6 Ways to Differentiate and Improve Customer Satisfaction Scores

What better way to mark a new year for service providers than by implementing best practices–in a world of self-healing IT equipment that will enhance their reputation and relationship with customers?

When we look at 2016, Avaya’s made several predictions about the future of customer service. Today, I want to focus on self-healing service tools. From our report:

Greater than 50 percent of support coming via unassisted support and self-healing systems means differentiation is now about relationships: As leading-edge vendors put more remediation and proactivity into tools and systems, the value-add of contracted support becomes less visible to the customer.

Vendors will have to develop strategies and underlying system intelligence to improve customer experience with offers that help increase adoption and full value realization. Vendors will need to fight against the depersonalization that increasingly autonomous solutions can drive by working intentionally to maintain the human factors of the service event by implementing things such as relationship-based routing and service deliverables, combined with high-satisfaction channels, most notably, video.

Self-service, fueled by self-healing, machine-to-machine proactive diagnostics, online forums, and other tools, continues to gain momentum. Invaluable personal customer relationships are starting to be eclipsed by new diagnostic tools that find and fix problems, enabling quick resolution. Online self-service tools save time and can help to reaffirm the customer’s satisfaction, but do so at the risk of dehumanizing service delivery and marginalizing service providers to the point of becoming just another commodity.

While forums, Web chats, and automated tools are definitely helpful, service providers can risk generating a value-erosion event by losing the full context of the targeted customer outcome. Sometimes, a well-intended outcome results in a value-erosion event. For example, imagine if a proactive system update helps you load the latest mobile operating system, without sharing the fact that for your particular tablet or smartphone, the new OS has been shown to drive significantly reduced battery life.

Instead, let’s examine a hypothetical value-creation event, based on a contextual customer outcome goal: A car owner receives a recall notice, asking them to visit a nearby dealer to fix their car’s seatbelts. After repairing the car, the dealership provides the customer a two-page document detailing everything else they’ve checked: Brakes, fluids, windshield wipers, etc. The report adds to the customer’s feeling of safety, alleviates their need to perform the inspections themselves and gives the dealership the data for future upsell opportunities. That’s value creation.

Goodwill can be lost to value erosion if the client’s needs aren’t adequately assessed before problems arise. Service providers must continue to find critical ways to keep that personal touch (whether via human or system) in play or risk being commoditized. That means finding new creative ways to maintain contact with customers through communications channels that are most convenient and effective to their needs and consider the context of their solution use.

Generation Y, born between 1982 and 1996, sees the traditional phone as “the fourth channel choice … behind electronic messaging, social media, and smartphone applications–and Generation X is not far behind,” according to a recent global contact center report from Dimension Data. “This trend signals the future shape of customer management.”

According to the report, “Web chat has become the top channel priority for 50.6 percent of contact centers, and the number of deployments that are planned has gone up 27.2 percent over the past 12 months.”

We have seen similar results. Nearly 90 percent of all Avaya customer questions now start on the Web, where customers have numerous ways to resolve issues: Web forums, voice-over-Web, and chat.

Among the technology trends that emerged in 2015, and will figure prominently in 2016, is the emergence of omnichannel, including Web forums, online tools, phone, Web chat, and now, video. Thanks to omnichannel routing technologies, service providers can communicate in the way that most helps an individual customer. Enhancements to omnichannel have led to avatars that can identify the customer, reference their last-identified session and act as a concierge to bring in a “swarm” of experts to resolve their problem.

It’s clear customer pull and vendor push is driving less-traditional voice interaction with customers. Without the rich communication spectrum a live conversation provides, developing new ways to ensure customer context is key to avoiding value erosion-events. Saving time in problem resolution, self-service and omnichannel have improved customer satisfaction scores, but reduce vendor differentiation. What can service providers do to improve/differentiate their customer relationship? Consider these 6 ways to differentiate in a self-service world:

#6: Get personal! Ensure the customer’s choice of omnichannel communication is recognized and completely integrated into their personalized customer access strategy.

