Poor customer service is costing businesses more than 75 billion dollars a year. That number should scare you – or at least inform you that most contact centers will (and should) consider how they can up their game in the years to come.
Discover exactly what it takes to deliver incredible customer experiences visit after visit, call after call.
In these strange and challenging times, companies are facing the difficult task of increasing their profits without sacrificing their level of service. People still expect great service from you, but creating those life-long loyal customers requires a disciplined and effective approach.
Forget the difficult, expensive, and complicated strategies someone told you to follow. Let’s give you one post-pandemic business advice:
We believe implementing a true omnichannel contact center should serve as the foundation of any successful customer service business.
By the end of this article, you will not only realize how everything related to achieving great customer service is connected to your omnichannel contact center, but how it’s also paramount when adding components like anything from reporting and AI, to integrations and cost-reducing technology.
The #1 answer customers give when asked about what it would take for them to remain loyal?
“Make sure the contact center advisers are aware of my service history — so I don’t have to explain myself multiple times”
— CallMiner survey 2020
First of all, let’s make one thing clear right from the get-go. Isn’t multichannel and omnichannel the same thing?!
No! Multichannel and omnichannel tend to be used interchangeably, but they are certainly not the same – by no means.
With multichannel support, you are simply offering customers more than one way of contacting you. In this environment, each communication channel operates as its own silo with its own team of agents.
Unfortunately, this renders any meaningful information sharing between channels impossible. Usually, this is because most companies think in terms of tickets. A customer calls you about a problem? The phone team creates a ticket. That same customer sends you an email? The email team creates a second ticket. Meanwhile, each team works their respective tickets. This is a recipe for customer frustration (and unhappy customers = churn).
Please, please, please – let’s just immediately stop providing our customers with this type of “service”.
With omnichannel service experiences, the contact center and every single touchpoint is joined together. A human agent can effortlessly move between channels, and your customers should not notice even a 1% change in service quality across platforms. More importantly, omnichannel contact centers are designed around one simple concept:
The customer experience should be flawless, easy and awesome.
What the doctor orders: Think customer-oriented, not ticket-oriented
Now, your customers demand a lot. And you should provide them with more than they came for – 10 out of 10 times. That means improving the quality of customer interactions across all channels. When your agents answer the phone, they have to know that the person on the other line was in touch with you via chat two weeks ago. And exactly how that interaction went.
To do so, you need data and insights. Too often, we speak with service managers who are just becoming tired and frustrated by endlessly searching through reports from five, six, or even seven, different solutions. They want to improve, but don’t know where to begin.
With omnichannel service experiences, the contact center and every single touchpoint is joined together.
A human agent can effortlessly move between channels, and your customers should not notice even a 1% change in service quality across platforms. More importantly, omnichannel contact centers are designed around one simple concept: The customer experience should be flawless, easy and awesome.
Are your agents working from home or from a different location/country?
A modern service operation requires modern tools. This includes infinitely customisable dashboards and analytics on how your agents are doing across platforms.
Make sure your contact center solution have a feature that allows our clients to optimize workflow, measure their agents’ productivity and workload efficiency. In two clicks, they access reports that show them exactly how much time agents spend active or inactive during the day.
No matter what you do, consider if you have the technology to increase the effectiveness of your contact center, especially right now when the whole nature of work is changing around us.
Lesson of the day: Knock on your manager’s door and tell them to make omnichannel service experiences your company’s #1 priority!
Whether the customer is contacting you via either:
- Social media
Your agents must have total access to every single interaction a customer has had with your company – easy and immediately!
If your agent has to switch between two, three, four, or perhaps even five solutions to handle customers, you’re in trouble. That means your agent is going to be frustrated, even before trying to handle an even more frustrated customer.
Pro tip: Make sure you meet the customer in the channel best suited to their needs.
For example, we’ve noticed a steady rise in the popularity of text message-based service interactions. SMS provides your customer with a more hassle-free option to resolve non- time-sensitive queries. Your agents could even consult each other to identify the best solution, before resolving the customer’s issue. If these interactions were only available through telephone, customer wait time would increase. If your agent wanted to consult a colleague, they would also have to put the same customer on hold.
Whether it’s sending out notifications or newsletters, channels like SMS or chat are highly effective for customers on the go. You will never achieve truly incredible service quality before offering your customers a seamless experience across platforms.
And remember: Seamless = omnichannel.
A customer is not going to tell you they want more effortless alternatives. They expect you to know.
The Benefits of True Omnichannel Support
A client once told us about a regular occurrence in their contact center: One customer contacts one service rep, before that same customer calls back a week later regarding the same issue. Now, because this company is only multichannel-based, those two agents create two tickets.
In the end, the customer receives two different solutions to their problem.
Of course, this customer ends up frustrated and confused, while the two agents eventually realize they’ve been wasting their customer’s precious time, and not to mention, their own.
After switching to omnichannel support, the same client managed to integrate all their various channels into one unified interface, so agents can view conversation history and maintain context even when switching between multiple channels.
We’re sure you can understand how the consistency of their service output changed overnight, keeping customers from getting frustrated and taking their business elsewhere.
Does any of this sound familiar to your situation? Keep on reading, there is more to learn!
