“Technology will solve all our problems!”
Have you ever caught your customer care team saying that?
From telephone switchboards to chatbots and automation, technology has been weaving its way into customer care for decades. These technologies are changing at a rapid rate, serving as tools to make customer care programs easier, more efficient and more human.
Read: Three Technologies That Will Transform Customer Service
It’s obvious – technology is awesome and vital to the contact center . But leaders need to be careful that they aren’t overlooking two important things: people and process. People and process should be as much of a priority as technology when developing customer-centric strategies.
What We Love Most About Our Home Is…
Your business wouldn’t exist without your people, and your customer care wouldn’t have a “human element” without (you guessed it) humans. That’s why choosing the right people is important.
Hiring brand advocates with the right skill set and cultural fit sets any program up for success. In doing this, companies have been able to achieve more than 99% retention during their program launches. How do they do it? Targeted recruiting and interactive interviews.
Developing specialized recruiting profiles ensure you’re attracting the right team members. Culture Simulation Interviews (CSIs) allow your recruiting team to observe potential candidates in a simulated environment. Focusing on a tight culture fit ensures recruits are passionate and aligned with your mission and values, which will almost always result in lower attrition.
Trust The Process
Most people hate the word “process”. But without it, there would only be chaos. The key is to design processes within your teams that are flexible enough to shift and scale as priorities change.
Let’s use another training example. One part of the training process that should never change is transparent communication with your partners. Be sure to have regular recruiting checkpoints set up, with daily progress updates and contingency plans. This ensures internal and external teams are aligned on key priorities and milestones throughout the implementation.
So, where does flexibility come in for this example? Collaboration with your partners when developing the training curriculum. Keep communication open throughout the process, allowing their feedback and suggestions. The training materials should continue to change and evolve as needed, ensuring they really speak to the brand, culture and products of your partner.
Read: Case Study: Recruiting and Training for Large-Scale Launch
So, you’ve hired the right teams and trainers, and have effective and flexible processes in place. Now it’s time to talk about technology. Make sure you’re asking yourself the important questions: What’s the budget? What are we trying to achieve? What tools fit our brand?
There are so many different technology options for us to choose from. Depending on your program needs, it’s a lot easier to be versatile with the way training materials are delivered. For example, video conferencing tools (such as Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting and Skype) can reduce travel time for trainers, while also acting as the perfect channels to do up-training or introduce a new product launch.
No End In Sight
When it comes to new technology and the digital transformation era we’re in, there’s no end in sight. That’s why treating people, process and technology equally will ensure all three are working cohesively for the greater good of your company’s goals.
From recruiting and training, to creating engaging workspaces, your team members need to feel like an extension of your brand to be empowered to create high-touch, seamless experiences with each customer connection.
We are excited to be hosting our first ever European interactive think tank session at Frost and Sullivan’s 12th Annual Customer Contact Europe in Dublin, Ireland June 11-13, 2018.
Our session, led by Brent Stevenson, SVP of Sales & Marketing, will include key takeaways such as:
Proven ways to empower your team members to go “off script” and personalize the conversation
Insight on how access to personalized data motivates agents to self-manage and drive loyalty to your customers
Guide to leveraging workspaces and environment to provide your team members with the confidence to represent your brand voice through every interaction
Success factors in creating a culture that mirrors your brand in an outsourced environment
In April, 24-7 Intouch will also presenting at Frost and Sullivan’s Customer Contact East at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Florida.
In the customer service world, we use a ton of data to navigate our operations. These metrics don’t just help measure the customer journey and build loyalty, they demonstrate the value of the contact center to your organization. This information can help educate your peers from cross-functional teams and help drive change by fixing systemic issues, or exposing new opportunities to add value for your customers.
Insights can do a lot of powerful things to help deliver on these points. But how do we bring this information to life in a corporate environment, find the right people to take action on it, and help build some measure of importance and relevance around your customer service department?
Be a Teacher’s Pet
It’s important to tie your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help measure and drive your customer experience from the contact center to your overall corporate goals. One way of doing this is to drive the education within your organization and to help your executive and cross-functional teams truly understand what your customers are saying.
Don’t Worry, We Have a Metric For That
We leverage a variety of different metrics and processes to monitor our contact center performance and operations. They make us efficient, accurate and ensure that we’re treating customers well. Service Level, CSAT, Average Handle Time, and Occupancy are just a few of the metrics we focus on.
A huge part of driving change is having a metric or process that fits your brand while representing your customers’ point of view. The metric must measure the customers experience OUTSIDE of just the contact center. A great example is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS also works well because it is widely accepted and understood and helps in building a coalition and delivering impactful information.
How YOU Doin’?
