Since the beginning of time, when the contact centre became the front line of customer interaction, it is has been considered a cost centre and operational necessity, rather than a strategic resource.
“The old-school view of the contact centre is that of transaction handler, whether that transaction is buying a product such as airline tickets, providing a service such as checking credit card balances or simply serving as a gatekeeper to deal with unhappy customers” says Beth Stackpole in Contact Center Strives for Strategic Role.
No longer. Things have changed.
Contact centres are now a valuable strategic asset
Contact Centres have emerged to become a key component and valuable asset of the new marketing differentiator – Customer Experience. In fact Gartner predicts that by 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.
This differentiator has spawned a new discipline known as customer experience management (CEM). CEM is defined by Gartner as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
It’s all about building good relationships, which is why the Contact Centre has moved from the operational backwater to become the linchpin of customer experience management and a valuable strategic asset.
Implementing a customer centric culture
However turning an existing company into one that consistently delights its customers isn’t easy. It takes vision, a change in focus for many departments, and total commitment from all.
Hence the emergence of a relatively new C Suite position – the CXO – or Chief Experience Officer (sometimes called a Chief Customer Officer). This is a role which has only been around for the last two years, and is rapidly gaining popularity across the globe.
The CXO is primarily responsible for creating a company-wide customer centric culture, and establishing metrics for defining customer relationships. The scope of the role can include designing, orchestrating, and improving customer experiences across all touchpoints including sales, customer service, social media, billing, technical support, contact centres, operations and so on.
Not an easy task, but one which done well, with the full support of all departments and the insights available from accurate metrics, can lead to new opportunities, new markets, and or increased revenue.
Consistency is the key
There’s more to Customer Experience Management than measuring customer satisfaction with the product or service or interactions with sales or customer service people.
Research by Rawson, Duncan, and Jones found that customers do not care about singular touch points across the customer journey. Instead, they care about their cumulative experience across multiple touch points and channels over time.
Customer satisfaction comes from consistency. Three types of consistency as it happens, according to the findings of customer-experience survey of some 27,000 American consumers across 14 different industries conducted by Mckinsey.
Customer journey consistency – where we expect to be treated in a consistent way, no matter which communication channel we use –a visit at any branch, or a conversation by phone, chat, social media or email.
Communication consistency – relates to the delivery of the promise. For example if an insurance company runs ads that promise a fast claims process – then the contact centre agents, claims assessors and accounts department need to have strategies, policies and processes in place that make it possible to deliver on that promise. It also means that all forms of communications from every area must be consistent with the promise.
Emotional consistency – positive customer-experience emotions (a feeling of trust) are the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty and correlate directly with customer journey consistency and communication consistency.
Providing input to aid the effective delivery of a consistent customer experience across the organisation is where the contact centre really shines. Agents are the first to hear of problems and it’s their job to try and resolve them. CXOs understand the gold mine of information and opportunities which lay within the coalface of the contact centre as it is here where they will get the real details on issues which are generating frustration and complaints. The smart CXO will introduce a reporting system to track issue metrics across all functional areas to ensure that the same old things don’t keep cropping up and that customer satisfaction is measured across all the touch points.
- Define how you want your customers to feel about your organisation; then develop Customer Experience standards to make it happen.
- Communicate across functions. Build consensus across the organisation for the customer experience strategy. Use customer journey mapping to highlight how customers interact at different touch points. The degree of alignment between (technologies, departments and operations) is important to ensuring a consistent customer experience.
- Engage your staff. Harness people’s natural desire to contribute to a greater cause. Communicate the goals and purpose of your Customer Service Experience Objectives and get suggestions from your employees on what they can do in their role. Participation = buyin.
- Fix your problems. Look at what’s wrong with your existing customer journey. Can you flag complaints for review and analysis, and then implement change to address the issues? You want to make sure that the complaints you get today, aren’t the complaints you get tomorrow.
- Make things easy. Ensure your staff have the equipment and information they need to do their jobs properly. Make things easier for your customers so it’s quick and easy to get help, there’s no long queues, no repeating information over and over again.
Provide the tools for customer experience management
Great strategies, policies, plans and good intent won’t work if your teams are hampered by inadequate tools. Your staff will lose heart and commitment very quickly if technology and information shortcomings make it hard to deliver a great experience.
. . . And none is more important than the technology used by the most valuable strategic asset – the Contact Centre.
Essential technology for your contact centre is a cloud based contact centre solution with features and capabilities such as
- IVR, automatic call distribution, and queue management
- Integration with your CRM or ERP solution to provide instant access to key customer information
- Easy to use self-service options for both landline and mobile phone callers
- Multi-channel functionality to engage with customers how they prefer
- Real time monitoring to manage peak and troughs
- Best in class customisable reporting to provide meaningful business insights
And there’s more. What’s important is to do your research and choose a solution which can be customised to meet your customer experience objectives and operational needs.
Premier Contact Point is a cloud based solution with all these features and capabilities, and more. We customise it to fit the requirements of every customer, because no two companies ever have exactly the same needs.