By Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO.
Efficiency can be designed, built and enhanced; it’s the goal of any IT department to optimise efficiency and boost productivity, and, increasingly, customers have come to expect that, too.
Over 80% of them, in fact.
This may be a tantalising figure to the IT department, but what shouldn’t be forgotten is that even though these designs may improve the customer experience, and customers are shifting to mobile platforms, the inherent need to deal with human beings remains high – 82% of customers want to deal with an actual human, not C3PO – particularly when the query is a more complex one.
Combining the need for slick and efficient processes with well-oiled human interactions isn’t easy, but, when done well, boosts productivity and profitability within the contact centre environment.
Over the past year, according to Verint Systems, the desire for personalised service from companies has shot up by over 52%. That’s not to say customers preferred anonymous interaction previously, rather the shift in the business environment towards enhancing the customer experience has raised from “desirable” to “essential”.
To ensure the best possible customer experience, quality monitoring is key. Instead of managers having to physically watch over agents’ shoulders on the contact centre floor, quality monitoring and scorecards can ensure that agent output is at optimal levels as well as highlighting any anomalies in reports generated. If an agent isn’t working effectively, he can be better trained or provided with better access to information that allows for better customer service.
Workforce management via tools has contributed to the growth of this; these tools use analytics and predictive algorithms to predict staffing levels and an individual agent’s capacity. In peak times, the managers will know beforehand that additional staff will be required. This will ensure that customer waiting time will be reduced, staff won’t be overburdened with too many queries, and the quality of service will not suffer.
Data is at the heart of an excellent customer experience. Business and customer intelligence made available to agents has helped to make this easier to achieve – more accurate information and a more detailed customer interaction history can now be made available to more departments in real time. This can only increase the probability of a faster resolution and a more positive experience for the customer.
There’s still plenty of room for automated processes and self-service however, especially when there are straightforward queries or requests. It’s not necessary to use a human agent for something as simple as a balance inquiry, it may be turned into a menu-driven transaction. Locally, the introduction of chatbots and other more advanced forms of technology are slowly gaining traction, but customers still lean on the side of human agents when it comes to more complex interactions and queries.
It's important not to alienate the older market segment that prefers voice as a medium of communication. Younger generations are increasing the demand for digital interactions, but they’re not as loyal, according to a recent study, and they’re more likely to shift between brands.
In the meantime, no matter what the customer prefers, be it voice, online, email, chat or social media, companies must ensure that customers get what they want in a seamless way that fosters positive brand sentiment.