Last month I attended an event in Las Vegas with close to 300 Customer Service Professionals to learn and exchange information about “The Modern Customer Experience”. As I listened to the guest speakers from some very large companies with household names share their service strategy for the next two or three years, it became clear that the landscape has changed.
So before I dive into the 5 hot trends to accelerate CX, let me break down for you how this landscape is different.
“Age of the Customer” Hype or reality?
With as much emphasis I can convey in writing, the answer is, it’s REALITY! I can go into a long list of reasons, but something tells me you already know why it’s a reality. E-commerce, Social Media, Gen Y…the list goes on and on. Most companies’ service strategy fits into one of three categories.
We have a great product and we service it well
- We have a great product and we have equally great customer service
- We have acclaimed service and a great product
In my honest opinion, organizations who are not spending equal time and budget on service, their products and company will ultimately fail. I came up in the ranks of Customer Service when service was that crazy group of people who took customer calls. We were almost looked down upon by other departments. Now flash forward to 2015 and see what other departments think of Service now. I hear a lot of my peers in Customer Service talk about “Voice of the customer” and how they now have the data and feedback to be the voice of the customer within their organization. Until last week I would agree with that, but when I heard Becky Ploeger, from Kohl’s Corporation say “being the voice of the customer is not good enough anymore, you need a seat at the table” I could not have agreed more. What seat is she talking about? The seat in front of the CEO, CFO, COO, CIO. Expressing the voice of the customer is not going to be enough, you need to be heard with ideas of how to make the customer experience frictionless and memorable and have the authority to make real change. The C-Level needs to put just as much effort and thought leadership into serving their products as they do in Marketing, Distribution and so on.
Denis Pombriant, author of Solve for the Customer, stated “the majority of opinion is that ‘customer experience’ is a noun. It is something you create for the customer, for me, ‘experience’ is also a verb, because customers experience moments of truth. A customer experience becomes a noun only when the moment of truth is over, and the vendor either has performed well or not. Then a customer experience is rightfully a memory.” I think he hit the nail on the head.
So what are we supposed to do with these insights?
Here are 5 hot trends to accelerate CX in your contact center in 2015:
1. Put in place Customer Experience revenue models
Does your company use models to evaluate Customer Experience drivers? Do the models show how Customer Experience affects business outcomes? Only 63% of companies say they create models to assess the drivers of Customer Experience quality. If you get that seat at the table I spoke of, be ready to demonstrate direct links between Customer Experience and revenue.
2. Ensure you have unification of engagement channels for customer to interact with your company
I see lots of companies who say “we’re thinking about adding Chat as a channel”. While that’s great that it’s on the roadmap, your competitors are already doing it. Your customers should be able to reach you via Voice Calls, Web Self-Service, Chat, Email, SMS, Social, and by the way, these should all be mobile enabled. If your customers are chatting with an agent and find that it’s not helping and pick up the phone and call in, the phone agent should really be able to pick up where the chat left off. The agents should have all the history of customer interactions regardless of the channel the customer used.
3. Design Customer Experience from outside in
How often have you found yourself in meetings where ideas are being discussed about how to improve service? If you continue to design experience from within the company and then roll it out to customers, you’re on the wrong path. Customer Experience should be designed from the customer’s point of view looking inward to the company. Journey Mapping is a great place to start, but get customers involved in the design process.
4. Create frictionless interactions with your customers
A recent study found that “for 77% of Customers, valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service”. Your service strategy should focus on four things:
- Pain Free
The customers of today, and certainly tomorrow and beyond, expect you to know when to engage them. Then when you do, what channel they prefer to engage with. Personalize, personalize and personalize. Regardless whether it’s email, chat or voice, they expect you to know certain things about them. Did they call before about the same issue? What services or products have they recently purchased?
5. Empower employees to better serve your customers
Is Customer Service in your company’s DNA? If your answer no, but we’re getting there, that’s an honest answer. The biggest complaint I hear from customers is “the agent was great, but they still couldn’t help me, so I asked for a supervisor”. Empowering your front-line agents is not just as simple as giving them authority to say “Yes”, it’s more complex than that. 74% of contact center managers say agents can impact the satisfaction of the customer, yet 93% of those same managers state that the technology (or lack thereof) is a hindrance to the agents providing a positive experience for the customer. Empowerment goes deeper than just training the agents to know when they have the authority to give a refund. Your agents should know everything about the products, have the best software, the best computer, the best headset in the company. Give them all the tools they need to make the customer interaction seamless, easy, quick and consistent every time.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can accelerate Customer Experience in your contact center this year and beyond, drop us a line. We’re here to help you achieve and exceed your center’s 2015 goals!