#5: Enable customers to get the answers they need quickly: Offer easy-to-choose options for exiting out of the current communication channel choice as quickly as possible when it is not the most efficient to meet their needs.

#4: Data-driven, proactive support is key: Analyze the customer interaction and contact data, including tickets, tags and macros for trends, that can be quickly remedied either with online answers published by agents or forwarded directly to appropriate customers before a problem occurs.

#3: Lights, camera, action! Make sure agents are properly prepared and trained to quickly work with customers to resolve challenges by video, a channel that enhances relationship-building and rewards customers with quicker resolutions.

#2: Personalize and specialize: Route customers to self-service tools or agents that have personalized knowledge of their IT- or business environment.

#1: Gauge CSAT scores: Continually check the customer satisfaction scores for each communication channel to ensure that customers are getting what need from the process.

What are your New Year’s resolutions when it comes to delivering better and more relationship-oriented support? How do you plan to cut problem resolution times in 2016? What improvements will you make 2016 to improve customer satisfaction scores?

Follow me on Twitter at @Pat_Patterson_V

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Check out the Cool Avaya Omnichannel Contact Center Demos at ICMI

Sometimes you travel to Orlando to really fun destinations. But this May 22-25, when you arrive in Orlando for the 2017 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference, we think you’ll be heading for what we like to call the second happiest place on earth. Visit Avaya’s Booth 623 for a fun omnichannel contact center experience that shows you how to create satisfaction—happiness—for customers throughout their interactions with your company.

Each year, contact center executives gather for a few days of education on the latest innovations designed to ensure customers have a great experience. I might not meet up with Mickey from Disney, but I may get together with Alex from Norwegian Cruise Lines, an Avaya customer, and many others who are going to have a wild ride at our cool contact center demos. We’ll show customer-focused companies our latest innovations. This includes the Avaya Oceana™ Solution for contact centers, which enables you to provide a greater customer experience over every communications channel—phone, email, web, SMS, chat, and more. And Avaya Aura® Workforce Optimization, which helps you drive a better customer experience by generating relevant and timely insights from each interaction.

At our demos, we believe customer service professionals will be as excited as kids visiting Goofy. Why? With just five minutes of prep, we can put your corporate website into our Avaya Oceana contact center transformation demo. We’ll set up a live, fully functional omnichannel contact center for taking calls and chat sessions from your website. It’s like magic to see a retail website suddenly support chat and WebRTC-based voice. We show you the exact experience your customers would have. Want to add voice? Will do. How about co-browsing and secured form fill? Done. How about a custom application for the iPhone? Done and fun!

Then we’ll add in our workforce optimization tools, giving you a 360-degree view of how to move from the old world of 800 numbers to the new world of a multi-touch omnichannel contact center. It all works with all of our Avaya solutions (which are used by 90% of the Fortune 100). It’s a great ride—with no height restrictions and guaranteed to be eye opening.

Visiting an Avaya booth at any tradeshow is a unique experience for many reasons:

  • Each demonstration we do is customized. The best way to show you the power of Avaya is to give you a glimpse into what your actual solution could be. If a vendor shows a canned demo, it might be an indication that the technology is not flexible or easy to customize.
  • Each demo shows multi-touch channels in action. Click on a live representation of your company’s mobile application and it connects to an agent. Follow the experience like your customers would.
  • We show the entire customer experience. A customer journey map shows the entire customer experience so that agents can add value to previous transactions and steps. By knowing what a customer has done in the past, or what a customer tried to do, an agent can be one step ahead with a relevant response.
    If a customer chatted with an agent yesterday and places a phone call today, it’s likely that both contacts are about the same transaction. An agent can see what information was exchanged with another agent, so the current agent can continue the customer journey fluidly. It’s a great way to reduce agent time requirements, while making the customer experience more personalized.
  • We are passionate about making a difference for your business. Meet an Avaya team with years of contact center experience and dedicated to helping your company create a competitive differentiation by transforming your customer experience.

