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Leveraging Technology to Foster Trust and Enhance Customer Experience

By Special Guest
Jim Zimmerman
November 30, 2016

Every business wants loyal customers, but preserving customer loyalty becomes more difficult when accounts go delinquent — and that problem is more widespread than you might think. Household debt increased by $35 billion during the second quarter of 2016, and nearly 5 percent of the $12.3 trillion of U.S. consumer debt is in some stage of delinquency.

Helping consumers get current on their accounts requires more than just great customer service to preserve a good relationship. It also calls for a company culture that’s rooted in honest communication and treating every customer with respect, regardless of their account status. And it’s not just the front-end service that matters; back-end procedures to protect consumer information with technology are also crucial to maintaining a positive relationship. Businesses need to know that their partners are at least as well-versed in security, privacy, and compliance concerns as they are themselves.

Contact centers have a huge responsibility to maintain trust — trust in the organizations that hire us, and trust in our own work. Part of that trust depends on protecting data for which we’re responsible from internal and external threats. That means making sure people have access only to those resources for which they’re authorized. It means implementing policies not only on a personnel level — such as prohibiting the use of personal cell phones in the contact center — but also on a hardware level, by, for example, disabling the ability to use a USB storage device to copy or extract data. And it means encrypting data at rest on storage resources and in motion across the network.

The situation is complicated by the fact that today’s consumers want to interact with collectors in new ways, such as via mobile devices. You have to keep pace with those changes or risk losing valuable customers who have new expectations about how they want to be treated. That could mean creating a custom portal to allow a customer to interact with you on their schedule, from their choice of device, be it a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It could mean rolling out a chatbot to handle Twitter interactions. Or it could mean coding a custom app to provide customers with information, let them make payments, and interact with the people responsible for their accounts.

Solid service delivery also requires staying current with your hardware infrastructure, software development, and all IT implementations. Reliable operations require having solid, tested backup procedures, hardware redundancies to ensure your systems are up and running 24/7, and a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity. While you might think those items are table stakes for any business, a study by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council found that only 40 percent of organizations have a disaster recovery plan, and 23 percent of them have never tested theirs.

Adopting inherently secure technology platforms, such as virtual servers and desktops, helps build compliance and security across your organization. The power and agility of your technology can enable your company to build trust with your customers while providing a positive customer experience. The alternative can be disastrous — think how badly the high-profile data breaches at Target, Anthem, and Home Depot damaged those businesses’ reputations.

Just as important as trust is customer experience. A strong technology framework can provide benefits such as real-time data updates across related systems, leading to a faster, more seamless experience for customers. CRM software can help you maintain all relevant customer information in a single repository, making it easier to give customers the information they need quickly, without wasting their time.

Keeping up with technology trends in the contact center takes a lot of work, but it offers a big reward. A positive approach that treats customers with a healthy dose of consideration can produce results and promote lasting customer loyalty.

Jim Zimmerman is Vice President of Information Technology for Waypoint Resource Group. He oversees Waypoint’s data center, infrastructure, software development, and all IT implementations. With 30 years of experience, Jim is known for executing IT strategies that help organizations realize efficiencies via the latest technology platforms. In his 15 years with Consultants to Government and Industry (CGI) prior to joining Waypoint, Jim gained experience deploying large business solutions in the public and private sectors for state and local governments, including federal contracting. His adherence to proven methodologies and customer service approaches ensures successful integration on projects of any size or complexity. Jim relies on these processes to build and maintain a solid service delivery while generating opportunities for scale and financial growth.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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