Shopper Experience: 13 is the lucky number to improving customer service and experience
Author: Paul Selby
Source: Customer Think
An estimated 10 percent of the U.S. population consider the number 13 to be unlucky. Not limited to the U.S., many countries around the world also consider 13 a bad omen.
Clearly, the number 13 has a bad reputation. But there are exceptions. One is the baker’s dozen (who wouldn’t want an extra donut?). The second is this list, identifying 13 ways to improve customer service delivery while also improving the customer experience.
- Build and maintain a customer-centric culture – This is the starting point, because everything that follows will be challenging or impossible if an organization fails to put the customer first. While taking charge of customer issues is in customer service’s realm, assistance is required from other teams to address the underlying problem (and not just provide a workaround). A poor customer experience–be it product quality, billing problems, or other issues–isn’t the fault of customer service and must be everyone’s concern.
- Utilize a customer service platform – To connect teams and reinforce the customer-centric culture, a means of shared visibility into customers and their issues is required. Standard customer service processes such as case management and SLA management must be included, but workflow permitting escalation, ongoing communication, and accountability between customer service and other departments are necessary to support the customer-centric culture.
- Permanently resolve issues – Workarounds to customer problems aren’t lasting solutions. With a customer-centric culture and a customer service platform in place, issues raised to customer service by customers can be assigned to and resolved by other departments. Product and service quality issues can be routed to manufacturing and engineering. Billing problems are directed to finance. Rather than answer the problem repeatedly, core issues can be identified and permanently fixed so they do not recur, improving the overall customer experience.
- Simplify engagement – Customers have different communication preferences and aren’t always available when agents are. Customer service must offer omnichannel, mobile-friendly contact options.
- Invest in knowledge – A well-curated library–demonstrated by development and maintenance of current material and the retirement of obsolete solutions–assists both customers and agents. Other service channels like chatbots can also tap into knowledge management to provide answers.
- Empower agents with strong service tools – Despite ongoing advancements in automation, self-service, and machine learning, the most important resource in the service center continues to be its agents. Provide them with efficient case management as well as capabilities powered by machine learning that suggest potential relevant knowledge articles, community solutions, and closed cases. When an agent solves a new issue, make it easy for them to submit the solution as a new knowledge management article.
- Check-in with customers – Periodically survey customers to collect their feedback. CSAT and NPS are common quality measures. Always value their time with short, succinct surveys and offer an incentive for completion.
- Offer self-service – Customers are pressed for time, so it’s no surprise they demand it. Modern customer service platforms offer a collection of self-service capabilities, including knowledge management, online communities, virtual agents (chatbots), and automated solutions powered by workflow.
- Map the customer service journey – Customer service processes aren’t always on the straightest, most direct course. Regularly map out the intended path and adjust accordingly. Then, regularly reimagine journeys as changes in processes and new technology can create new opportunities.
- Secret shop – Test that customer service journeys are working by using third-party secret shoppers. Work colleagues outside customer service, friends, and even family make excellent evaluators who will pick up on gaps.
- Leverage machine learning – 89% of CIOs report they either currently use or plan to use machine learning across the business. Modern customer service platforms utilize machine learning to automate case categorization, prioritization, and assignment and to suggest potential solutions as agents work on cases.
- Solve problems proactively – Problems rarely affect only a few customers. Rather than stand by and provide reactive service, preempt customers contacting customer service. By collecting and maintaining information on customers, similar customers can be easily grouped. Then, when problems occur, only likely-affected customers can be quickly identified, notified of the problem, and provided with a solution when available. Proactive service offers two great benefits: it raises the bar on service in the customer’s eyes and prevents high volumes of calls, emails, chats, and more when there is a problem.
- Stay agile – Customer service is a dynamic space. Customer expectations continue to rise and they compare companies’ service. Technology continues to offer new and more efficient means of servicing them. Changes in other business processes also impact customer service. Customer service leaders must stay vigilant for ways to improve and optimize service delivery and respond quickly to new opportunities.
Remarkable, memorable customer service doesn’t come from luck. No, it requires constant attention and ongoing work to drive steady improvement.
Improve your fortune. Continued focus on the 13 areas above will make it possible to not only deliver amazing customer service, but to also strengthen the overall customer experience.