Guest Blog by Stuart Discount, CEO/Founder of Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE)
To celebrate the launch of our first-ever EBook: The Customer Experience Guide for Today’s Contact Center, we are excited to present with you a guest blog from the Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE). CH Consulting Group is a PROUD PACE member and our very own Christa Heibel serves PACE as Vice Chair and Marketing Chair. For more information on membership and benefits, please feel free to reach out Christa.
Customer Experience for Today’s Contact Center
At PACE, we understand that there are a number of challenges that contact centers face on a daily basis. They are tasked with offering superior customer experiences at all stages of the customer journey in order to ensure satisfaction with the brand. Today, more than ever, customers expect quality assistance in a professional and timely manner when they reach out to a company’s center. In many industries, the customer service team is relied on as the primary point of contact after a sale. This responsibility often comes with expectations for retention and upsells. Combine all of that with the ever-present pressure to reduce costs and it’s no wonder stress levels among customer service teams are high.
PACE recently conducted an informal survey among its members and the number one challenge many face is consistency. From messaging to processes to platforms being used – managing and maintaining consistency across all channels is hard to do. This not only poses a problem externally, but to the internal structure which contributes to high turnover rates.
While there is no magic bullet to solve all of the challenges presented to contact centers, offering a consistent customer (internal and external) service experience can help to ease some of the pressure. Giving customers a seamless experience with your brand, no matter how they reach out, can aid in customer satisfaction and quality, thus leading to happier customers. Happy customers mean less volume for customer service channels, which means a lower cost to resolve issues. In turn, this impacts the attitude of the workforce.
Below are some ways you can provide a consistent customer experience across all of your channels:
Communication in the contact center world is more than just answering the phone. There are several key elements to consider.
With your customers:
- Respond quickly, even if it’s an automated response to give peace of mind that the customer’s contact to you has been received and is being managed.
- Offer multiple ways to reach out based on your customer’s preferences.
- Monitor your social channels and respond to customers there. A negative comment can actually create brand advocates if handled appropriately. The way you handle an issue on social channels can bring passive observers into the discussion as well as resolve the customer’s problem.
With your employees:
- Don’t silo your sales, marketing and customer service teams. Give them opportunities to meet and collaborate, share experiences. Together they are more likely to find solutions to common problems and aid the company in a better customer experience.
- Engage C-suite executives in the customer service process to champion the cause. Get their help in clearly communicating the company’s expectations to all employees. They set the tone to let all employees know how valued their customers are and their expectations that those customer’s concerns be handled promptly and with respect.
Create educated, informed agents
Offer consistent experience for your customers regardless of which call center employee they speak with at any given point in their customer journey. Ensure you are providing consistent, quality education and resources to your customer service teams. This allows them to offer a consistent experience with your entire company and helps the customer to receive the answers they need, delivered in a polite, effective manner.
No one likes to explain their problems over and over. It’s frustrating, uncomfortable and you create an added stress that can result in a larger problem. Offering centralized records for your customer service team can help eliminate the need for clients to re-explain.
In addition, offering a call back service or extended service hours can create an experience that better fits the customer’s life, and shows that the company understands that their time is valuable.
Truth in advertising
Make sure your marketing aligns with your true offerings. It’s important that the marketing and sales team is working closely with the rest of the company. When claims are made about a product or service they need to hold up to the hype. Simply put, don’t make promises you can’t keep about pricing, service, hold times, etc. This will only create a headache for the customer service team and ultimately damage your brand.
Learn from your data
Keep track of customer’s complaints via your communications channels and then bring them to the attention of internal stakeholders and work together to resolve the frequent offenders. Some of the easiest fixes go unresolved because no one is tracking the simple solution and documenting it for permanent correction.
This follow up can happen via automated system with a short email survey or in a more individualized manner. Encourage your managers to follow up with a select number of customers who have had contact with the company. This demonstrates that the company values feedback, consistency and listens to its customers.
There are additional benefits to creating a consistent customer experience:
- It’s cheaper to resolve a problem quickly, or proactively. When your contact center can effectively track and identify issues, this possibility becomes a reality.
- Happy customers make great brand champions and that can lead to more sales and more customers. Positive mentions and organic engagement means that your company name is reaping the benefit of your consistent customer service.
- When your company’s customer services team is available and engaging via multiple channels, that’s a marketing win. Entire advertising campaigns can be created around, “We are customer-centric”.
Customers want to connect with your brand. Consistency among omni-channel solutions is key. If your contact center is struggling with consistency or if you are looking for best practices in managing and maintaining your contact center communications and operations, PACE can help!
PACE is dedicated to the success of its members and our members are dedicated to helping each other thrive in the marketplace. If you would like more information on how PACE can help your contact center rise above the rest, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.