By Simon Verzijl
By 2020, your customers will manage 85 percent of their brand relationships without interacting with a human – automation will dominate the customer experience. As a result call volumes will stagnate while digital interactions boom.
This leaves you to answer a potentially unsettling question about your company’s contact center: Does it satisfy and delight your customers, or does it incite disgruntled, unprofitable behavior? If your customer care structure follows the blueprint of the siloed support department anchored by a contact center with peripheral digital support portals, your unfortunate answer will be the latter.
Call centers are at the heart of a delicate equilibrium where they must satisfy both customer requests and operational performance indicators.
Cost is not always relevant
Today’s contact center environments are under extreme cost scrutiny; “the cheaper, the better” puts call center agents under pressure to handle customer issues with increasing brevity.
This is at odds with customer expectations; quicker, smarter support anywhere, anytime. Thanks to digital self-service, this equation sees call volumes fall with better customer care; forcing a new way of understanding the value, and cost, of the contact center.
For some, the question of support costs has presented an opportunity to innovate- such as U.K. mobile network operator EE’s queue-jumping initiative. The lesson: catering to customer expectations doesn’t necessarily mean inflated support costs.
The customer interaction opportunity - are you making the most of yours? http://ctt.ec/7niB_+ #HiTech #custserv
The next frontier of differentiation
Differentiated customer care is emerging as a necessity. Here’s what I mean:
Aspirational high tech and lifestyle offerings create an expectation of over-and-above customer care. However, customer care policies and standards have created homogeny between competitors. With the customer experience unvarying across industries, price can emerge as a key differentiator.
This is a big problem because, when a customer chooses your brand based on price, your customer relationship is built on shaky foundations. While creating an excellent customer experience is a complex process, it is a proven path to differentiation. No one wants to be treated in a “standard” fashion, least of all paying customers.
Self-serve portals cannot instinctively go off-script to delight your customers, and — if left unchecked — tomorrow’s support could harbor further homogeny between service experiences. The solution is a “seats and software” outlook on customer care. Here, automated support learns from your agents’ best practices, and agents are empowered to pursue only one performance indicator: customer satisfaction.
How your brand chooses to execute this will define your differentiated customer experience. Customer care is increasingly no longer just an avenue to fulfil a need, but an opportunity to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Human relationships are not identical, brand relationships shouldn’t be either.
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