Transforming the Customer Experience with Responsive Customer Care
We find ourselves in a new paradigm. Communication technology has shifted power from the hands of a few to the hands of the many. By 2016, more than one billion smartphones will be in use, and more than 60% of inbound customer service calls will come from smartphones, laptops and devices other than landlines, including gaming consoles, TV set-top boxes and store kiosks. If it’s connected to the internet, it’s a channel of communication and today’s always-connected, app-enabled customers want answers quickly so they can solve problems and accomplish tasks within the flow of their daily activities. Accommodating them requires turning many of our thoughts about customer service upside-down.
As a result, top executives, customer experience managers and contact center professionals must establish a conversation strategy that enables them to satisfy the individual needs of customers anywhere in real-time. Their challenge is to push the envelope of communication technology to enhance each incident of customer interaction at every touch point across the continuum of contact, thereby transforming the entire customer experience from top-down and reactive to customer need-based, “flat” and responsive.
The In-the-Moment Customer
Self-service, such as that made possible by voice menu driven IVRs, interactive websites and mobile apps, has been critical to making real-time customer care not only possible but expected. But imagine the customer who has entered data into a mobile app or web page without the capability to solve his or her problem. Dead-ended, the customer seeks to speak with someone who can help. After searching and finally dialing the proper phone number, the customer is now required to start the authentication process all over again. After inputting information into the voice menu system a second time, the customer waits on hold before transferring to a support specialist, perhaps having to repeat information yet again. Frustrated by the experience, the caller may be less than pleasant when engaging the support specialist, adding to the overall handle time of the interaction. More importantly, the customer may be less likely to recommend the brand and more likely to become a detractor.
On the other hand, imagine a customer experience where all pertinent and previously entered information transfers with the customer across channels so that re-authentication can be bypassed, previously completed troubleshooting information can be analyzed and the length of the call shortened because the second tier support specialist was empowered at the start of the call with the right information. From the get-go, the specialist is dealing with a happier customer, ensuring a smoother conversation.
Bridging the Gap from Self-Service to Conversation
This scenario is made possible by technology that provides callback with context and bridges the gap between all self-service channels and skilled representatives who can help. We call this a Conversation Bridge. A logical evolution of callback for landlines, a Conversation Bridge is a multichannel solution that offers the ability for customers evaluate wait times in mobile apps, on web pages or inside online social communities. Customers are empowered to request a callback as soon as possible or to schedule a callback for a more convenient time. The process provides a solution to the common customer service problem of dead-ending after exhausting self-service options. It’s an effective alternative to calling a toll-free number, starting all over in a voice menu system and waiting on hold. Multichannel callback technology promises to enable companies to offer a more satisfying customer experience at this critical touch point, while at the same time achieving operational efficiencies.
Moments that Matter Most
Even with a full range of highly sophisticated self-service options, people still need and want to talk to people. Becoming stranded in self-service not only frustrates the customer, it is frustrating precisely at the moment when the company is presented with an important opportunity to differentiate the brand, strengthen the brand perception and build the customer relationship.
Failure at this moment is especially costly and potentially reputation-damaging. Customers expect both high-tech and high-touch, and research shows that when they don’t get it, they tell their friends and family: 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company as a result of a negative experience; 79% of consumers who have had a negative experience told others about it; and 76% say word-of-mouth comments such as these influence their purchase decision, according to the fifth annual “Customer Experience Report North America” conducted by Harris Interactive®.
A recent Consumer Reports® survey highlights the evaporation of trust when self-service fails: “There’s a feeling on the part of Americans that companies are deliberately making it difficult for them by burying phone numbers, sidestepping calls and steering customers to online FAQs instead of living human beings,” said a senior project editor for Consumer Reports.
In our culture, the highest and best use of technology is to automate as much as possible, yet facilitate human contact in the instances when it is most needed and desired. The new standard for customer service is to ensure that customers are always just a tap away from speaking with a specialist who knows who they are and exactly how to help. Using a Conversation Bridge and multichannel callback to blend automated self-service support with the human touch at just the right time is a win-win for customers and companies that care about customer service.