Fix these problems and obtain huge results.
There is a great deal of talk today about developing the customer experience. However, less frequently are concrete proposals put forth to improve the customer experience. The customer experience is formed in the customer interface – in other words, in situations where the company meets the customer. Customer service situations are among the most important touchpoints in the formation of the customer experience. Devoting resources to the customer interface is the only way to create an excellent customer experience. This philosophy is reflected in the phrase first formulated by HCL Technologies: “Employee First, Customer Second.”
If a customer service organization seeks to create a truly excellent customer experience, the only way to achieve it is via the efforts of customer service agents. When a company provides its customer service agents with excellent tools, enabling them to use such tools in genuinely functional circumstances – the target being high-quality customer service – the customer experience will unavoidably improve.
However, the provision of truly excellent customer service is often hampered by major obstacles. This blog post provides solutions to three important problems. Remedying these problems will significantly improve the customer experience. This will also improve the working conditions, enabling the entire organization to work in a more effective way.
1. Customer-related information is scattered across a number of repositories
The scattered nature of customer and customer contact information, including customers’ purchase histories, gives rise to a great number of problems, leading to a negative impact on the customer experience and hampering the efficiency of customer service. Inefficiency frustrates both the customer and the customer service agent. Such problems include:
- The quality of customer service suffers the customer service has no customer information available for customer recognition purposes.
- Customers become frustrated as they are compelled to introduce themselves and present their problem every time they contact the customer service.
- Customers are treated as a mass, not as individuals.
- Customer information is difficult, if not impossible, to put to efficient use in targeted campaigns to achieve additional sales.
- The quality of customer service deteriorates and its speed slows down as the agents spend their time on collecting information from a variety of sources.
- The result is a series of unclear and conflicting situations as nobody knows what has been agreed with individual customers.
Solution: Combine the information about a customer, along with this customer’s contacts and purchase history, to form a single view that is automatically displayed to the customer service agent when the customer contacts customer services. Link the customer’s contact information to the various customer service channels to enable easy customer recognition.
2. The customer service agent’s work includes a great number of repetitive manual work phases
Customer service includes a great number of manual work phases, ranging from opening e-mail messages to viewing various databases, and comparing them with each other. Some manual work phases are common to all customer service staff, while others are always specific to a particular company. Such work phases have in common the fact that their completion requires a great deal of time. Manual work phases cause a variety of consequences, including:
- Inefficiency and susceptibility to error: slow and repetitive manual work phases are iterated in a short cycle. The manual aspect of the work also contributes to susceptibility to error by the agent. This becomes costly.
- Poor productivity: difficult work phases slow down the orientation of new employees, causing them to be less productive.
- Employee dissatisfaction: manual and hard-to-use tools are prone to causing employee dissatisfaction, which may manifest itself as high employee turnover.
- The quality of customer service deteriorates and the speed of service slows down. If the customer service agents are constantly faced with service situations and wrap-up work that require extra work in order to be completed, the result is slow service and generally poor service availability.
Solution: Identify all repetitive and inefficient work phases, and automate them so that they support the customer service agent’s work. For example, contacts streaming in from the various channels can be automatically routed to a customer service agent for processing. This will significantly speed up the processing of e-mail messages, as well as that of forms embedded in websites, or Facebook messages. The time thus freed can be dedicated to more useful activities, such as increasing sales, building customer loyalty, and improving many other aspects of customer communication.
3. Lack of an overall picture of the status of work at customer services, at any given time
How many contacts are streaming in, and from what channel are they coming? Which customer service agents are working on which channels? Who is taking a break? If an overall picture is hard to piece together, the objectives of service provision will be harder to meet, and the working atmosphere and service quality will suffer in consequence. The negative results will be the following:
- Managers will have trouble managing customer service resources. It will be impossible to see in real time which channels are being processed and how many contacts have been received from each channel.
- Managers will have trouble reacting, with sufficient speed, to the situations with which they are faced, as they are unable to see which agents are free, which ones are processing e-mail messages, and which ones are engaged in wrap-up work. As a consequence, the real-time management of customer service will become more difficult.
- Customer service agents, for example, have no way of knowing when it is a good moment to take a break, as they are unable to see who is working and who is taking a break.
- Uncertainty about the other agents’ work status may cause employees to watch each other’s behavior. This will have a detrimental effect on the working atmosphere, which is easily reflected in the quality of customer service.
Solution: Display each agent’s status information in the user interface that the agents use, showing which agents are processing which channels, which agents are free, and which agents are engaged in wrap-up work. Employees will stop watching over each other, as it becomes unnecessary. It will also be possible to display the number of unprocessed contacts waiting for processing in the various channels, along with the number of contacts being processed. Spacing out breaks will also be easier if the overall situation regarding work and resources is known. A clear overall picture and a better working atmosphere will be reflected in the quality of customer service.
Developing the customer service agent’s tools along lines that authentically support work, as well as remedying the problems hampering the customer service agents’ work will bring about a great number of advantages and excellent results, including:
- The customer will receive improved service and an enhanced customer experience.
- The customer service agent’s job satisfaction will improve, bringing with it significantly increased efficiency.
- The management of customer service will be facilitated with the introduction of tools that support overall management.
- The development of customer service will be further facilitated via the use of tools that support development and by means of time – made available through the elimination of routine work – that can now be dedicated to development activities.
- Due to improved service, the company will obtain loyal customers, improve sales and profitability.
Waste no time – start developing your customer experience and customer service today. Make the work of your customer service agent easier – and your customers, customer service agents and management will be grateful.
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