In the business world, we hear the word integrationall the time – integration of processes, of technology, of people. But when thinking about the word integration, what does it really mean? Is it just a buzzword, or is there something behind it?
Well when it comes to customer service, integration is the Holy Grail. But the key to this so-called integration imperative is getting past the jargon and to the real factors behind connecting people, processes and technology to improve the customer experience.
In today’s customer service landscape, bringing together the growing number of channels available for the consumer to interact with a company is essential. From social and mobile to chat and phone, consumers are more in the driver’s seat of the customer-company relationship than ever, and brands must keep pace by offering service on all channels, making sure that service works seamlessly from one to the next, and ensuring the experience across all channels is consistent.
Seamless transition from channel to channel is what’s commonly referred to as omnichannel. To retailers, omnichannel means one thing, but in the customer service world, it means the data, the information, the experience should move from one channel to another with no disconnects, no asks to repeat your information, no hiccups.
Unifying technology is also essential to get your front of house and back office working in tandem. Take an airline or hotel contact center for example – the technology that tells you that summer is a high consumer traffic time should also tell you the appropriate number of staff members with the specific skill sets necessary to handle that influx. And it should provide data that allows for teaching moments with agents based on their interactions.
What your customers do, see and experience should be closely tied to how the workforce is managed, from scheduling and skills-based forecasting to performance management.
Lastly, connecting people – that is, getting everyone in your organization on the same page when it comes to the customer experience – is paramount to delivering a seamless, omnichannel experience. For example, during a customer service interaction, contact center agents should be able to easily bring appropriate people from other departments into the conversation to resolve the customer’s issues.
And each time your company interacts with a customer, there is valuable data to be collected and used to your business’ advantage. But that data can only work for you if you use it effectively across departments rather than keeping different employees from different departments in siloes. Customer service representatives should interact with product managers (to influence product roadmaps), who should be on the same page as marketing executives (to develop targeted marketing plans), and the list goes on. This results in ultimately driving overall business planning and objectives based on customer input.
The consumer experience has become increasingly important as brands battle in a market where attracting and retaining customers is tougher than ever. For a successful customer service operation, and frankly a successful business, a company’s people, processes and technologies must work as one unit. It’s easy to say that these things need to be integrated, but getting past using the word integration for integration’s sake and identifying what it really means to your business is where the real success lies.
Chris Koziol is president and general manager, interaction management, at Aspect (News - Alert) Software (www.aspect.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi