A positive Customer Experience depends upon a few critical elements. Having a streamlined Customer Journey process in place to effectively segment and route customer inquiries, to staff members (agents) that are best skilled and equipped to render the appropriate service or support, the first time. This results in an outcome (resolution) that should require little Customer Effort.
Sounds easy enough, yet businesses continue to struggle in making it easy for customers to conduct business with their organization.
The belief that having someone… anyone… partially skilled to answer a customer call was sufficient enough, is the new recipe for churn.
Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010. But while 80% of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” only 8% of customers agree. In other words, companies have a long way to go. And, that means there is tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor or gain market share in an industry. Shep Hyken – Forbes
For customers, the reasons really don’t matter. If it is deemed cumbersome and the Customer Effort is HIGH, the Customer Experience will be low, which of course can easily erode Loyalty and your revenue suffers. Customers want answers fast and in the most efficient way. That’s the American Way!
What’s driving the rate of change with respect to incorporating a Cloud Contact Center with an emphasis on Customer Experience (CX) within organizations today?
Some of the most common responses from speaking with Customers and channel partners over the past 3 years include: Business Growth by means of Customer Retention, Growth (Upselling/Cross-Selling), Referrals. Reduction of Staff (Agent) Turnover, Leveraging Data Insights to Handle More with effectively Less. Customers are seeking to Monitor/Manage by way of Business Outcomes and not legacy only Metrics.
Some Customer Experience (CX) observations that I think you’ll relate to/with:
A few interesting things.
- It started with the early adopters, before Digital Transformation was a thing.
- Cloud Contact Center initiatives propagated from being a Future IT Project Consideration to a Business Sponsor’s Speed to Market Weapon of Choice
- Digital Transformation continued to surge as top planning initiative amongst executive leadership (CEO/CIO/COO/CFO/RO)
- Speaking of surge, the pandemic (COVID I & II) accelerated the Cloud adoption model and gave most businesses a taste of WFH (Work from Home)
- Schools and Parents learn about Distant / Online Learning really fast!
- A frenzy of UCaaS/CCaaS acquisitions and strategic alliances emerge in the market
- Some of the remaining blue chip hardware centric manufacturers of communication systems (PBX) exited the scene. A few limiting procurement through a subscription-based only model to further attempt to isolate them from future churn
- We witnessed an additional wave or two of acquisitions and strategic alliances amongst Cloud Contact Center Technology (CCaaS) and UCaaS providers. Primary focus to balance and strengthen their portfolio and GTM strategies centered around single-pane of glass (unified applications)
- Work from Home (WFH) adoption continues to grow, as employment of skilled “Available” staff (agents) become harder to source (hire). We’ve learned that Talent demands Tools.
- Logistic Challenges to Supply Pent Up Demand compounded by Inflation makes for some interesting Customer Reviews. The Power of Online Reviews and the Suggested Customer Experiences of others (Good or Bad) impacts the bottom line
- The Battlefield for Customer Loyalty affects ALL Businesses
CX Cliff Notes
Every Business wants Happy Customers and Profitable Growth
Loyalty of these Happy Customers is what drives Profitable Growth
Customer Experience drives Customer Loyalty
So… What Drives the Customer Experience?
Making it EASY and EFFORTLESS for Customers to Conduct Business with You (Customer Effort)
Through Effective Planning to Optimize the Customer Journey
By Enabling Staff / Agents with Appropriate Tools and Relevant Customer Information, that support Personalized Customer Interactions
Via Trained Staff / Agents that can easily Collaborate with Co-workers to Quickly Address Customer Inquires, the First Time.
Customer Effort Score (CES) is a single-item metric that measures how much
effort a customer has to exert to get an issue resolved, a request fulfilled, a product
purchased/returned or a question answered.
So where do customers go to find CX enabled solutions that better meet customer expectations while making their operations more efficient.
Customers typically have several channels when contacting organizations—email, chat, phone and even social media. Despite the choices, research shows that the phone call is still the preferred method of communication.1
A positive customer experience depends on having a streamlined process in place to handle incoming calls. Customers want answers fast and in the most efficient way.
Several common reasons cause a business to either mishandle calls or fail to answer calls altogether. Unexpected or seasonal volume can mean there’s not enough staff to handle the calls. Live agents might not be available after hours. Or perhaps the areas of responsibility of “who handles what” are not clearly defined.
For customers, the reasons really don’t matter. The customer experience suffers if they hear an annoying busy signal, get put on a long hold, or worst of all, get disconnected before their questions can be answered. Luckily, new technology is available to help organizations manage these and other issues while also enabling a more improved and often a more personalized customer experience.
Setting Up Call Queues
Call queues offer a way to handle incoming calls more efficiently. As part of a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution, call queues give the contact center a means to segment and route incoming calls based on information provided, such as reason for the call or priority level.
Specific queue segments can be configured to offer callback options or enable callers to leave messages on a specific voicemail box for after-hours inquiries. Pre-recorded messages can provide general information, including business hours, current outages or promotions. These multiple call queue options help organizations better meet customer expectations while making their operations more efficient.
Intelligent call routing (ICR) is another way of effectively handling incoming calls. These options ensure the right agent answers a customer’s call. Using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, contact centers can optimize the flow of customer interactions. When configured correctly, these systems help boost sales, reduce churn and increase customer satisfaction by making sure interactions are quickly and efficiently routed, handled and reported.
The automated IVRs interact with callers to gather information and route calls to the appropriate recipient. Examples of self-service prompts include:
- Initial greetings and welcome messages
- Options for language preference
- Answers to common questions (hours of operation, location, access to personal account data)
- Choices for customer actions (cancel an appointment, place an order, speak to someone in a specific department)
Giving customers a straight-forward way to address tasks, such as checking an account balance or paying a bill, enables customer self-service without using a live agent. It can also provide customer access to information during off hours, such as personal account data. If a problem or question goes beyond the offered menu options, an IVR system quickly leads the caller to the most relevant agent available, providing more personalized service.
Benefits of Contact Center Automation
Automated contact center systems benefit companies as well as their customers. Improving customer interactions through call queues and IVR, creates more efficient contact center operations, saving time for customers and contact center agents alike. Self-service options help eliminate the frustration of long hold times and enable a company to serve customers after hours and on holidays. Companies won’t miss a customer call, which ultimately help sales and creates a better customer experience benefitting your company as well as your customers.
NEC offers UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE, our cloud-based contact center solution. ENGAGE uses IVR to give your customers options on how they want issues to be resolved and enables them to obtain the right information or to engage with the right agent for a personalized experience. What makes UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE different from other offerings is that configuration and deployment is simple. Using the user-friendly and intuitive wizard, Easy-IVR gives organizations the power to build highly customized IVRs that drive business and improve customer interactions. Non-programmers can either build an IVR or enhance an existing one through simple, easy steps.
To learn more about NEC’s contact center offerings, fill out the Contact Us form below or visit our website .
“40 Customer Service Stats to Know in 2021,” Swetha Amaresan, HubSpot, 6/9/21
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