Most of us have a pretty good idea what a good customer journey is:
- minimal waiting
- knowledgeable agents
- fast resolution on first contact
- high satisfaction etc.
But what happens when a contact center is driven by cost control as its prime KPI?
Trying to minimise contact with CSRs using online FAQs, IVR, bots and other automated services is not such a bad thing, right? It happens a lot, in all markets.
But taken out of the context of the customer journey as a whole, cost control can have a devastating impact, actually driving customers away.
Utilising technology to your advantage
Let’s take a look at how technology can either help or hinder in a typical customer/ prospect journey.
Your point of entry may be an inbound phone call, or perhaps you go to a company website and engage with an AI Bot. Let’s assume you do the latter.
You’ll likely start by being asked a few questions so the application can determine if you are an existing customer, or a prospect. Then the Bot will try and respond to your needs. If simple, probably a good experience.
Journey completed happily.
But often the Bot will struggle and so will you. So what happens next? You may simply give up, because you have better things to do.
Customer satisfaction: zero!
The Bot may realise that it is struggling and ask if you would like to speak to an agent. Or you could just ask for this. Smart move. Probably starts with a live text chat. But if the application has done its homework and realises that you are an important customer, then you can get to speak to an agent immediately, or at least get put into an inbound voice queue.
Technology no problem.
Let’s continue to assume that your call is indeed important to the contact center. It knows that you may be a bit fed up by your Bot experience. It won’t want to leave you dangling in an inbound queue for too long, so what might it do?
Well, if you have spoken to an agent in the contact center before, then it should know who that is and attempt to link you up with them. But you won’t wait forever, so you can be given the choice of a call back from that agent, or perhaps leaving them a voicemail. Or, you are so keen to get service that you are happy to speak to any agent, and so you stay in the inbound queue.
But you are not there yet. Inbound volumes are heavy and you may be many minutes away from being serviced. Again you can leave a voicemail or ask for a callback from any agent. It’s not ideal, but at least you are in the system. The contact center knows about you and, if they want your business, it’s over to them to manage the callback, or raise your queue priority.
Winning strategies for customer satisfaction
So we can see that at every point, the available technology and how it’s implemented can either delight or frustrate the customer.
For the customer/ prospect, to get the most from what’s available when making a call or talking to a Bot, you need to be savvy and exploit what technology can do, rather than become a cost-cutting statistic.
For the contact center, if cost cutting is your prime focus, don’t expect to be overwhelmed with lots of happy customer journeys. The best strategy is to approach technology at every point with customer satisfaction front and center, using technology to understand who is contacting you and delivering them an appropriate service.
And by the way, we love Bots. It’s just a matter of horses for courses.