Customer Service is the Final Competitive Frontier in Business
The customer experience is shaping up to be the biggest and most important competitive differentiator for businesses moving forward. A technology world that has leveled the playing field on price, feature set and other traditional advantages and is giving way to a software- and services-oriented economy means that customer service is virtually the final frontier for businesses.
The growing voice and economic power of millennials combined with trends in mobility, the cloud and portability among devices are giving rise to an omni-channel approach to customer service and communications. Customer satisfaction is of primary importance and call centers are scrambling to figure out how to provide the most engaging and satisfactory customer interactions possible. One of the best ways to do this is to take a giant step backward and collect data on customers and analyze it to figure out where the weak points are and which areas require improvement.
One of the best ways to do this is through customer feedback surveys, a popular tool already in widespread use. But not every customer will take the time to respond to a survey and so social media, email messages, phone calls and in-person feedback should be aggregated and tracked to gauge customer satisfaction. After analyzing all the data and pinpointing the top areas of dissatisfaction, businesses and contact centers can form a game plan to address the issues and deliver a better level of service – consistently.
Of course, call and contact center agents are the front line for omni-channel customer service and choosing the right people for the job, and ensuring they are well trained and coached, is vital to success. Agents obviously need to be clear communicators, and in the omni-channel service world, that means they must possess good verbal and written skills as well as social media/online messaging savvy. They should also possess knowledge and expertise on the products and services they are working with as well as exhibit patience and attentiveness toward customer needs and complaints.
Agents should also be autonomous in terms of managing their own time and seeking out ways to boost their own productivity. And they should be able to determine when a situation needs to be escalated to someone with more expertise and authority, before customers become dissatisfied. An ideal customer service rep will also be open and willing to train throughout their career to ensure they are providing the best level of service and are knowledgeable about new technologies, channels and products and services.
Finally, in order to provide the best customer experiences and interactions possible in the omni-channel world, call centers need to have cohesive goals and metrics for attaining them. Agents and managers need to embrace the company culture and integrate that into their approach and style since they are the front line of the entire corporate image. Consequently, employees need to be better trained and skilled to fulfill what is becoming a complex and vital role for any business.
Customer service is indeed the final frontier for businesses that wish to survive in the competitive, omni-channel business economy. Ensuring the best customer experience and engagement levels possible is the key to success, and should be a priority for today’s call center agents and managers.
Edited by Alicia Young