As you can see, you and your call center metrics are a pretty big deal. To gauge where you’re at in this journey of driving change, here are some questions to ask yourself:
What are you doing today to measure and manage customer metrics beyond the contact center (such as NPS, Customer Effort, Contacts Reasons as a % of X, etc)?
How are these seen by leaders of cross-functional areas and your executive team compared to customer service metrics? Similar? More/less valued?
What sources of data are connected to enable your team to analyze the customer journey? (example in retail: ERP, OMS, CRM, shipping data, qualtrics surveys, etc)
What gets your Executives interested in improving the customer experience? How frequent are you engaging them? Is it a scheduled event that happens regularly or ad hoc?
The data available to you is valuable beyond the walls of your contact center.
If you take the time to use it in the right ways, it not only acts as a driving force to improve efficiency and create change within your program, but clearly demonstrates the importance and ROI as a revenue center for your company.
Deanne Harrison, SVP of People & Process at 24-7 Intouch, will be presenting at the 2018 Venture Out Conference in Toronto.
The conference takes place March 15 and 16, 2018 at the MaRS Discovery District.
Venture Out is Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and young professionals interested in careers in tech and entrepreneurship.
Deanne’s session, titled “Using Culture to Scale from Startup to Unicorn” is scheduled for Friday, March 16 at 2:00pm. Key takeaways will include techniques to create a flexible plan that gives voices and channels for people to contribute to the culture conversation, and how to design a scalable strategy that ensures teams grow stronger together.
“A company’s culture is created with input from every team member, regardless of position or relationship,” said Harrison. “I’m excited to explore how culture and diversity best practices can help companies scale, while maintaining what makes their brand unique.”
Deanne graduated with her Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree, majoring in Human Resources Management and Organizational Behaviour. She has over 15 years of HR, Organizational Behaviour and Small Business Management experience in a variety of industries. She also has a CPHR designation and was awarded the Rising Star Award by HRMAM (CPHR Manitoba). Deanne is Chair of the Special Olympics Manitoba Board of Directors and a huge advocate for the LGBTQA+ community.
24-7 Intouch is a Gold Sponsor of the conference, and will also be presenting the Investing in LGBTQ Founders panel on March 15.
About Venture Out
Venture Out is a network of individuals, companies and community organizations. Together, they are building an LGBTQA+ tech and entrepreneurship community, with the goal of creating a more diverse & inclusive future. They highlight LGBTQA+ tech leaders and groundbreaking projects and companies and produce events and conferences, which bring together ideas, and connect early-career professionals to new opportunities and to each other.
In 2017, text messaging was implemented in more than 78% of all contact centers, making it the hot topic channel in the customer service industry. It’s known to effectively drive customer engagement, increase customer satisfaction and positively impact metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Today’s customers are always on-the-go, which is why they expect flexibility and quick answers. OpenMarket found that 83% of Millennials would prefer to text with a brand versus calling a customer service line. Not only that, 77% of Millennials are likely to have a positive perception of a brand that they’re able to text with. Millennials aren’t the only ones that want to connect through texting. 92% of Baby Boomers with smartphones (over the age of 50) have embraced text messaging as their communication channel of choice.
Not only is texting an easy-to-use tool, it’s also really easy to implement. With little effort, brands can use their existing toll-free contact number to launch text messaging. We also can’t ignore that the future of texting is bright with its complex capabilities. Through a simple text conversation, you can buy a pair of shoes, re-book a flight, write a review, or even find out where the nearest gas pump is.
The possibilities are endless…but how can brands ensure that they launch and maintain a successful texting solution?
Talk Strategy To Me
It all starts before the launch. It’s important to figure out your strategic messaging and KPI goals early on in the process. How will your text responses convey your brand voice? Is your goal to respond to your customers in as few characters as possible, or are you more concerned about response criteria such as tone, empathy and education?
Remember to stay flexible with this – your strategy and KPI goals are most likely going to evolve as you experiment with what’s working for your team and your customers after launching.
Short & Sweet
Another best practice is to figure out what text response format makes most sense, based on what your customers are reaching out about and your character count goal. Try to be as realistic as possible when deciding what you want to achieve within your maximum character count. For example, are your customers texting to cancel their subscriptions? If so, does it make sense to send them a copy/paste text message with the entire cancellation policy? Or should you send them a brief summary of the policy with a link to the official document? The latter option gives the customer the gist of the answer immediately, while having the option to take action or ask a clarification question later if needed (all without ever having to leave their mobile device).
Another option is to mirror your customer’s texting habits. If they reach out with a long text, allow your team members to respond with a lengthier response. If the customer writes a short text, empower your team members to send back a short and concise message.
