In the midst of the rapidly changing dynamics of customer service, a question most companies could ask themselves today is: “Are we really giving our customers what they want?”
A tricky question indeed, primarily because it can invite a variety of answers. While a few may tend to believe they have already given their consumers what they require, several others are frantically realizing the need for more. And there are also some, who beyond this, are completely redefining what they offer to their patrons. A perfect example would be Apple’s recent decision to let go of the headphone jack in iPhone 7. A decision that has received mixed reviews. Exactly how this change will be acknowledged by the consumers is an answer only time can tell. But as a company, Apple has embraced the dominance of wireless interactions and is looking to provide their users a similar experience.
The point here is: “Are we doing the same with our contact centers?” Are we gearing them up to meet with the demands of shifts in technology as well as user preferences? There is no doubt about the fact that customer service equates to business. Yet most companies today find themselves in the rusted approach of customer service that has never changed since the moment they said go. It all started with the need to let your customers know that you are a phone call away (read: toll free numbers). But consumer engagement has grown beyond that. Consumers today are not only expecting you to know when their car breaks down but also to follow it up with proactive messages to fix it. They probably want to talk to the nearest device available to them and book their flight tickets instead of logging onto websites. The Internet of Things is real and is rapidly spreading across the technology space. Indeed, while they have added the painstakingly static mobile apps in phone stores and signed up for social media pages, most companies are still staring at a huge gap in their customer service approach. Meanwhile, a whole new channel has taken the world by storm — The Text. Automated intelligence is the demand of the day, virtual assistants is where the new service story lies and a fraction of sapiens are already exploring channels beyond the realms of reality (read: augmented reality). The key aspect to all of these channels is data and how we use it. What is a more important, is a seamless continuity across them.
In the light of this, what constitutes the mix of the right contact center approach? One that is heading towards a relevant future? Let me list the top three must-haves for any business looking to make a breakthrough in the realm of customer service.
- Embrace new channels: Customers are certainly beyond traditional channels of communication and have embraced the mobile phone as their new companion. Text is clearly the new talk and with the rise of plenty of chat apps (text doesn’t only restrict to the SMS) providing SMS customer service can clearly be a win-win situation for all. In the age where every demand needs an instantaneous answer, disposable/instant apps should be the way forward. These are the next-gen apps that no longer need to occupy memory in your phone space or eat unnecessary background data. The right investment for any business would be in a solution that can instantly scale up to any channel with less hassle and low complexity.
- Omni-channel experience: While a presence on various channels is delightful, it would indeed be a failed strategy if there is no consistent consumer experience across these. Proactive consumer engagement is the need of the hour and no business would be ready to do the same if they cannot trace what a customer is doing on one channel that is mandatory to replicate a continuous journey on another. The channels in question here do not really matter as long as there is an omni-channel solution in place that can instantly scale up to new ones and maintain a continuity across them.
- Connect it to your contact center: And finally, it is highly recommended that all these channels do have a connectivity to the contact center and are not working in silos. This will not only help build a great centralized customer engagement center but will also save customers the monotony of repeating the same information each time they reach an agent (irrespective of the channel they come from). It will also help agents become true subject matter experts and improve the overall contact center efficiency.
It is extremely essential that businesses start aligning their contact center strategy with a futuristic vision right away lest they miss the bus and find it difficult to catch up when it’s too late!
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