Contact Centers Adapt to the Next-Generation of Customer Experience
Bad customer experiences are no longer kept between the customer service phone representative and the customer. Instead, they are being publicized via social networking sites. For this reason, brands have forced customer service teams to evolve their business models from cost focused, to value added, and most recently customer experience fixated. Customer Service has officially become part of the Brand Experience
Evolving Expectations – Customers now “call” the shots. -There was a time when companies told customers how and when they could contact them. Now thanks to social media channels, customers are “calling” the shots. The consumer affairs industry has discovered in today’s multi-tasking, multi-device world, customers want to resolve their issues on the go, via their mobile or tablet device, and in between text messages. Recognizing this need, customer service teams have evolved their support channels to include digital media such as online communities, video chat, and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.
In addition, the industry is seeing a larger percentage of customers refusing to wait on hold or even pick up the phone to receive customer support. Instead, consumers are turning to a company’s Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube page to get the answers they’re looking for. If the brand doesn’t answer them directly, there are other customers that will. The frightening part is sometimes the consumer-to-consumer responses will be accurate, but other times customers end up sharing incorrect information. This issue has forced customer service teams to monitor their company’s social sites 24/7/365 in search of consumer questions, issues, and complaints.
Lastly, another evolution that has taken place within the consumer affairs industry is with our newest customer — Generation Y and the Millennials. If these generations view your customer service as too slow or time consuming; they will find something else…and fast. Armed with their smart phones, this group won’t think twice about Googling your competition and purchasing directly from them if they feel they’ve had a bad customer experience. Customer loyalty only exists within this consumer base if they feel a brand provided them with the very best customer experience.
Call Center…Contact Center… or Engagement Center? - Our industry has evolved over the years from the telephone as the only option for customer support into a multi-channel contact center. However, it won’t stop there. Once again, we’re seeing the customer service industry evolve to become a centralize engagement center, working cross-functionally with both marketing and sales. Customer service has officially become part of the brand experience.
In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of marketing departments reaching out to customer service for help with social media. They’ve discovered “talking with” customers is a lot harder than “talking at” customers like they’re used to when leveraging traditional channels such as radio, billboards, and television. In addition, marketing has realized the job of monitoring social 24/7 is very tedious, not something they would prefer to be tasked with. So, working side-by-side, marketing and customer service have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to social media.
Customer Satisfaction… or Customer Loyalty? - In today’s “reputation economy” C-SAT is a metric of the past and loyalty has become everything! It’s just not enough to make sure a customer is satisfied. Satisfaction means mediocre. Instead, customer service teams need to make sure the customer is WOWed with each interaction. WOW means off the charts remarkable! At the end of the day, WOW experiences become memorable and story-worthy, thus turning into online word of mouth referrals. These referrals are perceived as more credible and trustworthy by peers in comparison to a TV advertisement. The key takeaway from this point is in the coming decade we will start seeing more contact centers empowering its employees to deliver extraordinary customer experiences and thus creating loyal customers for life.
Contact Avoidance…or Conversations of Future Value?
One of the most fundamental changes in adapting to the next generation of customer experience is the shift from contact avoidance to conversations of future value. In the past, many contact centers were under pressure to figure out ways to cut cost, decrease call center volume, and shorten phone calls. Sadly our industry started implementing tricks such as hiding the 800 number on a company’s website, leveraging non-personal automated IVRs, or directing customers to seek help online before talking to a representative. Fortunately, executive teams at many contact centers are starting to realize the importance of maximizing each customer engagement to capture new consumer feedback, referrals, or even social profile data. Our phone calls are also dedicated to building loyalty, cross or up-selling complementary products or services, and most importantly deepening relationships by personalizing the conversation. All of this progress has been made through the help of advanced CRM systems which do a great job capturing the average lifetime value of a customer – a metric that was traditionally not measured via contact centers. Customer service has become the new key driver for customer-centric organizations and the main driver for amplifying the voice of the customer throughout the rest of the organization.