Understanding Where Your Customers Went (and How to Win Them Back)

Technology never stops progressing. What’s great for users isn’t great for companies who must confront their customers’ increased expectations. Ignore this, and your customer base will dwindle without you even realizing it until it’s too late. The antidote is understanding how technology, particularly social media, is changing the way the Customer Experience Management game must be played – and then adapting.

(Note: this is a guest blog written by Avaya CMO Mark Wilson)

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I took part in a webinar broadcast earlier today entitled ‘Where Did All of My Customers Go (and How Do I Win Them Back?)’ with a group of great experts. Our consensus was that companies need to stop analyzing customers using old-fashioned demographics and ideas, and start being aware of the different channels available to customers as well the technology behind them.

Technology has dramatically changed how people interact with brands because of how it allows them to collect information. In today’s business-to-business world, 40% to 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before the buyer even contacts another person. So when they actually do interact with an agent, buyers come in with a wealth of information and high expectations. So how does a brand meet those expectations? By providing a sophisticated experience that matches the customer’s journey.

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Tony Bridgewater, executive vice-president of Australian communications provider (and Avaya partner) Salmat, had an excellent point about training contact agents for this new wave of informed customers. Your agents need to be trained not only to help a customer, but to help a customer who thinks they know the answer. With information so readily available, customers will sometimes tell service agents how to fix the product because they’ve Googled the solution themselves. Of course, the solution the web provides them may not be the correct one, and your agent needs to be able to correct them if this is the case (without hurting their feelings). Still, better-informed customers force your firm to account for this constant loop of feedback and make appropriate adjustments to your contact center. If not, a negative effect will be seen within a matter of weeks.

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I mentioned earlier how many companies still get their multi-channel customer experience management wrong. This is partially because, as analyst Sheila McGee-Smith pointed out, companies are still using outdated demographic information. It’s also because too few executives ever experience their own brand’s customer service. All the panelists agreed that the simple technique of going undercover at their own firm would allow executives to identify what needs to be improved within their CEM, as well as allow you to see firsthand what your customers are getting out of your brand. 

And then there’s social media customer experience, which is even more demanding of a brand. While prior communication methods gave brands strong control over a message, social media does not. In fact, customers are more likely to prefer third-party opinions of your brand than your company’s own content. On the other hand, 80% of people expect a response within twelve hours from a brand if they contact that brand via social media, versus just 37% who contact a company via e-mail according to eDigitalResearch (not 27%, as I said during the webinar). 

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Or take a look at these other stats, which show that 56% of customers who use social media to talk to a company feel a stronger connection. The moral? Social media is a sharp, albeit, double-edged sword.

Sheila McGee-Smith added to this by mentioning the “Amazon Effect,” which refers to certain brands, such as one Seattle-based e-tailer, raising the bar so high that even B2B brands are feeling the heat. Our moderator, customer experience guru Jeanne Bliss, had a excellent point: social media may be an impersonal medium, but it really shapes the identity and personality of a brand through your interactions with your customers. How you respond, your tone, your brand’s voice, determines whether your brand feels transparent and accessible to your customers. 

There’s an incredible amount of information we managed to cover within our one hour together. This is just a small sampling, and so I highly recommend watching the replay of the webinar as well as downloading the slides. Your customers may or may not be leaving, but you can certainly take the right steps to bring them back.

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Get out of the Queue: Drive Your CX with Attribute Matching

At this point, nearly every company is working overtime to realign around two simple words: customer experience (CX). So much so that nearly 90% of companies now compete solely on CX—a drastic increase from 36 % in 2010—and 50 % of consumer product investments are expected to be redirected to CX innovations—like attribute matching—by the end of this year.

But what exactly does the CX consist of, especially in today’s new world of digital business innovation? This next-generation CX is supported by several advanced technologies—big data analytics, omnichannel, automation—however, these investments are all aimed at driving one thing: contextualization.

The rise of contextualized service—the ability for companies to not only gain insightful information about their customers but also deliver information in a way that is relevant and meaningful to customers based on individual circumstances to improve their experience—has evolved the CX to a point where it looks virtually nothing like it did as recently as 10 years ago. Whereas consumers once primarily focused on the act of purchasing, driven by such things as product quality and price, they now focus on the richness of brand relationships, driven by the personal value that companies deliver throughout the customer journey. Just consider that 70% of buying experiences are now based on how customers feel they are being treated. This is the key factor that sets apart market leaders like Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Apple from the competition.

