Key Takeaways from Deloitte Global Contact Center Study

Global businesses are utilizing contact centers to enhance the customer experience in increasingly complex ways. Customer choice is behind the wheel, driving contact centers towards greater emphasis on consumer needs and preferences. Deloitte’s Global Contact Center Survey provides insights from over 450 contact centers, shedding light on how business is changing for the better.

 

1.Customer Experience

Now a top priority, customer experience is driving contact center growth even more so than operational expansion. Customer experience and expectations are a key driver for 88% of the contact centers studied in 2017, with improvements in customer satisfaction (46%) outweighing revenue growth (3%) in importance.

 

Today, companies are reporting that customer feedback (54%) will motivate core business decisions moving forward. How will they do it? Technologies such as text analytics and social media listening are improving in quality, streamlining the process of feedback collection. For the customer, businesses view ease and accuracy of information (66%) as most important to future contact center interactions.

 

2.Complexity and Diversity of Channels

Context of contact and mediums for customer engagement are adding to the complexity and diversity of contact center interactions. Phone contact is expected to fall from 64% to 47% over the coming years, with chat and social media expanding as channels for customer engagement. Advancements in technology such as  “chat bots” are predicted to streamline integration challenges, growing to an estimated 16% by 2019, up from 6% in 2017.

 

Survey respondents have a major thing in common: investment in new technologies for return interactions. Advanced analytics (66%) and voice of the customer (54%) top the list of emerging capabilities that companies seek to invest in over the next two years.

 

Contact centers expect web capabilities (29%) and mobile applications (23%) will generate the greatest return on investment. What’s the main challenge to realizing investment potential? Integration of existing systems (63%) for the ultimate omnichannel customer experience, along with budget (56%) and change management (55%) for overseaing company transformation.

 

3.Talent

Focus is placed on improving talent for all survey respondents, citing the use of analytics (73%) and training programs (63%) as the key initiatives towards boosting staff. Outsourcing as a strategic method has reached a state of equilibrium, and flexible work programs are popular in the retention of employees, with 52% of companies planning on undertaking the initiative over the next two years.

 

The Moral of the Story

Maximizing the potential of technological advancements and its integration with multifaceted channels is improving the customer experience for corporate contact centers. Quality of talent is a developing initiative towards growth. And with customer experience at the forefront of contact center executives’ minds, the customer truly is “always right.”

The Curious Case of Carter Wilkerson

Late last year, 16-year old Carter Wilkerson hopped on Twitter to ask a seemingly innocuous question to fast-food titan Wendy’s: how many retweets would it take to earn him a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets?

Playfully, the restaurant’s social media team immediately jumped on the opportunity, tasking the teen with reaching 18 million retweets before it would accept Wilkerson’s terms. With an empty stomach and a catchy hashtag–#NuggsForCarter—a viral sensation was born.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Carter Wilkerson had reached over 3.5 million retweets. Not 18 million, but enough to beat the world record previously held by Ellen DeGeneres. Wilkerson quickly found himself a viral media sensation, making appearances on news networks and even getting the opportunity to meet DeGeneres herself, on her own TV show.

And though Wilkerson was roughly 14 million retweets short of the original goal, the media attention was too much for Wendy’s to ignore. Just over a month after the initial challenge was issued, Carter Wilkerson got his free chicken nuggets.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Wendy’s was just being generous. One six-piece chicken nugget order costs just $1.79. Assuming Carter ate Wendy’s nuggets three meals a day, every day, for a year, Wendy’s would have to put up a total of $1,960.05. Not a bad expense considering that the campaign generated $6.72 million of marketing revenue through retweets and $450,000 in earned media value.

Not a bad return for 140 characters.

This isn’t just an interesting story, though. It’s a lesson for any contact center leader who has scoffed at the importance of social media, or the notion that there’s not a clear enough ROI to expand operations to include a dedicated social team.

But with social media interactions set to grow from 4 percent to 9 percent in 2019, the case is clear. Social media is here to stay, and your organization must a plan in place to adopt today. To learn more, click here.

Marketing and Sales, They Go Hand in Hand

It is certainly logical to expand your contact center capabilities to light a fire during a new sales campaign. It also makes sense, in the customer-centric world we live in, to be prepared with extra support for customer service agents tasked with putting fires out.

But in the hustle to provide additional support for a demanding sales force and overwhelmed service department, it is often the case that marketing gets left in the dust.

Businesses that hope to succeed in a connected, interoperable world cannot afford to compartmentalize in this fashion. In fact, when the right contact center solutions are deployed at the right time, you’ll be able to break down silos so that your marketing, sales and service initiatives work to build each other up for maximum impact.