We hope to see you at the ICMI Contact Center and Exhibition in Booth 623. We’ll have you saying “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” (Did you know Microsoft Word has supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in the dictionary?)

If you can’t make it to a show, an Avaya associate or partner can demo our solutions in person or online. To schedule a demonstration at the ICMI event or at another time, please email me at blgutnick@avaya.com.

Join us for the Transformational Journey: Avaya Evolutions is Now #AvayaENGAGE

For over 11 years Avaya Evolutions Mexico has been the milestone event for Mexico’s technology market, with over 3,000 visitors in each edition. This year Avaya Evolutions transforms into #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. Following Avaya Engage events in Dubai and Las Vegas, this is the third and final location on our tour, and the largest thought leadership event in Latin America. This must-attend event brings together top senior executives, industry leaders, technology innovators and key decision makers to reimagine the possibilities of Digital Transformation and Cloud.

In the past, Dr. Zedillo, Former President of Mexico; Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, former President of Mexico; Jose Fernandez, NASA’s first Mexican American Astronaut; Steve Wozniak; and Guy Kawasaki have all been a part of Avaya Evolutions.

Evolutions began in 2006 in Mexico as the annual premiere technology forum before expanding internationally in June 2010. The Evolutions tour gathered over 30,000 attendees in 15 different cities across the U.S., Central America, and South America, receiving the Internationalist’s Innovation Global Media Award in 2012. The success of these global events was made possible by the continuous commitment and support of our partners and sponsors.

When customers join us this June in Mexico City, they will be introduced to the latest concepts on smart digital economies from forward-looking organizations. At the Digital Transformation Lounge, customers can experience innovative demonstrations and view software solutions live.  

Join us to learn how the experience is everything. Gain knowledge and insights to make informed decisions to support your digital transformation journey.

We are bringing together an exciting lineup of keynote speakers at #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. We’re featuring Kevin Kennedy, Avaya CEO; Morag Lucey, Avaya CMO; and Gary E. Barnett, Avaya Senior Vice President and General Manager, Engagement Solutions. You can find us on Twitter @Avaya. Follow us in early May as we announce our very special guest speakers.

Join us in Mexico City on June 21 for a can’t-miss next-gen experience. I hope to see you there!

Don’t Underestimate Smart and Secure Remote Access

Like many people, I’ve spent a lot of time watching great NCAA March Madness games in the last two weeks. During the commercials, I’ve been thinking about the challenges faced by athletes aspiring to get to the Final Four—and realizing that many careers bring similar tremendous pressure. In my communications industry, I think of IT professionals trying to solve technology issues, bridging legacy and new solutions, always on tight deadlines and tight budgets. These teams need things to go right—and when there’s an error—they need smooth, secure, fast fixes from their vendors.

Underestimating the skills of the remaining NCAA players might be a mistake—don’t blame their current success on luck or a fluke. That’s basketball, but I’ve seen IT departments underestimate the problem-solving power of remote connectivity in a similar way. Remote Access is often dismissed as being too risky for network security.

In his blog “Achieving Secure, Mission-Critical Technical Support is a Two-Way Street” Mike Runda, President of Avaya Client Services, refutes the misconceptions IT can have about remote access. Mike discusses the three key attributes that IT managers should demand of a remote access solution. Before you choose your communications solution, make sure that the provider’s connectivity into your enterprise is smart, secure, and gives you full control.

Secure remote access connectivity is the foundational component for resolving complex network issues. Mike tells the real-life story of an Avaya customer having a network issue, and blocking remote access for Avaya support technicians. The techs needed access to diagnose and resolve the problem. The customer was steadfast in its cybersecurity. The situation became a full-court press (i.e., escalations) by both teams. Once both teams got together and discussed the power and security of Avaya’s remote connectivity, the issue was quickly fixed. Read the whole story in Mike’s blog.

For now, we know the teams heading to the Final Four are doing all they can to bring their A Games to Phoenix. Likewise, when the pressure’s on in IT, Avaya customers can work with us via remote connectivity—with confidence that the pros at Avaya will protect security and bring proven results.