Photo: Jagannath Narendran.
Imagine you're a customer and you're having problems with your favourite gadget. What do you do? Do you, as you would have in the past, give their customer support hotline a call and wait to speak with an operator to find a solution to your problem? Or do you find alternative means of contacting your gadget's maker—perhaps by dropping them an email, leaving a comment on their Facebook page or even sending a tweet.
Whichever option you settle for, the reality is that customer service has evolved from what it used to be as little as five years ago, where the primary point of contact between a brand and a customer was the support hotline.
Today customers demand high quality service wherever they want, whenever they need it, and through platforms that are most convenient for them. Advances in mobile communications and technology has made available an array of new communication tools, devices, and channels that are changing the way customers are interacting with brands—from the traditional support hotlines to newer means like emails, text messages, and social media. When customers do not receive satisfactory service, they do not hesitate to air their grievances online, where word-of-mouth is a crucial element towards determining a brand's reputation.
Differentiated customer experience
So how do companies tackle the demands from customers who are always connected to the Internet, demanding instant responses to their queries and problems? Many businesses are addressing this by expanding their presence across multiple channels in order to create an omni-channel customer experience. Having an omni-channel presence means being able to interact with customers and address their issues seamlessly and consistently across every channel and touch point, resulting in a superior experience for the customer, which drives advocacy and repeat business.
In reality, one of the biggest gripes many customers have is that often brands do not have the latest, up-to-date information about them and their interaction history on their database, due to the increasing levels of omni-channel communication. This often results in customers having to repeat themselves about the same issue to different contact centre agents without finding any helpful resolution to their problems.
Recently, Aspect Software conducted a study in the US where 58 percent of the respondents said their expectations are shockingly low when it comes to the service level they expect from contact centres, as a result of the above.
The first step to providing a differentiated customer experience is to ensure every agent has an updated database of customers on hand; when the customer calls, tweets, writes a Facebook post, or emails, contact centre agents should be able to address the outstanding issues and problems the customer has, instead of restarting the conversation from scratch. Another important area where brands need to focus on is the quality of interaction and service provided by contact centre agents as personal touch is an important element of customer service.
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