VoiceSage’s John Duffy points out that while proactive technologies are great enablers, it’s the human touch that will always make the difference
Today’s Joe Public – and Joan Citizen – have high expectations when it comes to engaging with brands and organisations. And as a result, every UK organisation has to align the way it engages with customers to the way they expect to be engaged with.
And that’s as true for the local Town Hall or NHS Trust as it is for a credit provider or retailer. This is an across-the-board demand that contact centre professionals are in the spotlight to deliver.
We know this as we recently engaged with practitioners at an industry expo. At the conference we captured some best practice on the challenge of, ’What’s the best way of responding to customer demands?’
What emerged loud and clear is that there is an opportunity to be more sophisticated about how the sector manages customer interactions. As John Duffy, Enterprise Sales Consultant at VoiceSage, points out, “If you can capture and mine detailed information about when different types of contact work best – i.e., through which channels, at what times and in what context, such as type of contact and the age and profile of recipient – brands can maximise the results of their interactions.”
Knowing the customer is critical in terms of developing an engagement strategy. And having access to previous conversations, across any channel, is a critical first step here. As Jason Knowles, Customer Journey Manager at Express Gifts, says: “There’s a lot of effort we need to put in to help customers, as our agents can’t always see the full history of the previous conversation.
“The customer ends up having to repeat things to us – which frustrates them, as they have high expectations that if they’ve told us something, we should already know about it.”
And this is as true for customers of public services as much as commercial ones. Take Dawn Crewe, Head of Customer Services, Elmbridge Borough Council, who told us how outreach doesn’t always have to be the super-sophisticated to be effective, but you can’t afford not to have it:
“People are demanding, yes, but what we’ve learned is that if you operate transparently, so they can see what you can do and what you can’t do, then they quickly end up being very supportive.
“They know [a local council] is not an Amazon; they just want the best you can do, so long as they are sure that’s what you’re actually delivering.”
It’s really important to put all this in the right context – tech alone won’t solve your issues, you always have to provide service with a human face. According to Steve Hurst, Editorial Director, Engage Business Media, for all the importance of new technologies, the customer must always remain at the heart of activities.
“Even if you are Amazon, it’s still your people that deliver your service, and a lot of organisations aren’t getting that, still,” he states.
“Our greatest issue as a sector, I am convinced, is linking our people to the customers in the right way.
“Without that link, all of the technology in the world won’t help you.”
To listen to Steve’s, Dawn’s and our other colleagues discussing these important issues, go to VoiceSage Ltd’s YouTube channel
The author is Enterprise Consultant at VoiceSage [www.voicesage.com], a provider of customer outreach technologies
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