The following is a guest post by West Corporation, a leader in CX solutions. To learn more about West Corporation, visit their website.
Exceptional customer experiences don’t just happen. They don’t happen when someone finds their favorite movie on cable or gets a good deal on a blender. Those moments excite us, sure. But they’re just touch points in the relationship.
Real customer experience is not defined by a single moment. It’s made up of the person’s view of the total sum of interactions with a brand. The good, the bad and the utterly forgettable.
A top customer experience can’t be found with the flip of a switch. It must be earned. And there are five key customer experience factors to fix to make that happen. These factors already exist in your organization. But with a few tweaks, these customer experience factors will become a source of loyalty and ROI for years to come.
The following is a guest post by Priyanka Tiwari, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Interactions. To learn more about Interactions, visit the company’s website.
Over the last few years, the word ‘omnichannel’ has been used (and overused) to describe a utopia of marketing and customer care. We all have heard and read about how an omnichannel approach solves all customer care issues and allows brands to prove their customer obsession. Then why do brands still pursue a better approach?
The answer is simple: because every brand has defined ‘omnichannel’ using the best of their abilities and technologies at hand. We saw many multichannel or cross-channel solutions being called omnichannel only to be found incapable of delivering what they promised. What we needed was a solution capable of delivering a true omnichannel experience. And what differentiates a true omnichannel solution from its counterparts is the technology that empowers it.
The following is a guest post by Melissa Pollock of AmplifAI. To learn more about AmplifAI, visit the company’s website.
Despite all our collective emphasis on customer experience, culturally, and via systems that drive more customer intel to Customer Service Reps (CSRs) so they can deliver improved Customer Experience (CX), I’m still having challenges when I contact my own service providers. For example, I’m either explaining something a third time, being told something by one agent and something different by another, or my all-time least favorite, hearing ‘I’m sorry for the inconvenience’ with a tone that tells me otherwise!
What’s missing in our service exchanges?!
Humanity! Connection! Warmth! I remember a CSAT turnaround project that was wildly successful because we taught associates how to better connect with people – how to just be real instead of sounding so ‘official,’ how to inject their personality into their conversations, how to demonstrate interest and caring, and generally how to have more fun!
It’s not technical proficiency, but ‘professionalism’ burdening our CX!
I’ve listened to thousands of calls and read hundreds of emails and texts through the course of consulting for contact centers – and in them I rarely heard or saw a CSR that didn’t know the technical aspects of handling inquiries regarding their products and services, instead, it was almost always that they sounded impersonal and uninvolved, overly ‘professional’. The major thing those interactions had in common was that representatives went straight to servicing the customer’s needs but spent little to no time reacting to the customer’s emotion! In talking with them about it, it was as if they avoided connecting because the people they were interacting with were customers, not someone they knew.
How do we help CSRs better connect? Practice what we teach!
To help CSRs better connect with humans, we need to teach, expect, and measure the use of interpersonal communication and influence behaviors (aka, soft skills!) like warmth, personalization, informality, interest, and caring (aka, empathy!). The simplest and fastest way to help them understand how to demonstrate those behaviors with customers, and ensure they actually take time to do so, is for our leaders to model these personal connection behaviors with our CSRs!
It’s ironic, but so simply true that the behaviors we want and expect CSRs to use to connect with customers, the ones that we know drive high CX, those are the same behaviors we need our frontline leaders to employ to better connect with our CSRs!
Employee Experience (EX) is a huge driver for higher CX, and that means frontline leaders and trainers have to use similar skills with team members that we teach team members to use with customers! We have to better develop our leaders, so they model right-way connection behaviors with our customer-facing employees, so they, in turn, know in our culture that that relationships matter – internally, and externally.
5 ways leaders can model high-CX behaviors with their team members
Here are five communication behaviors that frontline leaders can easily use to better connect with their team members, which are ironically parallel to what we ask team members to use with our customers:
The Bottom Line
I love this from Shep Hyken; he said, “a brand is defined by the customers’ experience… the experience is delivered by the employees.” And who delivers the employees’ experience? We all do. But, who’s got time to always do everything the right or best way? There are platforms available now that can give us that time – augmenting frontline leaders’ performance management workflows and tracking so they can be more consistent, more efficient, more organized, and more effective – as teachers, as coaches, and as motivators and celebrators.
If we intentionally work to ensure our frontline leader behaviors demonstrate value in creating interpersonal relationships with customer-facing employees, then we’re not only delivering higher EX and boosting retention. We’re also building a culture where those employees are MUCH more likely to place importance on and engage in those connection behaviors with our customers, which in turn means we’re delivering a better CX and improved business results!
The following is a guest post by Abhay Prasad, Vice President, Product Management for Sparkcentral. To learn more about Sparkcentral visit their website.
