Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO
Customer expectations are growing; companies can’t sit back and deliver the same service they used to – with the increasing dominance of mobile communication, the pressure is on your company to provide the customer with what they want, now. It’s tempting to throw all your resources into making sure this happens, but unless you consider whether or not the service you’re providing is efficient and productive, you could be hindering your company’s progress. Streamlining communication channels is a means of optimising what you have on offer and how you offer it.
Is it being used?
Take a look at all your channel options – phone, text, email, social media – perhaps chat or online, too. Depending on the products and services you have on offer, you may be losing valuable information if these channels aren’t working together. While big businesses are rolling out exciting new apps to help them interact with customers, these apps may be a distraction from your core business. For example, if 60% of your customer interactions are by phone and 38% via email, is it worth investing in apps to provide another means for the customer to contact you, especially if the two channels listed can effectively deal with all of the touch points already?
Are you able to access information?
Simply having the channels active does not translate to effective information management. Let’s say your social media inquiries are handled via your marketing department or an external agency – have you ensured that all the information from those interactions is being shared with your customer care team working with voice and email options? The data provided by interactions can provide fantastic information that can aid in customer profiling and segmentation, as well as sales campaigns, but if all of the information provided by social media is kept in a vacuum, this won’t be used intelligently, or effectively.
In this case, your customer could get in touch via Facebook and expect an email response, but the breakdown of communication between channels means that they never receive the email. Then, when they phone to complain, your customer service agents may be forced to admit that they can’t see any record of any contact taking place. That’s a red flag for the customer that suggests that you don’t take their business seriously. Ensuring that all information from all channels feeds through to the agents as required will help you to produce faster, more personalised service.
Cut unnecessary processes
How many hoops must your customer jump through to get to the resolution they’re looking for? You may be able to cut down on the amount of time it takes by reducing some of the processes. Automation can aid with this – by pre-identifying customers using known information (such as their phone number), intelligent call routing can be used to direct them to the relevant department immediately as well as the agent best-placed to assist. This reduces time spent on calls, the biggest cost factor in a contact centre environment.
Again, when it comes to processes, is there a relatively seamless way for you to assist the customer through the customer journey? In some businesses, it’s necessary to have many processes such as identity verification, product information and contract signing and payment. These may require multiple contacts. Is it possible to reduce the number of contacts it takes to get the customer to where they want to be? Are there any areas where the communication can break down?
If you’re working towards an omni-channel solution, one that seamlessly delivers service across channels, you’re dealing with all three of these challenges. Essentially, that means you’re centralising your data in a way that can provide a more seamless approach to customer service as well as valuable insights into how your customers work. The information you need to provide great service will be easier to find, store and use in your planning for campaigns. The customer will have a much-improved experience, too, as they won’t have to go through as many touch points to get what they want.
The customer intelligence provided by the data insights will allow you to provide more personalised service that says to your customer, “we know what you want, when you want it and how you want it. We value your business with us.” That’s the kind of expectation today’s customers have from companies, and streamlining your channels is a surefire means of achieving the kind of service they want.
Remember, your customer’s behaviour and expectations are constantly evolving, it’s essential to keep apace of that to remain relevant in a competitive environment.