disappear just because the store has, so therefore this transition means two things. Firstly, the contact centre is now where some of the most meaningful and direct engagements with your customers will take place. Secondly, with an increased percentage of your total human-to-human interaction taking place in the contact centre, the opportunities for it to drive revenue need to be seriously examined.
In her report on the role of customer service in the banking industry, Forrester's Aurélie L'Hostis highlights this shift as an important development.
"Banks must redefine their customer service strategy, building on a foundation of operational efficiencies to deliver differentiated service experiences in line with customers' expectations and turn the contact centre into a profit centre."2
Aurélie L’Hostis | Analyst, Forrester
7. Data-informed staffing
Delivering the best service possible needs to be the minimum expectation at all hours, but overloading your contact centre will add unnecessary costs without adding any extra benefit to your audience. Likewise, if you’ve not got the staff in place to deliver the standard of service they expect, you’re going to end up with unhappy customers with little interest in remaining loyal to you.