This month we return to our favourite topic of how to deliver top quality inbound services (help desk, customer service, technical support, etc).
Consumers are a smart bunch these days, with high expectations of a customer service call center. They want to be able to
- contact you in the manner and at the time of their choosing
- get a fast, knowledgeable response
- have their query, purchase or request satisfied, first time
No matter what is going on behind the scenes at the call center, and no matter what the channel of contact, customers expect first-class service.
To earn the label ‘first-class’, we believe customer service (to borrow a UK government buzz phrase) must be ‘joined-up’ in several key areas:
- Joined-up channels– multi-media/ multi-channel communications
Customers expect that no matter how they contact you, the left hand will know what the right hand is doing; for instance, the agent responding to your email will know that you phoned last week. For that to happen, your software must be able to collect data centrally from all channels.Customer interactions spawn sessions that get managed in queues. And service levels should be set for all queues. So your software has to monitor your queues and switch agents when service levels are exceeded. This means automatic swapping of agents between queues (email, web chat, voice, social media, etc. – sometimes called multi-media blending) subject to agents having the right skills.
- Joined-up data – information sharing
Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? The main character relives the same day with the same events over and over. That’s how it can often feel talking to a call center; you give information, you get transferred, you give the same information again, you get transferred again, etc. Joined-up customer service removes this burden by sending any and all relevant data with the voice transfer. The customer gives the information once, and it is remembered throughout any subsequent interactions. This is not rocket science. But how many times have you had to suffer this frustration?Also, the agent needs access to the right tools and information in order to be effective. For instance, the Dyson call center in Wiltshire, UK, gives agents easy access to every model they have made, physically in the center of the room. The agent can touch and see the correct model and talk to the customer at the same time. The result? First-class joined-up customer service, every time.
- Joined up agents – location transparency
When you contact a contact center, you don’t care if the agent is in his bedroom or on the call center floor provided that he has the tools and information to be able to help you. This means that all tools must be available in a browser, including access to any database or 3rd party tool for appointment setting, stock availability, etc.
- Joined-up history – interaction transparency
If a customer has bought something from you, or had any previous contact, she expects you to know all about it. This means fast access to the database to see all previous interactions. The customer record will also need to be updated on the fly by any agent or supervisor, and this will need smart database access management.
With the increasing consumer use of social media, you simply cannot afford to offer poor customer service. The world will know in minutes, and you will be up to your ears in damage limitation.
And don’t invest on a promise. If you are reengineering your customer service to meet some of these challenges, be demanding and don’t part with your cash until you know you have a system that delivers.