Customer satisfaction has always been a key contact centre metric, but now increased emphasis on customer experience has made it a focus for many boardrooms.
Contact centres are on the frontline when it comes to customer experience, so with pressure mounting, many are asking how they can further improve their customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.
The modern customer is used to getting what they want, when they want it. They can pick and choose when and how to interact with a brand, and they expect consistent levels of personalisation and attention across every channel. This means that high quality service leads to increased loyalty from customers.
The industry is also recognising that there is a direct connection between customer experience and revenue. Recent research by West, The State of Customer Experience 2017, found that while a huge majority of contact centre leaders (92%) agree that the link between CX and revenue exists, just 29% strongly agree that their contact centre can design and deliver a seamless customer experience across multiple channels.
Enda Kenneally, vice president of sales & business development for West’s Unified Communications Services looks at the top three practical techniques that will ensure you continue to meet customer needs and increase satisfaction.
1. Remove drivers of customer effort
Industry research shows that around 30% of customers report spending what they considered a high level of effort to get their problem resolved. This often means that by the time they make a call to an agent, they are already frustrated. Forcing customers to switch from the web to the phone, or asking them to re-explain an issue, together with having to repeatedly contact a company are three main culprits of reported high customer effort levels.
By identifying where the effort drivers are, firms can proactively work to eliminate them or ease the friction and provide a satisfying customer experience. In fact, many contact centres find that most of the issues causing customer effort can be easily avoided with the right technology and process flow design.
2. Empower agents
Too often frontline customer service representatives just don’t have the right information – and are often not given the responsibility – they need to resolve customer queries first time. Make sure you give agents the training and technology tools they need to keep your customers satisfied. If your agent can’t clearly see the data or information about the customer they’re speaking to, they will be unable to personalise the attention given to the customer.
It’s also worth thinking about the style of interaction you are encouraging. When did you last review the workflows and scripting technology of your contact centres? Do they support your agents to make their interactions as natural and human as possible? Or are they inflexible, robotic and frustrating for both parties? If so, it might be time for an overhaul.
3. Develop a self-service strategy
Most consumers, across all demographics, prefer self-service for simple transactions and interactions. Research from the world’s leading air transport IT and communications specialist, SITA, showed that almost every flight is now booked using self-service technology; and only 4% say they will seek out a human.
Yet contact centres have been slow to catch on; recent research commissioned by West shows that just 21% of contact centres offer self-service. It is time for a change.
Whatever industry you are in, find ways to empower your customers to self-serve, whether via a touchpad, the web, within the IVR, or even a mobile app. For example, if you start to see customers reaching your contact centre with the same or similar issues, then investigate if the solutions can be introduced into a FAQ on your website, or a self-service strategy. By deploying successful self-service tools, you can empower your customers to quickly resolve minor issues the way they want to and customer service representatives can spend more time on dedicated and complex queries as the contact centre load is reduced.
You can even extend self-service into calls, by playing personalised messages in call queues, such as a customer’s predicted delivery time. Or in call menus, where customers can interact with the system without needing to speak to a live agent for issues such as requesting product information or even payment processing. However, you must make sure that customers are given the option of whether to use your self-service system – always provide them with a choice to speak to an agent if they wish to.
These principles are not difficult to put into practice; but they can involve a cultural shift. The effort invested will be worthwhile, allowing you to continue to match customer expectations and boost satisfaction by focusing on their changing needs rather than a rigidly-defined strategy. At the end of the day customer satisfaction is about getting the balance right and making sure your customer always has a choice. By increasing convenience for your customers you will find a welcome by-product: lower operational costs and pleasing spikes in your customer satisfaction ratings.
About the Author
Enda Kenneally is the VP of Sales and Business Development at West, previously Magnetic North. Enda has a wealth of experience in the communications technology industry delivering against UK, European and Global senior sales and business development roles. By building inspired, dynamic and successful teams, Enda has led three different voice vendors to number one market share positions in the UK. Before joining Magnetic North (now West), Enda worked at Avaya, Excell Managed Services and Mitel Networks.