“Good customer service is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but very few actually do anything about it”
– Colin Taylor
Reports Are Treasure, So Make Sure You Bring The Right Tools For The Job
Any successful business knows that gold is hidden somewhere deep within their systems and customer interactions. If you know what’s good for you, invest in an analytics tool that can extract that precious data for you and tell you where there’s room for improvements. In order to explain this as easy as possible, let’s attack this from a few different angles:
Achieving a great quality of service?
Effective reports will provide you with all the insights you need to discover just how good or bad you’re doing in terms of service experiences – across all your customer service channels, and in one unified view. The right tool will highlight exactly which channels are delivering the best experiences, and where you should focus on improving.
Asking 100 random customers about their satisfaction with you is not enough. You need reporting that can be drilled down across all the different channels you are using.
What about churn or agent/customer retention?
Reports are also great for identifying customer interaction bottlenecks and reasons for churn:
- Where are your customers getting frustrated?
What do your frustrated customers have in common (e.g. same product category, same communication channel)? Reports can even help you measure agent productivity:
- Are they equally efficient across channels?
- Are they effectively resolving issues or just handing problems over to their colleagues?
Remember: a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits by 95%. Now that is something that is worth considering.
How seamless are your customer service experiences really?
With omnichannel customer service experience, your reporting tool can easily collect data from across all your customer touchpoints and give you a detailed scope of your entire operations.
- What activities are working and not working?
- What are the major trends in your contact center?
- What areas deserve more attention?
- Are measures you are implementing actually working?
Effectively monitor the performance of your agents
Make sure you have the metrics you need to help your agents perform at their best.
Are you able to measure profile statuses like availability, away, lunch, training, etc?
Or activity statuses like active, idle, away?
These are important metrics that can help you see exactly where they’re struggling and which focus areas you should offer them guidance in. Remember, constantly handling and improving your agents is one of the most important tasks as a contact center manager.
Poorly Integrated Solutions Kill The Omnichannel Experience
Without omnichannel, no seamless customer experiences. Without properly integrated solutions, no omnichannel. In other words, make sure your contact center software is up to snuff.
Everything that happens behind the scenes, has a direct and immediate impact on your quality of service. The most important behind-the-scenes aspect of your contact center technology is its ability for third-party integration.
Too often, we hear about contact centers spending millions on software that won’t integrate with their equally expensive CRM or ERP systems.
Fragmented solutions. Also known as agent efficiency’s kryptonite.
Your agents should spend their time resolving issues and making customers happy. When they have to move between multiple solutions, they lose momentum, resulting in more customer frustration and below-average service interactions.
Consequently, you see both customer and agent retention drop to the floor.
The same goes for your analytics or reporting tools. If those technologies aren’t communicating properly with your communication platforms, they’re not collecting all the data they should be collecting.
For contact center managers, poorly integrated solutions are also an incredible source of time-consuming repetitive tasks.
Ever been stuck trying to drill down some statistics by meticulously pulling out numbers from seven different applications?
Or tried to make sense of why two systems are reporting vastly different numbers?
Conclusion: With a properly integrated system, you will save time, streamline your activities, reduce costs, and watch your agent productivity skyrocket!
AI Is Your Agents’ Friend, Not Their Enemy
If you want to play an active role in the transition to a more tech-driven customer service, you need to empower your agents with AI – and have the workplace properly embrace the benefits of giving the deep learning machines a warm welcome.
Use reports to identify exactly where self-service technologies are best implemented, and where the human touch is still needed. Trust us, one single report can save you a boatload of unnecessary agent training or ineffective automated solutions.
After gaining all the insights you need from reports, you’re ready to make a data-driven decision on where AI can have the biggest positive impact in your contact center. AI-powered technology can relieve your contact center of spending time on repetitive tasks or assist your human agents with suggestions based on lightning- fast evaluations of customer history.
AI and automation can also be used to track customer journeys more effectively and proactively engage with your customers, with things like chatbot solutions, leading to self-service, increased conversion, and sales.
Let your human agents focus on solving the more complex interactions, while AI streamlines inquiries, routes cases more effectively to the right agent, and extracts just the information you need to make sure customers are getting the right quality of service.
“AI is sometimes incorrectly framed as machines replacing humans. It’s not about machines replacing humans, but machines augmenting humans. Humans and machines have different relative strengths and weaknesses, and it’s about the combination of these two that will allow human intents and business processes to scale 10x, 100x, and beyond that in the coming year”
– Robin Bordoli
TOP 3 THINGS TO REMEMBER
#1 – Embrace the omnichannel experience
When one bad experience is enough to drive customers away, you need to accept how omnichannel customer service is the only option you’re left with. Act accordingly and create seamless customer interactions across touchpoints.
#2 – Reports are your gold!
Any successful business knows that gold is hidden somewhere deep within their systems and customer interactions. If you know what’s good for you, invest in an analytics tool that can extract that precious data for you and tell you where there’s room for improvements.
#3 – Empower your agents with AI
There are two truths with customer service in 2022: When people have a “real” problem, they want to talk to another human being. When they don’t, they want to solve their issues themselves.
By offering your customers self-service technology (where you know it’s effective), you are also freeing up the much-needed time for your agents to become the empathetic and effective superagents they deserve to be.
This post was first published on the Omnicus blog.