Still trying to compete on products or pricing? Unfortunately, this strategy offers diminishing returns in the age of heightened consumer knowledge. At their fingertips, customers have access to unlimited amounts of product and pricing information and can easily make their decision based on these highly comparable facts. However, there’s more to the story. Increasingly, customers expect something else. They want to feel a sense of satisfaction from their experience and will choose the brands that make them feel special and appreciated. Although, the Internet has made it more difficult to compete on some fronts, it has opened up a new opportunity. Providing a fantastic customer experience is now what sets brands apart. Those businesses that can accomplish this have the most powerful competitive differentiator today. But, how can your business make this happen when self-service is increasingly used, and customers are less likely to be brand loyal? It begins with ensuring a fast, hassle-free, experience.
- Hire the Right People
Hire for attitude and train for skills is an old call center maxim that still rings true. The attitudes of your team are incredibly important when you want to be a service leader. Individuals who are hired for a positive, can-do attitude, even if they’re lacking in a specific job skill, have far more potential than those who are uninspired or lack motivation. Service agents are your frontline. Hire wisely and train effectively.
- Make Your Team Happy
Contact center staff churn is a costly and service-impacting problem. Maintaining your staff is essential to supporting a quality customer experience. Simply put, happy employees aren’t out looking for the next opportunity. Thus, ongoing effort and creativity should be put into developing programs that support employees now and as they continue on their career journey.
- Listen to Your Agents
Agents understand customers perhaps more than anyone else in a company. They’re communicating with both satisfied and dissatisfied customers each and every day about orders, returns, product quality, and processes. Take advantage of their deep understanding by having an open door for suggestions and complaints. Also, hold regular team meetings where agents can be encouraged to share their suggestions. Even a simple change in a process can result in a positive impact to the bottom line.
- Listen to Your Customers
Like with agents, you can also gain valuable information from your customers. Regularly listen to and evaluate customer phone calls. Consider investing in a speech analytics tool to drill down deeper into data that can help you optimize your workforce and processes.
- Welcome Complaints
While complaints are never fun to receive, they’re a tremendous source of free market research. Ensure that customers can easily lodge complaints and commit to resolving them efficiently and effectively. Then, learn from these mistakes and share this information with the team.
- Streamline Your IVR System
Must your customers patiently listen to a greeting before having to decide upon an IVR prompt. Are the prompts confusing, or do they simply lead customers to the wrong department or even worse – to eternal hold? IVR systems are incredibly useful for routing customers and can serve as a valuable self-service channel. Yet, they can also be a source of frustration and customer churn if they are cumbersome to use or hinder interactions. Place plenty of effort in ensuring your IVR system is streamlined and efficient to prevent losing customers before they even speak with an agent.
- Offer Multiple Communication Channels
More than ever, customers are engaging with businesses via their mobile devices. They want fast, quick access via social media, text or an app. Consider that they may also be using multiple channels simultaneously to resolve issues. Thus, there should be clear, seamless paths from channel to channel.
- Give Agents Access to Context and History
One of the most common customer complaints is having to repeat information. This can be prevented with a solution that provides agents with the context and history of the entire customer journey across each channel. This not only decreases customer frustrations, it also leads to faster call resolutions and greater employee satisfaction.
- Measure Performance
There is an incredible array of metrics available to evaluate the success of your customer service. They may not all be necessary. However, basic measurements such as Net Promoter Score can be beneficial and may help you determine what actions are necessary to make beneficial changes.
- Be Committed from the Top Down
A true dedication to providing an amazing customer experience isn’t a goal just for agents. It requires the commitment from the C-level executives on down. From investing in the right technologies and providing competitive compensation and benefits to having a clear, long-term strategic plan and always focusing on customer loyalty and advocacy, sustaining service quality requires everyone’s effort.