Continuous feedback for real-time response

As the nerve center of your business, the contact center is an optimal place for marketing and sales to converge. Your contact center can conduct personalized inbound or outbound marketing efforts around a new initiative, gathering real-time feedback from consumers and responding to inquiries immediately. Integration with your sales force will enable you to respond to problematic trends and tweak your campaign accordingly.

Turn challenging issues into customer wins

A frustrated customer communicating with your contact center is at a crossroads. The story can end badly, with a lost relationship and a bad review rant disseminated across social media for a cascading negative impact. Or, if guided by a highly-skilled agent, the customer can truly be heard, helped and happy. These customer wins can be useful if viewed through a marketing perspective, while also demonstrating the value of an integrated approach.

Consistency is about staying on message

What happens when your marketing team, sales team and customer service team aren’t reading from the same script? You end up with lots of confused customers and lost sales. From the C-Suite to the contact center, your success hinges on your organization’s ability to stay consistent with your brand, your message and your offerings.

To see how InfoCision can help your business, click here.

What Is a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?

Mixpanel CEO Suhail Doshi was once quoted as saying “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will either be lucky or wrong.”

We can apply this quote to the customer service space where many companies are still using outdated and ineffective strategies that aren’t backed by supportive data. When contact center managers lack data-driven insight, they instead rely on guesswork. This can be very risky, especially if someone is in charge who  may act impulsively or lack experience.

The truth is that this world is becoming increasingly digitalized, and there is an abundance of data that can be easily accessed and utilized in the contact center. There is no excuse for contact center administrators to be ignoring all of this easily-available information. In fact, refusing to use data could be considered an affront to your customers. They deserve the best experiences possible, and this requires using data.

A data-driven marketing strategy can be characterized as one that:

Leverages customer insight: The vast majority of businesses today are collecting information about their customers  and target audiences but aren’t using it effectively. A data-driven customer service strategy is one where information flows into the enterprise, is processed in a customer relationship management (CRM) system and shared during interactions. Your customers are giving you all the clues you need to provide great service. It’s just a matter of digging through the information and organizing it to uncover trends.

Never stagnates: The business landscape is constantly changing, and customer demands shift by the day. So often, companies will  continue doing the same things year in and year out and then wonder why they are suddenly irrelevant in their space. When you embrace data-driven strategy, you are constantly looking out for the next opportunity at hand. It’s like getting in shape. Once you start, you have to keep doing it. There is no stagnating in business!

Is forward-thinking: A robust data-driven strategy requires looking as far as you can into the future, and making important decisions to prevent problems before they happen. For instance, you may start to notice that your customer engagement is declining on a particular social channel. Using data, you can get a better sense of why that is happening and determine whether it makes sense to  go in a different marketing direction. This can save time, and prevent you from wasting resources. It can also prevent your competitors from gaining a leg up.

Here’s the tough part: Nobody is going to force your business to use data. You have to consciously make the decision to shift your strategy. It’s going to take some work, but it could be the most important thing you do for your business.

Tips For Building Trust With Your Customers

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”— Zig Ziglar

I’ll never forget the time that I received an account statement in the mail from a company, and noticed a discrepancy in its billing policy. The company had made a rate adjustment, and failed to notify me of the change.

Suffice to say, I was not happy about this. But my anger was less focused on the rate adjustment, and more on the fact that the company failed to contact me in any way about the change. My initial response was to pick up the phone and immediately call customer support for an explanation.

The issue was eventually resolved. But as time went on, I couldn’t shake the lingering doubt in my mind about the organization I was doing business with. Eventually, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Part of why this feels so bad to a customer is that customers are used to being held to the strictest standards about billing and usage policies. For some businesses, services will cease when customer payments stop. So when customers do everything they are supposed to, and the company lets them down, it’s setting a double standard. You can’t punish a customer for failing to do something, and then do the same thing back.

What can you to do build trust with your customers in your contact center?

Here are some tips:

Protect your data: In one study, 76 percent of customers reported they would take their business elsewhere due to negligent data handling practices. As such, companies need to do everything in their power to prevent data leaks from happening. Around-the-clock network monitoring, cutting-edge cloud security tools and expert IT workers are all necessary for preventing cybersecurity issues.

Always keep promises: Sales associates and marketers tend to have a reputation for making exaggerated offerings to customers. To prevent this from happening, all sales and marketing assets should be reviewed by management and possibly even legal for accuracy and compliance. And all customer communications should be spot-checked to ensure that agents are making appropriate offers.

Always ask for input: One of the best ways to show customers that you care about them is to ask them for input about your company, its products and its services. By allowing the customer to give back, it shows that you value their opinion and are actively striving to make the customer better. It may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one.

