In a world of swift political, economic, and technological changes, the preferences, expectations, values, and beliefs of customers are changing rapidly as well. This requires organizations that want to increase customer satisfaction to listen and be nimble when it comes to adapting to those customers' evolving needs.
To satisfy customers, organizations have to provide consistent customer experience across different channels, and pick and choose the preferred channels for customer interactions. They should look at different approaches to provide customers with a compelling experience by digging deeper into customer communications and gathering customer intelligence. Contact centers have the ability to do this digging and provide actionable insights across products, processes, channels, and agent productivity.
A good way to begin is with the dissatisfied customer. Complaints made by dissatisfied customers should not be considered a negative sign, but rather an opportunity to improve service delivery and overall customer experience. Organizations should employ speech and text analytics to dig deeper into complaints to get actionable insights, and plan to improve these customer service parameters to deliver a compelling customer experience. By doing so, organizations can convert dissatisfaction to satisfaction.
Delighting customers is becoming increasingly harder as their perceptions about when and how products and services should be delivered continue to change. Always-on Internet connectivity, the rising popularity of smart mobile devices, and the social media explosion mean that customers are always on the move while staying connected over various channels. These "new-gen" customers expect on-the-move service over the channels of their preference, quickly and accurately. Keeping customers happy results in repeat sales, positive brand image, and high-quality customer referrals—all prized in a world where technological advances have leveled the field for all players.
Today's most successful companies are the ones that have proactive, strategic approaches for providing customer service, taking into account the changes in customer preferences. This has helped customer contact centers emerge as important strategic assets that will not only improve a company's image but also its customer relationships.
Customers' perceptions of their interactions with a service company are influenced by their service delivery experience. Increasingly, organizations are finding that providing a consistent, relevant customer experience across various channels can raise customer loyalty, reduce costs, and improve margins. For this, they need to customize experiences for individuals, interact with them on the channels of their preference, prioritize customer segments, act on customer feedback, and empower frontline employees.
For smart organizations, a contact center is about more than just being a cost center. Many business executives now see customer service as a strategic source of differentiation in a world flattened by technology. Contact centers have transitioned to become strategic partners as they collect, analyze, and share the insights drawn from voice of customer information throughout the organization.
Delivering customer satisfaction builds credibility and trust and, in turn, leads to customer loyalty. It can also result in marketing referrals, which can generate more revenue than any amount of marketing spend. It also helps enterprises efficiently manage their marketing and sales budgets, as retaining existing customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones.
Contact centers enjoy an edge since they have access to data generated from customer interactions and mining, which can give actionable insights on products, channels, and agents. Contact centers become strategic partners when they supply such real-time insights to organizations, enabling important business and operational decisions.
Leveraging Customer Insights
The customer intelligence generated by a contact center can be used in various ways: for making strategic decisions, creating new product designs, making marketing decisions, projecting profitability, and data provisioning. The contact center itself needs customer insights in order to present a unified customer interaction experience. Using such insights, customer service partners can also leverage unified communication tools to involve the enterprise's larger workforce in the customer service process.
For a contact center, the key to transforming itself into a profit- and loyalty-oriented operation is its ability to generate and act on such customer intelligence. While listening to complaints in a contact center can be a painful experience, it can also provide a unique window of opportunity to understand where and on which parameters the company is falling short.
Research suggests that 50 percent of customers won't complain at the point of customer service, and very few will escalate to the corporate level. Hence, if customers are complaining at contact centers, that should be considered a positive sign. Organizations should dig deeply through speech and text analytics to find the real reasons for customer dissatisfaction before their customers decamp for competitors. Based on these customer communications, meaningful insights can be derived to improve customer service as well as other business parameters, including product features and delivery.
Tim Smith is senior vice president for Firstsource Solutions. He is responsible for leading the business development initiatives of the organization, including the development and implementation of the company's client retention and account management strategies.