Technology is one of the biggest drivers of change within any industry and in any niche. In recent years, the way customer service is delivered via contact centres has been changing rapidly, thanks to the increasing adoption of tools, such as ‘live chat’ boxes, and a growing appreciation that great customer service is fantastic marketing.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at some of the latest developments in technology and strategic thinking, which could have an impact on how you deliver customer service in your contact centres. While some of these tools can be applied to your operation with relative ease, others are more about “culture shift” which can take time to become entrenched as standard practice.
Merging Customer Service with Marketing
As technology becomes more sophisticated in almost every area of business, unifying virtually everything from digital marketing and internal communications to supply chain management in increasingly interconnected systems, it stands to reason that customer service and marketing would converge.
With many businesses using social media to promote products and services, and many customers taking to social platforms to seek customer service, these two formerly distinct tasks are now taking place in many of the same areas.
In a digital world, where consumers value recommendation and peer reviews over advertising, it’s clear to see how good customer service (which produces organic likes and shares, and creates brand advocates) has become a valuable form of marketing in its own right.
Put Social Media on the Front Line
Opening up social media as a customer service tool can be a risky business, but it’s also an opportunity for contact centres, and businesses in general, to shine. A very public forum, it’s easy to feel exposed when things go awry, but when things go well, or when a complaint/issue is resolved successfully, it can generate a very positive effect.
Of course, social isn’t the ideal place to handle customer service when dealing with sensitive information, but it can be a great place to initiate the conversation before taking it to a more secure, offline platform.
It can also be trickier to track and measure outcomes and results, while ensuring nothing slips through the net; however, opening this door to customers is a good way to make a business appear more personable and open – with plenty of opportunities to generate positive brand engagement.
Improving Response Times
There are a few new technologies and approaches which might help you attain the holy grail of contact centres – faster response times. From investing in quality knowledge management systems, which allow customer service agents to access information more quickly, to implementing live chat systems and using interaction analytics to create customer behaviour prediction models – more on this later!
SMS and chat apps have been making a huge difference to how customer service is accessed and delivered in recent years. Unlike web chat windows, which are time sensitive and can rush the enquirer (or make them feel pressured into making an immediate response), SMS and chat apps can be used when a customer has a free moment and can be returned to at their leisure. This makes for a far more convenient chat-based alternative, which fits around hectic contemporary lifestyles.
Working out how to create the most effective, streamlined system for this style of customer service is now a work in progress for many businesses.
Embracing Interaction Analytics
If you can anticipate how customers are likely to behave, before they even get in touch with your contact centre, you can better provision the services required to take care of their needs and ensure agents are properly trained, which should result in reduced waiting times and better results.
Using more specialised interaction analytics, such as speech analysis, can also help you improve customer service overall. Monitoring instances of “talk over” and long silences on calls, for example, can flag up problematic interactions and help both businesses and individual agents learn from them to improve service delivery.
The melding of technology, marketing and customer service that we discussed earlier is just one way lines are blurring and services are becoming more unified.
Increasingly, contact centres are merging traditional customer service routes with Instant Messaging, SMS and social media to save time by preventing agents from constantly having to switch between applications. Going “omnichannel” is also important for businesses who want to ensure no customers fall through the cracks, which can be an issue when adopting an array of different customer service channels. The seamless integration of traditional, digital and social channels is key.
How many different routes of communication do you deal with in your contact centre? Would unifying them in one consistent omnichannel experience give your customer service a boost? How are you planning to evolve your business in 2017? Whatever steps you take, ensure your customer data is safe and secure with smart payment solutions from PCI Pal.