Outsource: Sometimes, the easiest way to do something is to hire a company that specializes in providing that service. By outsourcing your contact center operations to a third party provider like InfoCision, you can rest assured knowing that your customers are in good hands with expert agents who are using the best technologies on the market.

To learn more about InfoCision, click here.  

 

What Happens After You Outsource Content?

Outsourcing a major part of your business like your contact center is a big undertaking. You will experience a big shift in the way your company operates, and possibly in your day to day schedule. So it’s important to have a roadmap planned to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes according to plan. Outsourcing projects, after all, can pick up steam very quickly.

At this point, let’s assume that your contact center outsourcing project is well underway. Your customer service team has long been notified about the change and re-allocated, and operations have been handed over to your new contact center solutions provider.

Here’s what you should do next:

Re-assess your service level agreement (SLA): If there is one thing we can’t stress enough, it’s making sure that your team has a solid understanding of the services it will receive from the contact center provider. As such, it’s important to take another look at your agreement even after it is finalized. You may notice some small mistakes in the contract that slipped through during negotiations, or important details regarding uptime and maintenance. Now is the time for team members to submit questions and resolve issues before the project continues. Some contracts, it should be noted, come with a temporary exit window.

Wipe your infrastructure: Your former contact center may have a lot of hardware sitting around, and some of it may contain sensitive customer data. Before you reassign or sell these machines to a third party reseller, make sure your IT department wipes all of the data from them. Otherwise, customer data could fall into the wrong hands — and you may not know it. Oftentimes, companies who rush to throw out their hardware suffer from data breaches months or years after getting rid of their equipment. Taking this simple step could save a great deal of trouble down the road.

Set up a meeting to discuss strategy: Contact your new customer service team, and introduce yourself. During this meeting, you’ll want to focus on forming a long-term donor outreach plan, customer service goals and basic program expectations. Let the team know that you want to be kept in the loop with reports and possibly even regular calls. Communication is one of the most important parts of outsourcing, and a strong contact center solutions provider will make it easy to keep you updated and informed.

Begin your new journey: Now it’s time to think about yourself for a moment. By outsourcing content, you will clear more room in your schedule to devote to higher-level customer related tasks. Are there any new projects that you have been looking to take on?

Do you have any questions about outsourcing? Click here.

Social Customer Service in the Contact Center: 7 Best Practices

A formal customer service social media group could be a boon to your contact center. It could be tasked with developing an efficient strategy to manage channels like Facebook and Twitter—to benefit customers and the business.

Assign members to the group who are socially savvy. For the uninitiated, social media can be intimidating, so give some of your in-house millennials (who grew up in the Digital Age) a shot at wrangling the social beast. Be sure, as well, to add experienced customer service staff to the team.

When handled skillfully, customer service via social media can enhance the customer experience and even create brand loyalty that is infectious. This is the potential impact of 24/7 customer access, instant communication and quick problem resolution.

In a nutshell, social can be a valuable ally for your brand, so it’s worth making the effort.

A very public forum

Social media is also a highly visible forum for disgruntled customers to complain.  A gripe can speed around a social platform, spreading vitriolic negativity wherever it goes. This is even more of a reason to manage social media for your brand.

You need to be where your customers are—both to boost engagement and to thwart destructive comments. And your customers are on social. In one JD Power survey of more than 23,000 online consumers, 67 percent of respondents claimed to have contacted a company via social media for support.

Customer expectations are rising when it comes to social media. It used to be a pleasant surprise when a brand responded to a customer care issue on social media. Now, it’s become de rigueur for companies, meaning that sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become important channels through which consumers solicit and receive customer service.

Social media and customer lifetime value

With social media in your pocket, you have a better chance of retaining customers—because you have a better chance of keeping them happy.

Here are seven ways to provide great customer service through social media:

  1. Choose the right platform(s): Determine where to focus your social media time and resources by searching for mentions of your brand within popular social sites. If your customers aren’t talking about your brand online, look for ways to include yourself in conversations and add something of value.
  2. Monitor for mentions: Use available tools to automate the process of searching for mentions. Collect and analyze customer activity to better understand their issues and to respond appropriately. Use insights to make decisions for improving customer service.
  3. Respond quickly: Your company size and industry vertical will affect your social metrics. You may need to sift through a lot of “noise.” You may also need a customer service platform that can integrate with social media and turn certain messages into tickets—with a caveat: In the fast-paced world of social media, speed of response is critical, so assign priority accordingly.
  4. Adjust your tone: Be friendly, but not too friendly. While chumminess, including emojis, is acceptable between friends and family, don’t necessarily expect a warm welcome when they come from your business. As a general rule of thumb, keep language concise and professional, but avoid canned responses and be personal. You may have to strike a different tone with each customer, adjusting based on the responses you receive. What tickles one person might offend another.
  5. Take heated issues offline: Customers can be unfair and demanding. Tactfully and quickly, take negative conversations offline before they do damage to your brand. Placate the customer while signaling to online observers that the issue is being handled. Don’t simply pass the customer to another channel, like email, as that can come off as rude and non-empathetic.
  6. Leverage your database: Save yourself time and make life easier for your customers by linking to knowledge base articles. Rather than explaining complex processes over social media, provide easy guides built to help. Furthermore, use your CRM software to leverage customer histories that can add value to social media conversations.
  7. Know when to switch to crisis mode: One or two complaints are manageable. If 100 customers are mentioning the same problem, it’s a crisis for your brand. Make sure you have a planned response: Have a trusted PR firm on retainer, or a company leader prepared to address customers directly.