According to Accenture, there is an estimated $6 trillion in global revenue up for grabs due to dissatisfied customers constantly switching providers. The ability for companies to offer contextualized service is vital for operating at the speed of the consumer and capturing more of this market share. There’s just one thing preventing companies from seizing this limitless potential: the traditional call queue.

Every customer is familiar with the call queue. This is the place where statements like, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold,” and “Let me transfer you to a specialized team who can help you with that” perpetually live. It’s where exhaustive efforts to route customers to the correct service rep become lost, or where consumers must repeat the same information to multiple agents across different teams. It’s the greatest barrier preventing companies from being more dynamically connected to their consumers, and one of the greatest reasons why customers reduce their commitment to a brand.

Driving Contextualization with Attribute Matching

In a world where customers demand a profound level of connection and transparency, organizations can no longer support a contact center environment in which calls are distributed among agents who are organized by function (i.e., sales, service, support). In today’s smart, digital world, companies must transform the traditional call center into an integrated, digital communications hub. This means moving away from a siloed, metric-driven queue and instead working to put customers in touch with the best organizational resource depending on their exact need or circumstance as immediately as possible. The most effective way to achieve this is to migrate from archaic infrastructure towards an integrated, agile, next-generation platform built on open communications architecture.

Open communications architecture allows organizations to seamlessly collect, track and share contextual data across various teams, processes, and customer touch points. This integrated environment supports a real-time data repository from which businesses can pull from to route customers based on needs beyond traditional characteristics (like language preference). Rather, the technology allows companies to build customized learning algorithms that drive anticipatory engagement, enabling them to match customers based on next-level variables like personality, emotion and relatability.

Imagine, for example, a hotel routing a customer directly to an IT staffer after seeing that the person tweeted about a poor in-room Wi-Fi connection. Imagine a bank being able to route a customer to a money management expert after seeing that the last five questions asked via live chat were about account spending. Imagine an athletic apparel company matching a customer with an agent who is an avid runner after noticing that the individual recently signed up for a 5K.

The future of the CX means creating and continually building a contextualized view of customers throughout their entire brand journey. It means going beyond customer service to establish unparalleled, organization-wide relationships. It means transforming peoples’ lives, verses simply answering questions. This is what companies must work to align themselves with. The good news is that technology has evolved to a point where they can now easily, effectively and cost-efficiently do so.

Interested in learning more or getting beyond the queue to Redefine Your Customer and Employee Experiences? Contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Every Week is Customer Service Week for this Credit Union

It’s not easy for credit unions to compete these days. Many need to win against neighboring big banks, with nearby branches, billions in operating expenses, and national marketing campaigns. To compete against their larger banking competitors, the IT staff of one top 20 U.S. credit union with 500,000 members and fewer than 50 locations focuses on three strategies while being very mindful of the budget.

Three Strategies Ensure Credit Union’s Commitment to Superior Customer Service

“We’re very conscious of fees,” says the senior telecom and contact center engineer at the top-20 credit union. “When it comes to our credit union members, our motto is: ‘We never forget it’s your money!’”

Having a customer-centric culture during Customer Service Week (October 3-7) and beyond requires a persistent focus on providing a consistently strong contact center. To accomplish this day in and day out, choosing a partner with the same focus on proactive customer service goes a long way.

Not long ago, the credit union launched a new internet banking service, which resulted in a significant uptick in call volumes to the call center. Some members calling in were not hearing the correct recorded announcements.

To fix the problems like this, and minimize the impact to the customer, the credit union IT staff selected a managed services provider that offers 24/7 support for its service center, corporate headquarters, and disaster recovery location. Three strategies help the credit union maintain their customer centric culture:

  1. Resolve problems quickly:

    The managed service provider used its extensive toolbox of innovative diagnostics and expertise to trace the problem to a Local Access Carrier issue and an internal server not rebooted in 900 days. The remote technical support specialist found the root cause and quickly fixed the issue. “Usually when you open a ticket, you feel like the first tier person is going to be just a ticket-taker. I was expecting to wait,” added the engineer. “But the gentleman I spoke to was able to stay on the phone, get another engineer on the line, and stay on the whole time. Both engineers on this case were solid,” she adds, “but I was most impressed that the first support engineer who took the initial call didn’t just hand us off, he stayed engaged throughout the resolution process.”

