Contact center managers spend a lot of time looking at metrics such as average handle time and first call resolution, and all that’s important. But sometimes the path to better results is as plain as the nose on your face. In this case, it involves taking customer interests to heart, and installing the people and processes to address those interests.
Just take a look at what happened when Ryanair recently cut its fees and restrictions, and loosened its policies to allow customers to bring more carry-on bags. The moves contributed to a 28 percent increase in passenger numbers from the previous year. While this example involves an airline and not a contact center, InfoCision’s Steve Brubaker (News - Alert) notes it clearly illustrates that customer care and return on investment go hand in hand.
“Simply put, the key ingredient to experiencing the most ROI is to build an entirely customer-centric strategy,” says Brubaker, chief of staff at the teleservices company.
Formulating and executing on a customer-centric strategy requires empathy with your customers, hiring and training the right people, making the right connections, and maintaining perspective in changing conditions, Brubaker notes.
Empathy is a particularly important part of the equation, Brubaker says, noting that poor customer relations costs companies nearly $41 billion annually.
Here are just two cautionary tales of what can happen when a company fails to be empathetic to its customers. American Airlines made a woman wait for hours on hold, and it suffered the consequences. Its reputation was called into question when its Twitter (News - Alert) page was flooded with a rush of negative comments. In another example, a hotel fined customers $500 for posting negative reviews on Yelp. That, of course, did nothing to elevate people’s view of the hotel. Instead, it just turned bad to worse.
“Rather than fight fire with fire or try to cover up negative press,” suggests Brubaker, “businesses should use poor reviews as a learning experience and motivation to improve their customer care strategy. Businesses that receive unfavorable assessments can redeem their reputation by expressing compassion for customers’ unpleasant experiences.”
Auditing content centers calls more frequently to maintain consistent quality; encouraging supervisors to provide agents with positive reinforcement for delivering customer service above and beyond the call of duty; hiring dedicated, experienced, and mature contact center communicators; and leveraging skill-based routing to ensure customers are connected with agents that are experienced with their issues and highly proficient at solving problems all go a long way toward delivering services that show customers you care about them, and toward realizing a return on your investment, Brubaker notes.
“Never underestimate the power of empathy,” he adds, “it might be the most powerful tool in improving your contact center services ROI.”
It’s also important to remember that we live in a dynamic world in which customer expectations for what constitutes a good experience continue to change. At the same time, organizations should keep in mind that the makeup of their customer base changes over time. That means managers need to consistently reevaluate their customer service best practices and investigate resources that could improve their customers’ experiences and their organization’s bottom line.
For instance, a contact center that has been using just one method of communication to provide customer support might discover it’s time to integrate another channel of customer support, like online services, to respond to customer needs and engage customers in a new way, says Brubaker.
Understanding who customers are can help organizations get a better handle on what additional channels will most appeal to them. Leveraging data and related analysis also can assist in the creation of more accurate customer profiles and market segmentation. These tools can allow organizations like contact centers to respond to specific customers or customer groups in a way that can both create better customer experiences, and help contact centers prioritize and target key individuals and segments.
“There’s a strong relationship between data and customer care in today’s buying landscape,” notes Brubaker. “Streamline your customer care strategy by taking advantage of pertinent data your contact center aggregates from daily inbound and outbound calls. For example, track your target consumer’s buying behavior over a period of time in order to produce customer profiles. Moreover, leverage these profiles to create predictive models for each of your buyer personas. In doing so, you’ll be able to provide faster, more knowledgeable support with each new customer care interaction.”
Using data and technology can be very helpful. But, in the end, as Brubaker emphasizes, customer service is about people. So hiring good people and training them so they have the knowledge and ability to use the available tools at hand is key.
“Your contact center agents represent a vehicle that drives either a positive or a negative customer care interaction,” Brubaker notes. “To safely ensure your contact center provides the best in customer care communications, in-depth agent training is required. By arming your agents with client-specific training, for instance, they can become subject matter experts in targeted areas rather than be only somewhat knowledgeable in a number of areas.”
And that, he says, creates true differentiation and returns.
For more information on contact center ROI, visit www.infocision.com.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino