One of my favorite quotes, “good is the enemy of great,” Jim Collins, has been in the back of mind for many years as it is so incredibly concise and accurate. Contact centers are usually challenged with working fast on multiple initiatives, all at once, and even having to sacrifice headcount causing them to do more with less. Unfortunately, “good enough” may be a common phrase, and this may trickle down to the customer experience.
There are many factors that may lead to a great customer experience versus a good one, and often times it begins with the capabilities within the company:
What technology limitations exist?
How well trained are the employees?
Are the leaders of the organization incentivizing the right people in the right way?
ICMI recently published a report exploring the meaning, benefits, and challenges contact centers face when seeking results through an Omnichannel customer experience. This report covers the basics like what Omnichannel means, and it clearly outlines why it should be a top initiative for every B2C operation and probably for most B2B organizations as well. While budget constraints often play a role in why a company might have technology limitations, those constraints can often be mitigated or even surpassed with the savings and efficiency gains provided with the right technology solution.
The basic steps you should evaluate in determining if you have the right technology for your customer needs are:
- Fully understand all of the possible touch points your customers have with your business.
- Understand how many times your customers have to repeat or restate things when contacting you about the same/similar issues.
- Identify how many systems your front line team members are required to navigate on a regular basis to handle your customer needs.
- Lastly, identify if this is easy, efficient, and engaging for your customers.
If the answers to some of these steps are less than favorable then you probably have some opportunities to improve. With the advancement of cloud technology there are a few industry leaders that can solve all of your technology needs without the pain of up front Capital Expenditures and get you on the path to great.
Proper training of employees fundamentally starts with overall priorities of the company. Regardless of how large or small an organization is, the real and perceived priorities influence all levels of the organizational chart. If the customer experience isn’t a regular term in conversations, planning, and coaching then there is likely some serious opportunities to be had by simply making sure the customer’s needs are prioritized. Assuming this is already part of your operation, the next step is to review all training curriculums for front-line employees and leaders. How often is the customer experience discussed? What direction are you giving on empowerment to please a customer? How hard is it to go above and beyond for a customer, when necessary?
People respond to incentives in every aspect of their lives. In business, to adequately move the needle on customer experience both types of incentives are often used although it’s best if more positive incentives are in place than negative. To work out how, where, and when to incentivize your front-line employees and front-line leader’s, you’ll first need to prioritize the desired outcomes you hope to deliver to your customers.
As a simple example we’ll just say the highest priority is to make your customers end their interaction with a smile. The incentives to help deliver this outcome as many times as possible should be focused on the simple actions that can be taken to ensure accuracy, friendliness, efficient use of time, and being personable. The metrics to quantify and calculate these characteristics are often found within an evaluation form. But the secondary items that influence this can be vast so I’ll just cover one; if an agent has a negative incentive in place that contradicts a positive one, the concern over this negative incentive often wins over the positive one. If an agent can be written up for giving away free shipping or waiving a fee (when warranted) to solve a problem, mend a relationship with a customer, or to simply “wow” someone, then you have a problem. Trust first and coach correction, punitive measures can significantly harm a person’s ability and desire to make the effort to leave a lasting impression on your customers.
If you consider how you choose to interact with people in your personal life I’d be amazed if you stay on a single channel without exception. If you’re like me, you likely text, email, post (on Social) and possibly even still call someone all with the same general topic/conversation going on throughout. This is what I expect in my life and it’s what everyone should expect from the companies they choose to do business with. If organizations want to become great or greater, delivering an experience that is lasting and impactful begins with properly aligning your operational priorities to deliver an experience worth remembering.
Get your copy of the ICMI report The Buzz Behind Omnichannel: Insights for Driving Real Results.