Proactive care lessens contact center burdens and increases customer loyalty.
Posted Oct 18, 2004
Customer care and retention is at the core of any successful business. The contact center has become more ingrained in the strategic initiatives of business, requiring more innovative thinking to provide a level of service that not only puts out the fires of customer dissatisfaction, but increases levels of customer contentment.
Innovative businesses are looking to mitigate inbound call traffic by attacking the problem at its root, reaching out to customers before they have a chance to become frustrated and dissatisfied incoming callers. Results from these innovators show that proactive communications alleviates the need for customers to interact with inbound voice systems that often lead to greater frustration.
Contact centers are taking steps to adopt proactive outbound communication services to deliver customer welcome calls, payment reminders, new service/upgrade information, and other personalized touches. By proactively making contact at each step in the customer relationship life cycle, businesses can diffuse potentially frustrating situations.
Getting proactive--information you can use
Based on the call center best practices developed over the past 10 years, businesses know that once a customer calls into a contact center, they prefer talking with a live person. But what if customers had no reason to call the business in the first place? What if the customers controlled how they were communicated with?
Using outbound campaigns to provide customers with the relevant information that they need and want has deflected inbound calls. For example:
Telecommunications companies can notify customers if they are approaching usage thresholds offering alternative minutes plans; warning them of service disruptions; providing information on account balances and options to pay by credit card or to bridge them to an agent; and welcoming new customers and verifying plan type and contact information.
Financial services organizations can proactively keep borrowers notified on loan status; notify customers when they approach/exceed spending limits; and integrate with fraud detection systems to alert customers when suspicious activity occurs.
Insurers can speed up the claims settlement process by notifying customers on settlement status; inform them of policy and rate changes; make them aware of missing paperwork; alert them to new service offerings.
Utilities can notify customers of overdue account balances; alert critical care facilities of impending outages; and inform customers of rate changes or confirm service appointments.
Enterprises need to recognize that the path to profitability often lies in maintaining and strengthening the business relationships with customers. Customers place significant value on the quality and speed of interactions. When these standards are not met, customer frustration results--a step towards losing that piece of business.
Organizations can combat customer frustration by implementing proactive communications business practices designed to preempt inbound calls and increase the level of customer care. The innovative customer care professionals are not only delivering information, but are helping their customers actually complete transactions--pay bills, resolve errors in paperwork, make decisions, etc.
Innovative new practices such as proactive care will become increasingly valuable to those organizations that take the time to study their customer needs, develop new approaches to care, and pilot new technologies that improve customer satisfaction.
About the Author
Ben Levitan fills the role of president and chief executive officer at EnvoyWorldWide, driving corporate growth and strategy. Prior to joining EnvoyWorldWide, Mr. Levitan was chief operating officer at Viant Corporation (NASDAQ:VIAN), where he led the Internet services firm to unprecedented growth. Mr. Levitan currently serves on the board of directors of Primavera Systems, and is a member of the Council on Competitiveness and Young Presidents' Organization. Mr. Levitan was educated at Union College and the London School of Economics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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