To successfully meet rising customer expectations, everyone in the organization needs to understand that customer service is part of their job. Achieving this requires companies to build a strong culture that embraces the right systems, processes and technology to empower staff and ensuring they have meaningful, empathetic conversations with customers.
How do you deliver this? Woo, Wow and Win, written by Thomas Stewart and Patricia O’Connell gives some useful pointers on where to start. Essentially, it recommends building a service culture based on 5 key principles:
1). Take time to understand customer expectations
There are 101 things you can do to improve customer service, but what will actually resonate with customers and how can you deliver it? Gear your efforts towards analyzing what customers are saying, and use this insight to drive improvements. At the same time ensure you support employees in understanding and meeting customer expectations. Technology is crucial to this, including providing tools such as a centralized knowledge base to help staff address customer questions and problems in a consistent, systematic way. By adopting a self-learning knowledge base it will improve and grow over time, identifying which answers work best and integrating new questions that customers might be asking.
2). Make it easy for the customer
Consumers want their interactions to be seamless and straightforward – in today’s time poor society they value brands that make it easy for them to achieve what they want. This builds trust and long term loyalty, and has been led to the adoption of metrics such as the Customer Effort Score (CES). In fact, research by McKinsey across 44 industries found that those companies who focus on minimizing customer effort saw revenue growth of between 10-15% and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.
At the same time it’s essential that your staff should find it equally easy to provide a good service to customers. The processes and systems that agents use have to be simple and intuitive – because the employees’ user experience is critical to the customer experience.
A good example of this is warranty provider Domestic and General. It implemented a centralized knowledge management system to support 1,400 agents and involved them in the design, resulting in a simple, intuitive interface that made it easy to use. After it went live, First Contact Resolution rates increased, hold times halved and the time taken to train new agents decreased by 20%.
3). Deliver a personal experience to the right customers for your brand
As well as simplicity and speed, today’s customers also want tailored and personalized experiences. Therefore analyze your customer base and study customer interactions to pinpoint what they are looking for – and use this insight to redesign how you operate to best meet their needs. All customers today want fast, accurate and comprehensive service, but increasingly they require more – they want to have meaningful conversations that engage them with the brand.
Ensure that this focus on the customer is delivered across the organization. This can be reinforced by making sure your training and incentives reflect the service behavior your customers are seeking. Use artificial intelligence to analyze the content and tone of incoming digital conversations to ensure that agents are empowered to deliver the right level of empathy. For example, an email that suggests that a customer is angry might go to the front of the queue, while someone with a specialist question can be automatically routed to an employee with specific knowledge to respond.
4). Provide seamless service across channels and touchpoints
Moving to a culture where everyone is focused on the customer, whatever their role does require a shift. Most companies are still organized into discrete departments, that may not communicate internally or collaborate fully. You need to break down these silos and ensure that everyone in the company buys into the service culture. All employees have a responsibility to help deliver the experience you have promised.
There are 3 important considerations in this area:
• Provide everyone who is likely to come into contact with customers with access to the centralized knowledgebase, giving them the information to address customer queries
• Extend your customer service workflow to include your knowledge experts, so that they can be easily brought in when there are specialist or complex queries
• Take a team-based approach to areas such as social media, working with PR and marketing staff to ensure that customer queries never get missed
5). And repeat……..
Customer expectations are always increasing – with customers more demanding now than ever before. This means that for businesses standing still is not an option – fail to continually improve the customer experience and you will slip behind your rivals. Look at what they are doing – and also at what CX leaders in other fields are doing. Benchmark yourself and create a plan and strategy to continually improve using the following 7 stages:
I. Gather insight from customers
II. Identify opportunities
III. Plan and collaborate between teams
IV. Implement and test
V. Monitor the results
In today’s competitive markets, it is only by taking a whole company approach to customer service that you’ll succeed over the long term. Consumers want to have effective, satisfying interactions with your brand, and that requires you to create a culture and infrastructure that supports this, including empowering employees with the information, tools and confidence to open and sustain an ongoing dialogue. Only then will you be able to woo, wow and win them.