Guest Blogger

Loyal customers boost your bottom line

Meeting customer needs, and doing it well, is becoming a strategic goal for every organisation. According to the Forrester report, Trends 2016 The Future of Customer Service, 95% of leaders say that providing a good customer experience is their top strategic priority.  Organisations looking to boost their bottom line need to ensure they deliver the best possible customer experience, and a big part of this is consistently meeting customer expectations. Loyal customers become promoters who, in turn, buy more, stay with your brand longer, and make recommendations to their friends. Offering a superior experience than that of your competition helps to drive loyalty among customers, which will have a direct impact on your profitability.

However, dazzling customers with over-the-top service may not be necessary to gain their loyalty. According to Toman Dixon’s book ‘The Effortless Experience’, the key is to consistently deliver a good experience that resolves their queries quickly and requires no effort on their part. Meeting these expectations every time a customer contacts the business is enough to earn their loyalty and, in turn, see better profitability.

Despite the ‘simple’ and almost common sense idea behind this theory, new research, ‘The State of Customer Experience 2017’, commissioned by West’s Unified Communications Services suggests that contact centres are still falling a long way short of delivering outstanding – or in some cases, even satisfactory – experiences. Enda Kenneally of West digs deeper to understand the challenge and provides five strategies that every contact centre can take to create profitable customers.

Five tips on how to improve customer experience to maximise profitability

  1. Think integrated digital channels

There is plenty of evidence that digital contacts will overtake voice in the contact centre by as early as 2020, if not sooner. It is a matter of when, not if. For the customer experience professional, this means fundamental changes to the way people, process and technology work together. It may sound obvious, but it’s important to be able to offer customers a range of communication channels, including self-service.

West’s own research published in our study ‘The State of Customer Experience 2017’ showed that organisations across the board have been slow to adopt new channels and deploy new technologies to help them cater for the expectations of the digital savvy customer. If you take the initiative now, you can make sure your organisation is ahead of the curve.

  1. Offer self-service for simple interactions

Most consumers, across all demographics, prefer self-service for simple interactions. For example, one of the biggest cost savers in the airline industry is self-check-in machines. Consumers are increasingly demanding control of the simple tasks that they feel shouldn’t take much time, and the way to do that is to offer them self-service options. Even hotels have introduced mobile apps that allow guests to check in and out of their rooms themselves, on-the-go and at their convenience.

If your self-service options work effectively, you will both satisfy customers and take the heat off your customer service agents. A good option is to try to simplify IVR interactions. Remember to keep messages short and relevant, menu options concise, and always ensure customers have the ability to speak to an agent, should they want to.

  1. Measure outcomes

Our research suggests that customer service metrics have failed to keep pace with the focus on customer experience. Many contact centres are continuing to put more emphasis on efficiency measures rather than outcomes. Just over half (53%) consider customer satisfaction, 35% consider customer experience as a performance indicator and 25% focus on reducing customer effort. Companies who measure customer satisfaction through surveys, such as pre- or post-IVR surveys and email surveys, are well on their way to delivering exceptional customer experiences.

  1. Empower agents

Customer service representatives are often unable to resolve an incoming query in one interaction simply due to lack of information. By making sure that your agents have access to all the information they need, ideally in one single dashboard, and that they are trained to successfully resolve most queries, you will ensure that both your customers and your operators are satisfied.

  1. Identify drivers of customer effort

A frustrated customer is one that has had to spend a considerable amount of effort to resolve their query. In fact, around 30% of customers report they often have to invest lots of effort to resolve their problem. One of the biggest drivers of repeat contacts is consumers picking up the phone because their attempt to solve their issue via another channel has failed. When this happens, the customer is already frustrated by the time they make a call to an agent. Having to switch communication channels, for example from online to the phone, means having to re-explain the issue, and often it includes being placed in more queues. Everyone’s time is valuable, but your customer’s more than anyone’s. Make sure that they aren’t wasting it trying to solve a problem with your product or service.

State-of-the-art contact centres: greater customer loyalty and bottom line

In short, being able to deliver a good customer experience starts with how your contact centre is designed. Ensure that your agents are ready, and that all processes are thought through. The technology should also be up-to-date to keep up with changing customer expectations. If all these items are addressed, and you design your contact centre with the aim of resolving queries on first contact, your customers will thank you and become loyal. Providing a seamless experience through multiple channels can boost customer experience and maximize profitability.

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