One of the most interesting findings to come from Ultracomms’ recent independent research “It’s still good to talk” is how stark the contrast customer preferences are between voice and other channels of communication amongst consumers today.
It’s a challenge I face daily in talking through solutions with clients embarking on a sometimes radical shake up of their customer ‘journey’, or more often than not, in simply taking a few steps further toward an overarching objective of improvement without increasing costs. Taking those tentative steps, knowing that ‘what we have just isn’t fit for purpose’ can be daunting.
Many years ago, when I advised businesses on their outsourcing requirements and acted as vendor manager to oversee the successful implementation, my job was to get deep in the weeds, forensically picking over the interactions that made up a typical customer experience at the hands of said organisation. Without giving away my age, let me just say in the early days, omnichannel was still a twinkle in a developer’s eye.
But the challenges were the same; how best to make meaningful contacts, timing the interaction to perfection whereby the customer is at ease, prepared to listen and satisfied with the outcome. Whether selling, advising, ‘non’-advising (one for the insurance geeks there), booking an appointment that will be kept or solving a service issue, each effort made to connect was measured against the ultimate cost to service that customer.
Fast forward fifteen years and the same challenge remains but today the ability to mix channels, schedule contacts and use channels that fit a busy consumer’s day are a simple click away. Integrating the communications to push or pull data to/from a client’s CRM are a given, meaning customers need not receive misplaced calls repeating requests already made or answered by another part of the business.
The groundwork still needs to be done however. Getting ‘down and dirty’ in the contact centre, mapping the customer journey in its imperfect state has to be done if you are to build a solution that will elevate the experience and improve the customer satisfaction. A measure of what is broken to start with is invaluable and needs to based on some solid research. Listening to customer feedback starts with asking them how you can do better.
Automation in all its forms doesn’t always equal satisfaction. Which is why it may still be good to talk after all. Consider in your own company, the most valuable conversations in both commercial and customer wellbeing terms. Test and learn from your contact strategies because one size doesn’t fit all and above all, work with a technology provider who is sympathetic to a flexible approach without breaking the bank. You might just surprise yourself and ‘delight’ those all-important and valuable customers.
*Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepson, 2012 School Boy/Interscope Records
Chief Operating Officer, Ultracomms