Call Center Week 2016 – Trends & Observations
A few weeks ago we participated in Call Center Week 2016 and now that I’m back in the office I wanted to reflect a bit on a couple of the themes and industry trends I noticed while at the event.
Omnichannel – By this point we’ve all heard the term Omnichannel so it’s no surprise it was a top theme at the conference. What was surprising is people’s perception of the term. The consensus seems to be that not everyone is 100% sure what it actually means in practice and there are a myriad of ways to interpret it. Here’s what I heard from talking to people throughout the event:
- There is a perception that Omnichannel is ideal for the customer experience but is often cost & resource prohibitive.
- Everyone seems to be struggling with data integration across all channels, which makes that Omnichannel experience feel unattainable.
- Many managers really dislike social media as a channel, but are incorporating it into their repertoire in hopes that it will help them achieve an Omnichannel feel.
Given the amount of hype around Omnichannel, we plan to spend some more time on the topic in a separate blog post in hopes to address some of the misconceptions and perceptions mentioned above. In the interim you can check out this webinar that addresses how to get to the Omnichannel future with the technology you already have.
Reduced Customer Effort – This may seem like an obvious topic at an event like Call Center Week, but what struck me was the amount of focus on lowering effort versus adding channels. It felt a little contradictory to the whole Omnichannel focus mentioned above, but most important to the customer experience is low effort communication that allows customers to accomplish goals. Customers are willing to use whatever channel is available as long as it’s best-of-breed and can efficiently get the job done. Keynote speaker Matt Dixon, author of The Effortless Experience, offered up these statistics:
- 16% of customers value choice over ease. Was the issue resolved in the preferred channel?
- 84% of customers prefer ease over choice. Could a customer obtain a fast resolution without bouncing from channel to channel?
The key takeaway for me here was that we can spend a bunch of time trying to implement an Omnichannel platform, but if the channels in play aren’t effective, then it’s a useless effort.
When Customer Service Matters the Most –There’s always been an assumption that customer service is most important post-purchase. But in truth, the typical customer continues to evolve along with the growing number of channels that companies offer. Mentioned in multiple sessions I attended is the notion that exceptional customer service is now mandatory throughout the entire customer journey. From initial conversations through post-transaction follow-ups, there needs to be consistency with the customer experience. This affects multiple areas within the cycle:
- Brand Reputation and Awareness – Keep your brand visible and build trust. Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for and make it easy for them to reach you on their terms.
- Personalization – Maintain accurate historical data on your customers and use it to proactively address them. As you iterate towards better technology and processes, you’ll eventually be able to maintain the data across channels, giving customers the info they need before they know they need it.
- Ongoing Support – People fear that once their purchase is completed, that’s the last time they’ll hear from a brand. Unfortunately, it’s a fear because it’s a common occurrence. It’s essential to spend significant time nurturing the customer relationship in the same way you would nurture a prospect. A happy customer is priceless and will be your #1 promoter and lead generator. And while a happy customer can become a long-term advocate and source of revenue, an unhappy customer can have substantial negative impact. Just look at the social media sites of some of the top brands you use and you’ll get a sense for how customer perception can shape the conversation.
Effortless, personal, and reliable – The three words I heard the most, these form the three essentials for an extraordinary customer experience. Does every facet of your customer’s journey allow for an effortless, personal, and reliable experience? Always look at your business from the customer’s perspective and walk through each channel yourself. If you can’t complete a transaction effortlessly then there’s no way your customers can.
There was a lot more to absorb from the event but these were the things that seemed consistent across multiple sessions and conversations. They all lead back to the one thing that we’re all trying to master – a truly effortless customer experience. No matter what industry you’re in, it all leads back to that. If you would like to read more about our take on the effortless experience, you can read this blog: smartaction.ai/the-effortless-experience/.
About the Author:
Kim Snow, Sr. Manager, Marketing Programs
Kim has over 10 years marketing experience specializing in B2B. Passionate about technology and innovation she is dedicated to creating the most relevant and up-to-date industry content.