Messaging Customer Care: Real-World Deployments, Real Results
The goal of this blog post is to clearly identify the business value of implementing messaging customer care alongside traditional care channels such as phone, email, and live-chat. In my role as Head of Product, I have the privilege of meeting customer service and customer experience leaders on a weekly basis. Over the last several years of my career, I have racked up several hundred such conversations.
These conversations are a part of my role that I love and value immensely because they help me understand our customers’ priorities. While every organization has its own way of articulating their customer service priorities, they generally fall into three main buckets: improving customer experience, controlling customer service costs, and improving agent satisfaction. Agent productivity impacts all three of these commonly held priorities.
Improving agent productivity means conversations are being resolved faster which is a key component of customer satisfaction. It also impacts agent satisfaction because higher productivity is achieved by eliminating repetitive, mundane or wasteful actions that agents are required to do for issue resolution. Finally, and most significantly, agent productivity is directly tied to cost control since its presence enables organizations to handle higher volumes of customer service requests.
In previous posts, we’ve talked about how messaging customer care provides superior CX for consumers. What’s often overlooked is that customer care over messaging channels is also significantly cheaper compared to other, more traditional channels including voice and textual channels such as email and live chat. This is largely because messaging enables agents to dramatically increase productivity.
Voice vs. Messaging
To understand how much more productive, we analyzed a representative sample of our customer base. We found that agents on our platform are able to resolve between 5.7 to 14.5 conversations per hour.This resolution rate is about 25-65% higher than that of voice teams. The median messaging customer care team resolves 7.2 conversations per hour. This is about 42% higher than the benchmark of 4.2-5.2 resolutions per hour for a voice agent. This does not include conversations that did not require a response (e.g., conversations resolved by bots and automation, or a “Thank you” from a customer after a conversation was already marked resolved by an agent). Also excluded are additional conversations conducted by agents that were never resolved.
This disparity in productivity is driven by a messaging agent’s ability to handle many more simultaneous conversations than a voice agent is able to. Agents on our platform often have more than 10 conversations being actively handled at once without jeopardizing the quality of service.
Email vs. Messaging
Messaging provides an even higher productivity gain over email. Email, like messaging, is an asynchronous channel. This means that conversations don’t have to happen in real time and can span minutes, hours, or even days. However, from a consumer’s point of view, email is a highly dissatisfying channel, associated with high response times (often a day, sometimes several days) and high friction. Continue reading →
The following is a guest blog by Charles Schrier, Director of Marketing at SmartAction.
As a lifelong customer service professional, you’ve watched the customer service function change from necessary evil to cornerstone of business success. For so long, businesses found ways to cut costs and increase efficiency in the call center because it was always viewed as a “cost” center. But with today’s customer demands for experiences that are easy and effective, and with more contact channels than ever before, it is getting near impossible to forecast and staff the call center, train agents in the proper skills, and offer consistency across channels and touchpoints.
Companies have an amazing opportunity to meet customer demands and create a strategic advantage over the competition by incorporating AI automation into their customer service operation. Forrester research tells us that 2/3 of consumers said that valuing their time is the most important thing to them, which helps to explain the rise in self-service adoption. With conversational AI automation, businesses are offering self-service for many of the simple and complex repetitive tasks that their call center agents had always been doing. Thanks to consumer tech products like Siri and Cortana, customers are actually very adept and comfortable interacting with conversational AI, whether through voice or digital media. Therefore, companies with AI automation are outpacing competitors by offering the effortless experience their customers want while migrating their operations towards sustainable growth.
AI automation’s most impactful ROI promise is in helping call centers conquer headcount challenges. As contact volumes explode through more and more channels, it has become increasingly difficult to forecast and accurately staff the call center. Even when volume spikes are predictable, they are still expensive to manage using live agents alone. The answer to higher volumes is no longer to hire more people, but rather to use AI agents mixed with live agents in order to automate more and make the live agents more effective for the inquiries that require the human touch. Many companies have found success using an AI virtual assistant service to:
1. Automate repetitive calls, chats, and texts with live agent failover. This helps agents focus on the top priority customer conversations because the routine tasks, like checking order status or making payments, are taken care of by AI.
2. Gather customer data upfront before passing to live agent for assistance. An example is customer account authentication with screen pops for agents so that customers do not need to repeat information.
3. Automate outbound calls and SMS texts for appointment confirmations, delivery reminders, reorders, or other alerts. This is normally a huge cost and time-suck for live agents.
4. Offer a conversational AI Front Door, which uses a natural language greeting like, “How can I help you?” to capture intent. Conversations then get routed either to the IVR, a live agent, or additional AI self-service.