Reinforce Your Brand in the Contact Center
I say, "Absolutely. Positively." You say?
Your brand identifies your organization and is made tangible through every customer interaction. Because your contact center is frequently the primary point of customer interaction, it is in a unique and powerful position to build and reinforce your company's brand.
It's always possible to differentiate brand. Take FedEx, for example. Fundamentally, it does the same thing as UPS. FedEx, however, decided to own the term overnight, even though the company provides ground-shipping service just as capably as overnight shipments. When people need to ship overnight, they now tend to think FedEx. Just because there are competitors in your market space providing essentially the same products or services, you can still develop your own distinctive and powerful brand identity by highlighting what you do best.
The venue to reinforce the brand day in and day out, customer interaction by customer interaction, is the contact center. The contact center delivers your brand promise in two ways: through the people who work in the contact center and through the technology that supports contact center operations.
PEOPLE COMMUNICATE THE BRAND
Contact center employees are on the frontlines of communicating your brand. To achieve focus on the brand, use the agent training program to include information on the company's approach to conducting business, its differentiators against your competitors, and its branding strategy. After initial training don't forget that things change--share the changes.
Keep agents updated regarding the company, the competition, and the brand so they can effectively communicate any changes during their customer interactions. By arming your employees with this information they can make the decisions you would want them to make. An August 2003 Gartner report titled "Services Brand's Unique Role in Setting Customer Expectations," concluded "operationalizing the brand is the most critical thing a service provider can do."
Set up assessment and rewards programs that recognize proper support of the branding strategy with day-to-day contact center performance. Through the use of monitoring applications, catch your employees personifying brand values in their interactions with the customer.
TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTS THE BRAND
Surveys reveal that customers are five times more likely to leave a company because due to poor experience than as a result of product quality or price. With marketing efforts driving customers to the contact center, it is important for customers to feel that their interactions are fast, easy, personalized and courteous. Technology can help ensure that customers receive the highest levels of service by directing calls to the right agents, implementing communications channel consistency, and transferring customer information with each call.
When customers call, they want something. Be sure to connect them with the agent that can give them what they want. Routing rules should identify customers and direct the call to the agent best equipped to provide personalized service, leading to first call resolution. " First call resolution is the number one ingredient of stellar service," according to a Forrester report titled "Trends Driving Contact Center Transformation."
Organizations need to handle each customer interaction consistently--whether via phone, email, chat, mail, or fax. To do so requires a universal queue that equally considers all the channels through which a customer can communicate with you. Then, technologies like screen prompts and conversation scripting tools can ensure that every customer interaction meets quality standards and reinforces brand messages.
Don't make customers repeat themselves. Transferring customer information with each call keeps customers from having to repeat account numbers or even the purpose of the call. Don't forget to give your agents access to the latest products and services information, promotions, and customer information, and give agents the ability to update that customer information on the fly.
BRANDING YOUR CONTACT CENTER
Branding is hard work, but worth it. A well-developed and reinforced brand contributes directly to real business value. That value represents itself in higher stock prices, greater gross margins, and bottom line savings.
With the right people and the right technology in place, you can deliver the right kind of customer experience----an experience that delivers your brand promise. Absolutely. Positively.
About the Author
Michael Sheridan is vice president of strategy for Concerto Software, charged with making sure the company's technology and services accurately and distinctively meet market needs, both today and for the future. With 20 years of experience in telecommunications and high-tech industries, Mike serves as Concerto Software's consummate product strategist, with a critical eye for identifying emerging markets and a knack for defining solutions to serve them. Mike most recently held the position of director of global strategy and marketing at Rockwell FirstPoint Contact. He has also held sales management positions at Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories. He worked at Hewlett-Packard for 13 years in a variety of sales, customer service, and IT roles. www.concerto.com
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