  2. Don’t repeat the same mistakes:

    The software specialist flagged the server reboot issue and recommended rebooting at regular intervals along with a recent software patch to further promote stability in the credit union’s environment. Receiving proactive guidance on how to avoid the same problem in the future helped the credit union once again to deliver consistent strong customer service. “The fact that our partner is so open and willing to integrate with other vendors is huge for us,” said the engineer. “The platforms that were offered—and the support I get—are top notch.”

  3. Use automated diagnostics:

    The IT staff is small but very efficient. During the day, they focus on projects that will drive customer satisfaction and at night—they sleep! “We’ll get alarms on our system on occasion. When I get in in the morning, I can see that our managed services partner’s automated diagnostic systems have been in at night, testing things and resolving those alarms,” says the IT manager. “It’s nice that you don’t have to be woken up in the middle of the night for those little things. We focus on being very efficient, so that we can turn around and give our members better dividends and rates.”

How is your contact center running these days? What helps you keep the focus on your customer service? What emerging trends are you watching in 2017?

How Workforce Optimization Tools Positively Impact Your Business, Clients, and Bottom Line

Founded in 1962, Common has been delivering best-in-class accounts receivable management programs throughout Canada for decades. With an unwavering commitment to excellence, Common’s leadership team is always looking for new ways to deliver exceptional service to our clients.

In pursuit of this goal, Common has been a long-time user of Avaya IP Office™ with Avaya Contact Center Select. Common recently became a beta user of Avaya Workforce Optimization Select, an easy-to-implement, easy-to-use, security-oriented solution that gives contact center managers and representatives access to scalable and flexible tools. Tools include recording, quality management, call monitoring, coaching, e-learning, and full reporting services. Workforce Optimization Select has upped the ante when it comes to workforce optimization tools.

Common is currently using Workforce Optimization Select to record incoming and outgoing calls and capture desktop screens for 80 agents, and has a total of five agents dedicated to the Quality Management program. This has eliminated our previous manual quality assurance paper audit process, which was often cumbersome, unreliable and difficult to manage.

If you’re a medium-sized business and you want a workforce optimization solution that delivers enterprise-like workforce optimization capabilities at a price point that will not break your budget, then you should choose Avaya Workforce Optimization Select.

From Common’s standpoint, the minimal deployment costs and fast rollout—resulting in a quick return on investment—have made it easy to welcome Avaya Workforce Optimization Select into its business. Other benefits that Common is enjoying thanks to Workforce Optimization Select include:

  • 100% call recording reliability, real-time availability and uptime—empowering Common to quickly and easily review calls for dispute resolution, fraud prevention and more.
  • Adherence to PCI security and compliance standards, ensuring Common maintains call quality compliance with the five major financial regulations in Canada and two in the U.S.–supporting our long-term focus on regulatory compliance and business security.
  • The best in privacy and data security—no paper trails—via encryption, Secure HTTP, digital signatures, screen masking, system-level audit trails and protected access with user-level feature permission options.
  • The option for QA analysts and supervisors to view entire customer interactions from start to finish—with screen recordings—to gain a complete view and deep understanding of interactions when evaluating agent performance.
  • A significant time and cost savings by eliminating the management of QA via pen and paper—no administrative time is wasted scanning, copying or filing.

Workforce Optimization Select thinks about your bottom line too, delivering capabilities that allows businesses to develop the operational intelligence needed to improve agent performance and customer interactions. With low hardware and storage costs, flexible seat-based pricing, and minimal installation and training requirements, Workforce Optimization Select deploys quickly and easily, and lets customers preserve their investment over time.

With Workforce Optimization Select, we are now able to record 100% of our voice and agent desktop screen interactions and then use these recordings to isolate and improve agent performance as part of a quality management and coaching program. And, Common’s call center managers are excited about the audio quality and security of call recordings, and the agents are enjoying the intuitive interface.

Scott Wyatt, CISA, Common’s Programming and Support consultant who oversaw the Workforce Optimization Select beta deployment, says, “Common has been using Avaya solutions for a long time and hasn’t been disappointed yet. The Workforce Optimization Select call recordings are crisp and reliable, and by adding in QA, we have the perfect combination of solutions.

“Beyond that, the agent deployment was effortless and working with the team at Avaya has been an exceptional experience. From the IT to support to development, everyone provided excellent service without fail.”

Moving forward, Common plans to phase in additional aspects of Workforce Optimization Select—ensuring our staff and clients benefit from all the solution has to offer.