By Josephine Brimble, Principle Application engineer at INOVO
A common frustration for today’s customer is that they know too much. They may not even know that they know too much, however their expectations are high, their preferences are rapidly evolving and companies will almost certainly fall behind in providing the kind of service customers expect if they do not stay one step ahead of the curve.
Exceptional service should be the norm, however it remains at large in most organisations. The misconception in the delivery and management of exceptional service is that it is solely systems-based and infrastructure dependent. While this is an integral part of customer service, success does not hinge upon it. It is rather the application of strategically-sound business decisions that is required to revolutionise customer service as we know it. They say that you shouldn’t take a knife to a gunfight, but I prefer to compare business goals in more competitive terms: you shouldn’t take a horse to compete in a Formula1 race.
Rockets, race cars and real service delivery
A race is best run with a strategy, one that allows for organisation-wide focus. It’s easy to get distracted with the latest, shiny ideas, but these can take you away from examining what your customer expects, wants, needs and prefers, and how to deliver on those expectations in the right way. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a fascinating topic for discussion, but, in the contact centre environment, the adoption and application of AI products is still in its infancy. Certainly, there are specialists experimenting at the cutting edge of this field, but it shouldn’t necessarily be your primary focus unless it is the best choice to deliver on both business requirements and customer needs. In this case, you’re the one with the F1 car – so don’t daydream about hyperspace travel in a rocket.
Successful business strategy is about three key things: understanding and managing what exists, exploring and improving the existing setup (where necessary), and strategically building onto what you have in order to fulfil your customer service expectations more effectively and efficiently.
As a starting point, let’s take a look at what businesses already have to work with: data. Millions upon millions of snippets of information. As an organisation, do you have a system in place that makes the best use of that data? Is this data being used to tell you who your customer is and how to make the most out of multi-channel interactions with them? Data analytics is never a finite process, you can constantly use the information you have in new and improved ways – particularly since it is so dynamic. The primary goal is always to deliver better service in personalised ways to show your customer that your organisation/brand understands and knows them and is always willing to help fulfil their needs.
Let’s take a look at a few key practical examples:
In a multi-channel contact centre environment, your target audience must be well defined and understood. Their preferences are key and business strategies should be defined with these in mind – whether voice, SMS, email or chat are the communication channels of choice. Understanding customer preference allows greater agility in how you interact.
In a primarily inbound focused contact centre, when dealing with customer service (i.e. after-sale support or complaints), the pre-identification of customers is key to ensuring a personalised interaction. This information can be leveraged to make key decisions on how and to whom the routing of Inbound contacts is managed. Every customer is an integral part of the business and when treated in the right way, this can change the entire customer’s attitude and approach to a company.
If you’re using your customer information optimally, you’re pre-empting your customer while aligning the business strategically, so you’re in a far better position to deliver on what they want, when they want it (perhaps even before they know they want it) and how they want it. That kind of pro-active business strategy allows you to stay ahead of your competitors, ensuring the longevity of your business and loyalty of your customers.