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Voice of the Customer

Multi-channel customer contact services specialist Echo Managed Services says many brands are now becoming far too reliant on deeper and deeper levels of segmentation, targeting, profiling and insight in order to reach their target customers. At a time when there is an increased focus on relentless, analytics-enabled data mining, Echo’s Managing Director Nigel Baker questions whether today’s Big Data marketers are placing enough emphasis on high quality customer service delivery.

“The latest Big Data and analytics tools are critical in helping marketers to get their stories in front of the right customers – ideally with a highly personalised and contextualised offer – however organisations have still got to translate that access into a meaningful and positive engagement,” he commented. “Marketers need to remember that, despite all their investment in technology that gets them closer and closer to their target audience, customers also now have access to more alternatives than ever before. That’s why at Echo Managed Services we believe that customer service is coming full circle, with high quality human interactions proving critical for even the most analytics-focused marketing teams.”

To help marketers get back to their customer service roots, Echo has compiled a Top Ten checklist to help organisations strike the right balance between communicating through channels data analysis predicts that customers may adopt, and a more customer-centric approach which aims to deliver a consistently excellent quality of service whichever channel customers themselves choose.

1.     Customer service comes full circle – responding to customers quickly and effectively can prove a real advantage, providing you’re able to treat each and every interaction that way. As service metrics evolve towards a greater focus on Customer Effort, making things as easy as possible for customers can provide marketers with the competitive differentiation they need.

2.     Getting control of your Big Data – unprecedented levels of insight and analysis are powering a new generation of data-driven campaigns. However you need to question whether these activities are being driven by the data or by real customer requirements.

3.     Start with the customer first – marketers need to build customer journeys that recognise people and treat them as a single customer, whether they’re engaging online, through self-service or via a contact centre. It’s here that marketing and operations need to work hand in hand.

4.     Loyalty programmes aren’t enough to secure long-term customer loyalty – many customers are worn down by aggressive loyalty initiatives, of course we all like a good deal but we don’t always want to sign-up to demanding loyalty programmes just to take part.

5.     Keeping it real – personalisation and contextualisation is great, but nothing beats a high quality human interaction. Understanding customer requirements and responding to them effectively and quickly – in a polite and positive manner – can provide a foundation for true long-term engagement.

6.     Make sure it’s the customer’s choice – whether it’s social, email, chat or voice, you have to meet customers in the channel of their choice and according to the sensitivity and/or complexity of the conversation. While there may be significant short term savings to be gained from driving customers towards self-service, this doesn’t always equate to long term value and can dilute customer loyalty.

7.     Understand where ‘targeted’ ends and ‘intrusive’ begins – today’s sophisticated targeting is just tomorrow’s background noise. There’s a very fine line between nuanced targeting and going too far. Customers will increasingly tune out of campaigns that are over-intrusive.

8.     Recognise that your requirements will evolve – when you’re looking for outsourced contact support it’s worthwhile noting that selecting solely on the basis of today’s needs can leave you ill equipped for future challenges. Instead look to engage a partner that can grow with your business.

9.     Invest in proven expertise – over-prescriptive ITTs invariably lead to inflexible responses. In our experience the best outsourced partnerships develop through co-operative engagements. However don’t just believe the proposal: it’s important to rigorously check out supplier references.

10.    Reporting from an outside-in perspective – marketing-driven campaigns thrive on customer feedback, so it makes sense to listen to what your contact centre agents and service partners are telling you. Aligning your engagement metrics with successful service delivery ensures that you can act immediately on customer feedback.

 

“Designing and delivering campaigns in a world where nothing stays the same is always going to be challenging for marketers, however successfully achieving this requires more than just the latest social, mobile or Big Data technologies,” added Nigel Baker. “It’s all too easy for the excitement of new digital channels to make marketers forget that customers also want to be recognised, engage with people who they feel understand their concerns, and trust that their business is valued. Truly engaging with customers means always having the right people and processes in place. People who you can trust to do the things they need to do to resolve customer issues, and processes that are agile enough to respond to changing customer demands.”

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