Rolling out text as a new channel can be scary for brands because it’s different than traditional mediums. Take your time! The key is to launch texting methodically, starting with just a small group of team members. Every brand will have their own set of unique challenges to overcome, so as you learn what is working and what isn’t, you can progressively add more team members to the channel. Ironing out the kinks in stages allows everyone to be successful in the long run.
Want to learn more SMS Best Practices? Click here!
There’s no time like right now to start looking into how SMS/texting can help out your brand, especially since it’s going to continue to grow in popularity. Keep in mind that it’s not a replacement for other traditional channels, but instead provides another convenient option for your customers. When it’s implemented strategically, it will definitely impact the overall customer experience in a positive way. So, what are you waiting for?
We understand that leveraging your contact center to drive sales and loyalty is important in proving a positive ROI. Our partners rely on us to hire and train team members for sales-specific interactions, increasing the success of their sales programs and overall retention.
Our experience includes:
WINNIPEG, Manitoba. February 20, 2018 – Jason Rosser, Vice President of Operations at 24-7 Intouch, will be leading an interactive roundtable session at Frost and Sullivan’s 14th Annual Customer Contact Executive MindXchange.
The event takes place April 8-11, 2018 at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Marco Island, Florida.
Rosser’s session, titled ‘Driving Change Beyond the Contact Center’, is scheduled for Monday, April 9 at 1:45pm. Key takeaways will include techniques to drive change by fixing systemic issues and identifying new opportunities to add value to your customer program, and success factors for driving change with customer data.
“In the customer service world, we’re fortunate to have a ton of data at our fingertips, but many brands aren’t using it to drive strategic change beyond their customer service programs,” said Rosser. “I’m excited to collaborate and share my knowledge with the Frost and Sullivan community.”
Prior to joining 24-7 Intouch, Rosser served as Head of Customer Experience Operations at JackThreads and Head of Global Customer Care Operations at Abercrombie & Fitch, where he oversaw the Customer Engagement and fulfillment operations, Net Promoter program, customer insights and multilingual customer care operations.
About 24-7 Intouch
24-7 Intouch is global contact center & technology company that delivers innovative and value-driven customer service solutions across all industries via an omnichannel approach that includes voice, social media management, live chat, email, fraud, UAT, self-service, and back office administration. Using the most advanced technology in the industry, 24-7 Intouch’s customizable customer care platform allows their clients to utilize business insights to deliver lifetime consumer loyalty and increase incremental revenue. With over 18 years of experience, the 24-7 Intouch team takes pride in building a top to bottom brand alignment for partners to create exceptional customer experiences.
About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan enables clients to achieve best-in-class positions and strive to accelerate growth, innovation and leadership in their respective brands. The company’s Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO’s Growth Team with disciplined research and best-practice models to drive the generation, evaluation, and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Their one-of-a-kind Executive MindXchange format leverages mass brainpower. Jam-packed with dynamic networking activities and hands-on content, their programs are over 80% interactive.
There’s no denying that customer service is changing. We’re on the cusp of a revolution in how customer interactions are handled, performed, and tracked. With new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots, things are definitely going to get faster and more efficient.
However, these technologies also present an incredible opportunity to make customer service more natural, authentic, and emotionally intelligent. It seems paradoxical, but these technologies have the potential to make customer service more human.
The future of customer service will see a collaboration between technological efficiency and human soft skills, such as empathy and the ability to garner a customer’s trust. Technology will be a huge asset when it comes to improving AHT and other transactional KPIs, but it’s important to remember that it’s the human side of the interaction that will lead to trust, brand loyalty, and consumer advocacy.
“THE FUTURE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE WILL SEE A COLLABORATION BETWEEN TECHNOLOGICAL EFFICIENCY AND HUMAN SOFT SKILLS SUCH AS EMPATHY.”
Technology will also boost employee engagement and help team members find more meaning in their work. As technology takes over the management of the transactional elements of their work, Customer Service Representatives will have the opportunity to focus more on being brand experts and advocates. Their enthusiasm and knowledge of the brand will come through in their interactions as the more repetitive aspects of their work become automated.
Let’s explore three key technologies that are going to transform customer service.
Artificial Intelligence has played a significant role in the customer service space for years now, and the adoption of these technologies is only going to accelerate. This is due not only to the cost and time savings that come from automation, but also because of the rapidly changing expectations in user experience.
Consumers are embracing the user experience from devices and applications like Apple’s Siri, Google Home, and Amazon’s Alexa. And what’s not to love? Immediate gratification, a seamless, frustration-free interaction, and total convenience… these technologies reward their users with a delightful, almost magical, experience that then becomes associated with the brand.
