18 Jun 10 ways to improve Customer Experience (CX) by empowering your agents and supervisors with the Salesforce Service Cloud tools
By Junaid (Jay) Ikram – Business Solutions Architect – Nubik
Certified AWS and Salesforce Consultant, specializing in Genesys, Amazon Connect, and Sales/Service Cloud platform…www.linkedin.com
To improve customer experience, that’s a sentence echoing in meeting rooms every week. Contact centers traditionally have mostly been perceived as cost centers, resolving customer issues and addressing complaints. However, the customer service industry dynamics are rapidly evolving. During times of economic downturn, organizations with strong financials and leadership, which can retain their customers are most likely to survive. Customer loyalty and retention during unprecedented times like these might seem challenging but some steps can be taken to ensure that your customers are not ignored when they need you the most. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, with offices shutting down and employees advised to stay at home, remote agents can play a key role inadequately serving your customers and looking after their needs. Provided these agents are armed with the right technology and flexible systems, a remote workforce can help you survive when your business is affected or severely compromised.
Banks that are able to look after their customer’s finances or airlines that can accommodate alterations to travel itineraries are eventually the ones that would create emotional connections with consumers, associated with increased customer lifetime value. During the past few months, many people have had to postpone travel or upcoming vacation plans and the airline industry understandably has been hugely impacted. Personally being a football (soccer) fanatic, I had bought a pair of tickets to watch the European Championships in the summer, which have since been moved to 2021, just like the Tokyo Olympics and numerous delayed sporting events around the globe.
In lieu of all this chaos, I needed to change my flights to the same time next year to catch some Euro 2021 action. My airline had a policy in place that it would issue travel credits to be used before March 31st, 2021, to account for any alterations. However, the Euros are not taking place until June next year, so I had to call in and get human assistance. After waiting an hour and a half in a queue listening to the same announcements/music and no Callback option, I finally got in touch with an agent who informed me that they can extend the validity of my travel credit by another 3 months for an extra charge. This scenario wasn’t ideal either as I was planning to return home from my trip sometime in July, but the extension offered was valid until the end of June. I asked the agent if they could extend the travel credit by another month, but guess what? The system wasn’t flexible enough to allow them or their supervisor to do so!
The wait time and overall experience will remain long in the memory. Given that it’s a rough time for airlines, I know I shouldn’t be complaining too much. The airline change/refund policies have since come under scrutiny and have been revised. However, my issue remained unresolved for several months and eventually I had to call in again. This is a perfect example of how first contact resolution can significantly reduce call volumes and wait times. Adding features such as Callback along with integration into flexible customer relationship management (CRM) and reservation systems can be clear differentiators against the competition. My experiences as a consumer and a CX consultant inspired me to write about 10 ways technology can equip your agents to provide great customer experiences.
1- Integrated Softphone
Let’s start with the simple bare minimum here. By embedding a softphone into a CRM application like Salesforce Service Cloud, you can provide your agents with that 360-degree view of the customer. Allowing the agents to access a history of previous customer cases or interactions across different channels while they are on the phone, enables them to speak with context and provide a more personalized customer experience. This also reduces the need for the agent to switch between multiple applications and screens, as well as providing seamless service in a world where customers are prone to pivoting channels frequently.
2- Screen Pop Customer Information
Most telephony platforms like Five9, NICE inContact and Amazon Connect have pre-built integrations into popular CRM systems like Salesforce, Zendesk, or Pega etc. Moreover, you also have the ability to leverage third-party softphone connectors available across App Marketplaces to integrate voice with CRM. One critical aspect of this integration is bi-directional information flow between the two systems. Identifying the caller using their phone number, capturing call reason within the IVR, presenting key customer attributes to the agent along with a screen pop of customer contact record. Automation can also play a key role, where a Cases can be auto-created based on caller intent or an opportunity automatically generated if a customer is looking for new products. Leveraging these Salesforce Service Cloud features would enhance agent efficiency for each interaction and reduce average handle time.
3- Agent Presence Synchronization b/w Voice and Omni-Channel
Voice remains the dominant channel when it comes to providing service, but emerging channels such as Chat, Text, and Social are becoming increasingly popular with the younger customer demographic. Offering service across lower-cost digital channels based on customer preference is understandably a goal for most organizations. Giving agents the ability to handle various interaction types in a blended environment also allows them to multi-task and offers them a variety of work. However, asking agents to manually login or out of queues is not ideal. So having agent presence synchronization between voice and digital channels along with appropriate capacity rules set up, enables these agents to handle any type of customer interaction coming in. New channels such as WhatsApp, Messengers, and Apple Business Chat keep emerging, and hence the need to have a consolidated digital customer service strategy that empowers your agents to simultaneously address multiple customer touch-points.
