Five Ways Digital Can Turn Good Intentions into Good Service

Every company has the best of intentions when it comes to customer service, but how many truly succeed? How many times in your day-to-day life are you left miffed by lack of service, lack of awareness or lack of common sense exhibited by a company who wants—or worse yet— already has your business?

In today’s increasingly digital age, the culprit for most companies with failing customer service is consistency. Their dated systems are simply unable to deliver consistent experiences across all channels.

In fact, according to a recent Accenture report, only one in 10 consumers strongly agree that companies are effectively converging interactions across digital, social, mobile and traditional channels. Not surprisingly, this lack of consistency is costing companies millions, as more than half (52%) of Canadians surveyed said they are considering moving away from one provider of products and services in order to try a competitor.

So, how can your business turn good intentions into really good service? Here are five tips to replace your sluggish systems with a truly digital experience that provides incredible customer experiences at every turn.

Understand your customers’ preferences

Ultimately, the goal is to understand customers, give them the experiences they want and keep those experiences consistent across all touch points. A natural first step is to figure out your customers’ preferences. How do they prefer communicating? What are their expectations and needs around operating hours? How willing are they to self-serve? What emerging technologies are starting to become more important to them?

This treasure trove of information can be put to good use ensuring that optimum customer journeys are aligned to workflows. Involve your IT team at an early stage and outline the value and purpose of your technology solution. Plan for CRM system integration and allow the team to evaluate whether any changes to underlying infrastructure are necessary.

Prepare for the full scope of digital channels

According to Forrester, customers are increasingly leveraging self-service and digital communication channels (social, web chat, email, SMS, etc.) for customer service because these channels offer “minimal interaction friction.”

With the use of these channels on the rise, it’s important to identify which ones are most essential to your business based on your target demographic and the nature of your customer relationships. You then need to leverage a modular approach that lets you scale up and out over time, and plug in specific capabilities where applicable. With mobile apps being the fastest growing digital channel today, make sure you’re in a position to take advantage.

Automate common inquires with self-service capabilities

Offering customers self-service is no longer just a cost reduction tactic. With 70 per cent of today’s consumers reporting that they’re comfortable using digital self-service, it’s a bonafide customer experience strategy.

With modern digital customer experience tools, self-service is also no longer restricted to voice interactions. You need to analyze frequently asked questions, simple agent transactions (whether through voice, web chat, SMS, etc.) and customer survey responses to decide which processes are the most suitable for automation. Then you need to use digital workflow routing capabilities to provide self-service to customers through email auto-acknowledgements, automated web chat responses and even inbound and outbound SMS inquiries.

Apply effective management and reporting metrics

It’s important to remember that customers view services holistically and not through the lens of individual interactions or touchpoints. In a recent McKinsey article, one media company was left confounded when customers were leaving at an alarming rate despite satisfaction scores consistently being over 90 per cent per interaction. After a closer look, however, the company found that while customers weren’t fed up with any particular call, email or field visit, their cumulative experience was extremely low with customer satisfaction falling almost 40 percent across the entire journey.

That’s why it’s essential to “join the dots” at the management and agent level by leveraging feature-rich, real-time management and reporting tools that can provide insights on scheduling, agent metrics and campaign performance. By combining the power of multiple management applications, such as quality monitoring, call recording, outbound dialing and campaign management, you’ll be able to maintain constant business and operational visibility over the customer experience you provide.

Empower your agents

Deploy state-of-the-art tools that enable employees to work efficiently and flexibly. This includes selecting the right phone solution for seamless integration with remote agents, CRM, chat/presence engines and other business processes. You’ll also want to define unified communications capabilities to ensure customer queries can be resolved the first time by empowering agents to instantly locate, message or conference-in subject matter experts to obtain immediate answers.

When the topic of customer service comes up, it’s an all too common cliché to say “you’re only as good as your people,” but the hard truth is, your people are no good without great technology. There’s simply too much information to track and too many channels to monitor.

Hiring someone with a friendly phone disposition simply doesn’t cut it in 2016. You need cutting-edge tools to deliver the kind of top notch service that drives repeat business and steals customers from your competition. Otherwise, all you’re left with are good intentions and broken promises.

Brian Spencer is the general manager of Mitel’s Contact Center.