Agent: “How can I help?”
You: “Well, it’s a long story…”
Have you ever uttered these words when you’ve got in touch, yet again, to ask an organisation to solve a persistent problem? If you have, you’ll know that one of two things can happen.
Either, the agent stops you right there, looks up your history, and troubleshooting carries on from where you left off.
Or you’ll need to repeat the whole sorry story to a new agent. Even then, sometimes it can take tens of minutes of waiting while the unwitting rep scrambles to piece together exactly what’s happened, trying to understand the timeline of events from fragmented logs in disparate systems.
I experienced the latter situation when trying to solve a wifi issue with my internet provider. Unwitting agents would tell me to follow the same troubleshooting steps, forcing me to explain that I’d tried all of that before – turning my router off/on again, reverting to factory settings, checking my access points, getting a new router delivered, all the while my issues persisting and my patience running thin.
What’s worse is that agents on live chat didn’t seem to know what agents on the phone had suggested. Twitter reps told me to phone in. Different departments didn’t even seem to share the same access to my communication logs. The experience was drawn-out, painful, and with some bitterness I eventually changed providers.
According to research, telecom companies saw a 57% rise in customer complaints in 2018, with internet problems being the most common issue. But the rising percentage of customer complaints isn’t new or exclusive to just the telecom industry.
Poor customer service is costing businesses across all industries more than 75 billion dollars a year. Technological developments and digital channels hold the promise to reduce customer service issues, but systems that aren’t integrated can cause more problems than they solve.
It doesn’t have to be this way. An effective omnichannel strategy can work to reduce the fragmentation and provide experiences that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Here are some ideas to think about to create that strategy for your business.
More consistent, personalized experiences
52% of consumers (like me!) switch service providers due to poor service. Even in those customer service situations where a resolution can’t be easily found, consistency and personalisation can really take the sting out of the issue.
Customers shouldn’t have to repeat themselves several times to several different customer service agents. Well-integrated channels mean that agents should be able to instantly see a timeline of contact logs, regardless of which channel they came in on, and provide situations that are tailored to the customer.
Time is something we can never get back. And just as customers hate having their time wasted through repeat contacts and time spent on hold, wasted time is terrible for contact centers too, causing inflated handle times and lower agent availability.
Channel pivoting should never be a barrier to good customer service. Blending all your channels into one platform gives the agent a complete view of the customer so they can solve problems faster and more efficiently.
Customers don’t think channel, businesses do. Understanding your customer and offering more consistent and personalized service helps to build empathetic, considerate relationships that keep customers for the long-term.
Effective omnichannel systems allow customers to be transferred to the agent they last spoke to. Many customers breathe a sigh of relief when they’re able to speak to the same agent who knows their history, and this helps to forge stronger relationships too.
An effective omnichannel customer strategy allows you to use intent-based routing to get customers to the right person, no matter how, where or when they try to access service. This not only allows returning customers to be served by agents they’re familiar with but also makes sure that the right queries go to the right departments – curbing the dreaded transfer tag.
Customers should be able to access service in the channels that are most convenient for them. Contact centers need to make sure that customers can get the answers they’re looking for on the channel that they choose, or risk losing them to a competitor that can deliver those answers better and faster.
Faster, more efficient agents
Contact center work can be tough at the best of times, but it’s made even more difficult through forcing agents to juggle disconnected systems. Bringing everything together in one platform prevents agents from needing to switch back and forth between applications. Rather than needing to keep an eye on five different windows or manually copy and paste customer information provided through an IVR maze, agents can focus on simply solving customer problems.
Eliminating the need for multiple logins, siloed information, and endless searching from your agent’s day-to-day lives will make them faster, more efficient, and more productive with their time – not to mention, a lot happier too.
All too often, customers give up and walk away because they just can’t find the information or support they need. If your competitors make this easier, then your retention rate is on the line. A proactive customer service strategy is one way you can truly go above and beyond the rest. Map out your customer journey and identify where people most often drop off.
For example, you can program your live chat system to offer a proactive help invite that pops up after a certain number of failed searches on your website, routing customers straight to an agent who’s ready to assist. This allows your agents to capture customers at risk of falling through the cracks, reducing your churn rate.
By anticipating customer problems and solving them before they become serious pains, you can prevent your customers from ever getting to the point of attrition.
While proactive live chat outreach is a great way to reduce customer churn, it’s also important to widen your focus and proactively search for trends which could signal issues that cause customers to leave.
Different platforms have different reports and analytics suites. Trying to compile reports to identify trends and draw meaningful conclusions or find areas of improvement for your overall customer service strategy is often a hassle when you need to pull different metrics and KPIs for every channel. Not to mention, it makes effective QA doubly difficult.
Bringing all your reports into one, unified dashboard allows you to uncover information and trends that you may not have noticed before. With a simplified reporting suite, you can better see how your customers interact with your agents, what type of questions they ask, and where areas of friction appear – allowing you to make improvements more easily.
No customer likes to be forced to walk away. More often than not, the inefficiencies and frustrations that cause severed customer relationships aren’t deliberate on an organization’s part – they’re simply the result of poorly planned processes, and disconnected systems.
Your contact center plays a major role in maintaining customer relationships which then benefit your entire business. Considering that 68% of consumers will not go back to a provider once they’ve left, and 80% of them believe the organization could have done more to retain their business in the first place, there’s real opportunity for contact centers to make a difference.
Omnichannel might sound like a buzzword, but as a CX tactic it’s solid. By creating an effective omnichannel strategy with integrated platforms sharing a single source of customer truth, you stand the chance to gain benefits that go beyond the technological – helping your customers to perceive you as efficient, understanding, and worthy of their continued custom.
Originally published here.