4- Self-Service across Channels
No CX blog post would be complete without discussing AI and virtual assistants. Organizations have long been providing self-service capabilities to the customers over the phone where they have the ability to book an appointment or make a payment. However, bot technologies today such as AWS Lex, Google Dialogflow, or Salesforce Einstein allow organizations to build reusable bots and implement these across different channels. As a millennial, I might love self-service but hate calling in. So it is essential to have a cross-channel self-service strategy that allows virtual assistants to authenticate customers and perform common tasks. From an agent’s perspective, when an interaction does require human intervention, it is critical to pass on the customer’s conversation history with the bot to provide agents with the right context. This again makes the agents’ lives much easier and reduces customer frustration as they do not have to repeat information.
5- Empower Agents with Relevant Knowledge
The information presented to the agents as they log into service applications to start their day can be tailored based on any new sales or marketing initiatives. Any hot discounts or promos for new customers or key business announcements can be displayed on the agent’s home screen based on their profiles within Salesforce Service Cloud. Leverage personalization capabilities to keep the agents well informed. To complement this information, agents should be presented with relevant Knowledge Articles based on the type of customer inquiry they are working on resolving. Salesforce Knowledge configuration and lifecycle management would enable your agents to provide seamless experiences. Try to push relevant information and reduce the number of clicks required to perform repetitive tasks, to optimize agent efficiency and in turn, reduce average handle time.
6- Access to Call Recordings within CRM
CRM will typically house a history of previous customer interactions along with their transcripts. On top of that, call recordings and transcriptions can also be made available for supervisors and/or success agents to review. These would allow supervisors to cross-reference and validate anomalous customer claims or use these for Quality Management purposes to guide, coach and improve agent performance. Having a complete view of all customer interaction types within a single consolidated system again gives you the edge when providing a consistent cross-channel experience.
7- Reports and Dashboards
We live in a massively connected world powered by vast amounts of customer data. Exposing this information in the form of Reports and Dashboards is standard call center/CRM functionality. However, having visibility into how customers are interacting with different interaction channels requires this information to be presented in a visually interactive format, leveraging a unified interface. Most leading vendors like Salesforce allow you to bring voice metrics and call information into CRM to perform analytics. For executives, it is critical to have a view of key business KPIs in real-time and surface hidden trends and patterns using historical reports. Agent specific metrics can also be exposed in the form of Dashboards to motivate and incentivize agents to hit their targets.
8- Supervisor Console
Continuing with the theme of management features, giving customer service supervisors real-time monitoring capabilities can prevent most interactions from going southwards. Supervisors should be able to whisper-coach agents or barge-in when appropriate. Throw near real-time call transcription and sentiment analysis into the mix, supervisors can be alerted regarding negative customer emotions or dissatisfaction, allowing them to jump in and instantly address such scenarios. Dealing with angry customers can be challenging but with real-time customer sentiment analysis and enhanced agent monitoring (part of Salesforce Service Cloud Voice), your organization can prevent customer churn and reduce attrition.
9- Feeding agent information into Workforce Management
Both agent voice metrics and work activity information within CRM can be fed into third-party Workforce Management (WFM) systems. This provides Workforce planners and managers with a consolidated view into real-time agent adherence and compliance. Whether you are using a single platform for all interaction channels or leveraging CRM for digital with a separate telephony link, it is useful to feed Omni-Channel information into a WFM system for accurate cross-channel scheduling, forecasting and resource allocation. Cloud-based platforms give you the ability to quickly scale up/down. Using work activity information in conjunction with remote agents and an integrated Workforce Engagement suite would ensure that your wait times never exceed single digits.
10- High Availability and Backup Plan
In times of uncertainty, it is reassuring that most leading cloud-based vendors guarantee at least 99% up-time. To account for Disaster scenarios or any type of compatibility issues (integration, updates etc.), always have a backup plan in place around application downtime. A good example might be a softphone application that won’t load inside a CRM on a given day. Make sure to have a contingency plan in place and enable direct agent access to the softphone outside of the CRM, to account for any unforeseen issues. Even when the chips are down, forward-looking organizations still find a way to take care of their customers.
A recent survey that was conducted on a Webinar that I was a part of, clearly revealed that the organization’s top priorities revolve around improving CX and increasing revenue through 2020. However, you can’t really move your CSat needle without improving agent experience and efficiency. At the end of the day, agents need the right tools to provide great customer service. Great customer experiences directly translate into better customer loyalty, increase in spending, and ultimately account for significant revenue growth.
With NICE’s acquisition of inContact a few years ago and the recent Salesforce Service Cloud Voice announcements solidifying Salesforce’s partnership with AWS, the demand for a fully consolidated customer engagement hub is very clear. I hope you have found this post to be insightful.