The world just seems to move faster every year, so it is no wonder that many of us yearn for simpler times. This certainly is the case when it comes to customer service. I’ve had so many frustrating experiences while interacting with companies and their contact centers over the past several years, that when I have a enjoyable one, offering high-touch, high-value services, I’m pleasantly surprised.
According to David Jodoin, the Chief Technology Officer for collaboration software vendor CaféX, trying to deliver this kind of exceptional service is why so many businesses are focused on improving Customer Experience Management, or CEM. “Thirty years ago, if you were going to buy life insurance for example, a rep would come to your house and you’d sit around the kitchen table and discuss all the pros and cons of a solution while looking at different options. You knew you could always count on this type of high-touch customer service if you had a question or a problem in the future. That is not always the case in our e-commerce driven, fast-paced modern economy. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still looking for that kitchen table feeling.”
In a recent podcast interview with Jodoin, we discussed what businesses need to take into consideration and the types of technology they are putting in place to ensure that customers feel like they are getting that type of service in every situation. Take a listen to the entire interview here.
Moving Customer Service Beyond the Contact Center
Here at The UC Buyer we’ve covered the importance of creating a true omni-channel contact experience in which every interaction is visible to each person who might come in contact with a customer, regardless of the channel in which the interaction takes place. This cohesive approach to customer care is key to not only meeting, but exceeding customer expectations, says Jodoin. “Collaboration is core to every business, including collaboration with customers. Leading companies are realizing that customer service must become a key tenet of their brand and that every employee is a customer service agent to some degree.”
This means that service will move beyond the contact center agents and may bring in employees or even external constituents who have the expertise necessary to solve a customer’s problems. Customers want to solve their problems quickly and want to feel like they have an advocate on their side. Jodoin shared a story in which, using CaféX’s video collaboration technology, a contact center rep for an insurance company acting as a customer advocate was able to connect the customer with a claims adjustor and even bring in the body shop at the same time to solve the problem quickly by connecting all key stakeholders. “Being able to break down barriers can lead to vastly increased first call resolution and happier customers,” says Jodoin.
Making Mobile a Cohesive Part of the Solution
With so many businesses publishing their own mobile apps, we may all be facing a bit of ‘app fatigue’. This can be especially true when businesses publish multiple apps to handle different functions (which one should I use?), or alternatively when they put every type of functionality from their website in a single app and it becomes overly complex. According to Jodoin, the best business apps are designed to provide customers with the ability to solve problems when they are in a time of need. For example, hopping on the app to let your bank know that you lost your credit card. Leading companies are taking this a step further and starting to leverage WebRTC to put direct connections to customer service within their apps so that customers can ‘chat’ or ‘talk’ with the company and escalate their interaction with a simple click.
In this instance, passing along the context of the customer’s mobile experience to the customer service agent is key. “If a customer is using a mobile application and realizes she needs to escalate the interaction to talk with an agent, the last thing she wants to do is spend 10 minutes bringing that person up to speed on what she is trying to accomplish. By passing along information directly from the app about who the customer is, their history and what the customer has been trying to do, this interaction becomes seamless for the customer and the agent resulting in vastly better outcomes.” Jodoin shares a story about a large financial industry customer that found that first call resolution leveraging this approach went from 64% to 88% and the net promoter score went to the highest levels they had ever seen.
Hands-on, Persistent Service Becomes the New Gold Standard
As customers focus more intently on improving the customer experience, many are moving from a transaction-based service model to an outcome-based approach. This means figuring out ways to successfully solve problems quickly. “Going back to that kitchen table story, one thing those reps had going for them was they could glance over to see what the customer was working on and having trouble with,” said Jodoin. “Replicating that capability with single-click co-browsing functionality is gaining a tremendous amount of traction in the market right now. If the agent can jump in to quickly help you complete a transaction with your favorite retailer, or troubleshoot a technical problem, your likelihood of continuing as a happy customer goes way up.”
Another area that businesses are showing a lot of interest in is ‘outcome-based team collaboration spaces’. These are essentially persistent virtual meeting rooms that agents can set up to manage interactions in a centralized fashion, bringing together all the capabilities necessary to solve a problem: Virtual meeting rooms create a space that can be used for collaboration with the customer, the agent and any additional stakeholders necessary to help solve the customer’s problem; the tools to collaborate and share information in that space, like co-browsing, video collaboration, chat and history for instance, and; the ability to share content, documents and context relevant to the situation. By delivering all this in one place and then having this become part of the customer record, the company not only increases the potential of positive outcomes, but positions themselves to handle future issues more quickly and easily.
Collaborative online systems are already adding hours back into people’s lives and delivering an easier journey to a defined outcome.
And isn’t that what we’re all looking for?