January 6th, 2017
The New Baseline for Customer Service: Connectivity Across Channels
The customer journey seems to be more fragmented with the addition of each service channel, e.g., Web, chat, social. In most companies, the channels aren’t fully integrated and become data silos, meaning there is little to no communication between them. With silos comes fractured reporting that leaves businesses unaware of their customer experience shortcomings, like conflicting performance goals and protocols across departments. The result is often difficult and inconsistent support as customers move between service channels.
Customers are getting more and more discerning, continually evaluating their current brands to determine if another will better meet their needs. Businesses must come to terms with the fact that there is a new baseline for service that rejects disjointedness in the customer journey. Connectedness (or lack thereof) across service channels will create a ripple effect across the customer journey that impacts customer loyalty and businesses’ bottom line.
Here are common symptoms of a disconnected customer journey:
- Customers initiate an interaction within their preferred channel but are often forced to switch to another.
- Customers must repeat information with each transfer which increases frustration and erodes trust. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are impacted.
- Animosity worsens if customers are unable to bypass business-mandate service channels to get to their preferred channel (e.g., customers can’t navigate the website to find a chat window, or are unable to reach a live agent at the call center).
- Lack of personalization or ease of service may push dissatisfied customers to switch brands.
- With satisfied customers, businesses may miss out on opportunities to sell, upsell and cross-promote their products.
Basically, the burden is placed on the customer to manage the entire experience. Despite their efforts, they are still unable to attain service on their own terms.
What does a connected customer journey look like?
Customers expect their interactions to be tracked and their information to be available in every service channel, a primary indicator of a truly connected journey. If your customer chooses to live chat with you about an issue, they should not be forced into the contact center or email channel. Each department and channel should be armed with the customer context it needs to provide excellent (and proactive) service. Every transfer is a burden placed on the customer, so businesses need to keep these at an absolute minimum and ensure that any transfer is absolutely necessary.
If data sources are truly integrated, service is effortless and effective; customers need not switch between channels or repeat their account information dozens of times to receive sufficient help. This continuity reduces customer frustration and induces trust in the customer-brand relationship.
Businesses can create seamless omni-channel service by fully-integrating data sources across their customer journeys. When all channels share their customer data, they begin speaking a common language that facilitates more unified reporting and analytics. With all departments and functions unified in their reporting, identifying competencies and pain points is significantly easier because businesses can see how each service channel affects the others. Says Aceyus’ Vice President of Support and Development, Ben Vesta:
“One of the biggest problems [today] … within large organizations is that service technologies typically exist in silos. For example, while the marketing team is monitoring social media, the email team is focused on answering emails and the contact center is concerned with how many phone calls are coming in. Generally, they don’t spend a lot of time talking to one another… Unifying all of the customer data [gets] all of these departments looking at the same reporting. The marketing team can look at the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns because they can see how many phone calls and emails the campaign generated. Departments and business functions working together within the large organizations seems obvious, but without collective reporting, they really don’t.”
Businesses should take full advantage of cross-channel insight with regular reports and analytics that diagnose problems across the customer journey. For example, a faulty interactive voice response (IVR) prompt in the contact center could cause customers to terminate their calls at that particular juncture in the IVR. In reports, this would be illustrated by a shift in traffic flow from the IVR to other channels, like email. Being armed with real-time reporting hastens the speed of resolutions because businesses can more easily determine the best course of action for addressing the misstep. In this case, the contact center can quickly determine that the offender is most likely at the drop-off point for a lot of its calls, i.e. the faulty IVR prompt.
While a disjointed customer experience can be poisonous, a connected customer experience causes a myriad of long-lasting positives on businesses’ customer satisfaction and bottom line.
- Customers are constantly evaluating whether they should stay with or leave their brands; many will leave after a single poor service experience. An exceptionally effortless and efficient customer experience will differentiate brands from their competitors, increasing customer loyalty and cementing a brand’s spot in the marketplace.
- A seamless service environment means that every agent and technology has the necessary real-time context to solve customer inquiries in the first contact. First Contact Resolution typically leads to higher agent satisfaction, Net Promoter Scores and brand loyalty.
- The valuable highly-satisfied or “connected” customer segment spends more per transaction and shops more frequently than other customers. Businesses can nurture relationships with connected customers via social media, email marketing, text and every other service channel; they welcome brand communications, promotions and product launches and are more likely to promote to their social networks.
- Optimizing self-service channels like the IVR and website will reduce the popularity of live agents. When self-service consistently resolves inquiries in the first contact, operating costs dip dramatically. Eventually, customers will opt into the cheaper-to-operate, self-service options for their ease of use and efficiency.
- With omni-channel customer context, agents have all of the real-time information they need to serve and please their customers, meaning fewer escalated contacts and higher agent satisfaction. Supervisors can see areas of improvement and respond with better triage systems, agent tools and training.
Businesses must understand that customer service expectations have evolved with the accessibility of data and technology. Customers are becoming more and more discerning, so eliminating their frustrating experiences is paramount. Connected service channels and reporting is the new baseline and the sooner businesses meet this standard, the sooner they can solidify customer relationships and outperform competitors.
This Aceyus blog post was co-authored by Jacob Britt, Senior Manager of Business Development; Kortney Parkman, Marketing Specialist; and Jennifer Griffin, HR Manager.