“FORWARD-THINKING BRANDS WILL LEVERAGE AI AS A MEANS TO STRENGTHEN THE HUMAN CONNECTIONS THEY HAVE WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS AND ENHANCE
THE OVERALL CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE.”
As consumers get accustomed to this kind of user experience from the devices they have at home and in their pockets, they’ll start expecting it from their customer service. The digital user experience will need to be replicated in real world interactions to ensure the brand experience is consistent no matter where it happens. As a result, the integration of AI in the customer service space will become a necessity if these companies hope to have a consistent brand experience.
Forward-thinking brands will look at AI as more than a cost-savings technology. They will leverage AI as a means to strengthen the human connections they have with their customers and enhance the overall service experience.
Customer Service Representatives will be empowered to focus on the human, emotional qualities of the interaction while the AI takes care of the transactional elements.
Augmented Reality (AR) is another technology that integrates a digital experience with a real-world experience. In fact, that’s the technology’s primary purpose. By inserting a layer of digital content on top of the physical world through the use of a headset, glasses, or a mobile device, users are given another way to interact with digital content that’s tied directly to the world around them.
With the success of games like Pokemon Go, and the huge investments companies like Apple and Microsoft are putting into Augmented Reality, it’s no surprise we’re hearing words like “disruptive” and “transformational” when AR is discussed. In fact, TechCrunch predicts that “mobile AR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion VR/AR market by 2021.”
So, how will AR transform customer service? One use case would be to provide “how-to” instructions for physical products or digital applications. In a self-serve model, the customer could draw from a database of AR overlays related to their issue. Instructions would then appear on the customer’s phone or AR device as a graphical overlay, demonstrating all the steps required to fix the issue within the customer’s field of vision as they look at the physical product or digital interface in front of them.
Another intriguing use case for AR would be within the contact center environment itself. Imagine equipping Team Leaders (TLs) with AR devices that could instantly identify where a specific team member is sitting simply by having the TL state the team member’s name.
Now, imagine building in additional Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities that monitor customer calls. TLs would be notified when team members are experiencing a difficult call or a heated conversation. This technology gets TLs out of their seats, interacting and coaching their team members on-demand and in real-time.
This is another example of how a new technology has the potential to humanize our business. AR’s ability to apply a graphical interface to the real-world will empower TLs to focus on building closer relationships with their team.
With all the news about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies lately, blockchain is quickly becoming part of the public lexicon. Unlike AI and AR, blockchain isn’t really a disruptive technology that will replace inefficiencies and integrate with our current models. Rather, it’s a foundational technology that has the potential to create completely new structures for global economic and social systems.
At its core, blockchain is a system that makes a permanent ledger of transactions using sophisticated cryptography. This ledger is distributed across thousands of participating computers, which makes it almost unhackable. Even if a hacker was able to access one unit of the blockchain, any changes they managed to make would be on the public record. This makes blockchain very resilient to fraud, while being independent of a central authority.
So, how will the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies make its way into the customer service space? One valuable use case would be in identity management.
When Customer Service Representatives are hired, we rely on background checks to verify identity. While criminal background checks and calling references to verify past employment are common, the process is flawed and easily “hacked”.
Imagine if all life’s major events, such as graduating high school, obtaining a driver’s license, being arrested, or being fired, were recorded as transactions in a personal blockchain. As creepy as it sounds, this is a possible future application of blockchain technology that has real merit; it has the potential to rewrite the way we manage and verify personal identities.
While blockchain technology isn’t limited to the contact center space, it certainly has the potential to transform how we protect our clients and ensure we’re hiring the best possible people. As a technology, blockchain is currently in the incubation phase, but its implications will soon be widespread, and we would be wise to plan for how it will impact our business and our world.
Embracing the Change
From telephone switchboards in the first half of the twentieth century to chatbots and automation today, technology has been weaving its way into customer service for decades
These changes are happening at an increasingly rapid rate, causing many in our industry to question where we’re headed and how this rise of the machines will impact us. However, there’s no evidence these technologies will replace the human aspect of our businesses; every indication points towards it enhancing our humanity and strengthening brand experiences.
People want to interact with people. These technologies will serve as yet another interface to make that interaction easier, more efficient, and ultimately, more human.
In our partnership with one of the world’s largest sportswear brands, we used a specialized recruiting and training strategy to hire a team that embodied the qualities, skills, and background needed to support their customers within a tight timeline. We were challenged to recruit and hire a brand new team of 400 members within 9 weeks. …
The subscription box industry has exploded recently, attracting more monthly subscribers each year. Although subscription services aren’t a new concept, their popularity has prompted the introduction of more diverse and niche offerings. Industry leaders like Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and Direct Wines have become household names, leading large retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart to test the same waters. …