18 Jun 10 Ways to Improve Your Customer’s Experience
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
In meeting rooms around the world, one question persists: how do we improve the customer experience? Call centers have traditionally been perceived as cost centers, resolving issues and addressing complaints. Customer loyalty and retention during unprecedented times can be incredibly challenging, but there are steps that can be taken to ensure that your customers are not ignored when they need you the most. With offices shutting down due to COVID-19 and employees advised to stay home, remote agents can play a key role in serving your customers and looking after their needs. Provided your team is armed with the right technology and flexible systems, a remote workforce can help your business overcome any obstacle. Here are 10 ways to improve your customer’s experience:
Throughout 2020, many have had to postpone travel or upcoming vacations, as the airline industry has been heavily 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 my case, I had planned a trip to see the UEFA European Championship live this summer but ultimately had to change my flights to 2021. My airline has a policy in place to issue travel credits that must be used before March 31st, 2021, to account for any alterations. After waiting on the phone for 90 minutes to speak with a customer service representative with 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 additional fee. In my case I needed it to be extended by 4 months, but according to the agent the system wasn’t flexible enough to allow them to do so!
Although the airline’s policies have since been revised, my issue remained unresolved for several months and eventually I had to call again. I went in to that second call feeling frustrated and expecting my issue to remain unresolved. 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
You can provide your agents with a 360-degree view of the customer simply by embedding a softphone, software that allows users to make calls through their computer, into your CRM. Giving agents full access to the customer’s history of previous cases or interactions across different channels while they’re on the phone, will enable 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, such as Five9, NICE inContact and Amazon Connect have pre-built integrations into popular CRMs: 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. Automation can play a key role, as cases can be auto-generated based on caller intent, such as 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
Voice remains the dominant channel when it comes to providing service, but alternatives such as Chat, Text, and Social are becoming increasingly popular with younger customer demographics. 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. However, asking agents to manually login or out of queues is not ideal. So having agent presence synchronization between voice and digital channels enables them to handle any type of customer interaction. New channels such as WhatsApp, Messenger, 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 article would be complete without discussing AI and virtual assistants. Organizations have long been providing self-service capabilities to customers over the phone so they can book appointments or make payments. However, bot technologies today such as AWS Lex, Google Dialogflow, or Salesforce Einstein allow organizations to build reusable bots and implement them across different channels. 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 to agents with the right context.
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 attempting to resolve. 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. However, having visibility into how customers are interacting with different channels requires information to be presented in a visually interactive format, leveraging a unified interface. Most leading vendors such as Salesforce allow you to bring voice metrics and call information into your CRM to perform analytics. For executives, it is critical to have a view of KPIs in real-time. Agent specific metrics can also be exposed in the form of Dashboards to motivate and further incentivize agents to hit their targets.
8- Supervisor Console
Continuing with the theme of management features, giving supervisors real-time monitoring capabilities can prevent most interactions from ending poorly. Supervisors should be able to whisper-coach agents or enter the conversation when appropriate. Throw near real-time call transcription and sentiment analysis into the mix, supervisors can be alerted to negative customer reactions or dissatisfaction, allowing them to jump in and instantly address any scenario. Dealing with frustrated customers can be a 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 or 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 conducted by one of our customers 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.