Use these seven social media best practices to deliver great support on the social platforms that your customers already frequent. You’ll build stronger relationships and create more loyal customers.

How to Optimize Your Multichannel Contact Center

In response to customer demand, you’ve built multichannel support into your contact center. While the technology available today likely got you there easily enough, best practices for optimizing your multichannel service strategy have probably not been as easy to pin down.

Perhaps you’ve experienced trouble trying to link channels for reporting purposes, or train customer care Communicators on different channels, or maintain consistent answers across channels. Yet, now that multichannel contact centers have become the norm, best practices for tackling such concerns are emerging—such as unifying disparate applications.

Each new channel, like social media or SMS messaging, adds complexity to the contact center. When the various applications operate in siloes, support suffers. To improve the customer experience with your business, the applications must be integrated to ease communication. This allows you to tap into all the relevant data pertaining to an interaction and deliver it to the Communicator in advance, enabling him or her to more efficiently and effectively address the customer’s needs.

When customer information—from purchase history to social media activity to demographics—is made available at the Communicator’s desktop, you will begin to see an improved customer experience in your contact center. Customers aren’t repeating themselves, for one thing, leading to not only decreased frustration, but decreased average handling time (AHT) and increased first contact resolution (FCR).

What’s more, Communicators with a central user interface for accessing applications don’t need to dig for information while customers wait, which makes them more productive than their counterparts without central systems. This will also decrease AHT and boost customer satisfaction. Furthermore, providing your Communicators with a range of channels and content types will help keep them engaged. Plus, multiskilled Communicators provide you with resource flexibility at peak times.

Another challenge of managing multiple channels of communication is achieving a single view of the customer, so that contact can be tracked across channels. With a connected cloud service and CRM integrations, customers can call, then live chat, then email … without re-explaining their issues.

Although contact center leaders should ensure consistency in service across channels, and have an overall—not channel-by-channel—vision for the contact center, opportunities for improving the customer experience also exist within individual channels. We provide a few tips for maximizing the potential of various channels below:

Chat: Protect quality and attention to detail by handling no more than three or four Web chats at a time. Encourage rapport by integrating identifiers into the chat so the Communicator knows who the customer is from the get-go. Also, post hyperlinks into Web chat to route customers to rich media or a self-help page, which will enable self-service and decrease AHT. Develop policies for closing chats when it seems a client is no longer responding.

Social media: Leverage the skills of Communicators who already use social media extensively in their personal lives. Tailor responses to the individual but also keep a lid on drawn-out conversations; Communicators should focus on delivering service and, then, exit the social platform. Your integrated communication system should include the automatic forwarding of tweets and other social media messages to email to ensure they are not missed.  This is especially important if they contain negative material that must be addressed quickly to avoid damaging your brand’s reputation.

Text: Develop guidelines for “text speak”; the casual lingo used by customers isn’t appropriate for most businesses.

Read This Before Launching a New Channel!

Consumers are reaching out to contact centers today not just by phone, but using email, chat and social—to name a few avenues. How can your business derive revenue from tapping into these communications channels? That’s the question each organization’s decision makers must ponder before modernizing.

Start where you are. Are you a phone-only call center? If so, you’re practically a dinosaur. Providing customer support over multiple communications channels is standard operating procedure these days. A 2015 study by ICMI and LiveOps shows that 92 percent of contact centers support email, 59 percent chat, 49 percent Web, 46 percent self-service, 45 percent mobile and 42 percent social media.

If you are a phone-only call center, the best channel to add first is almost certainly chat. Chat is the clear winner over email and social when it comes to consumer preference. In fact, chat has become the leading contact source within the online environment, with 42 percent of customers using chat vs. email (23 percent) or another social media form (16 percent), according to J.D. Power.

The reason being that phone and chat have a common denominator: the ability to have a conversation in real time. This helps customers—hungry for instant gratification—resolve their issues efficiently.

If you’re gung-ho to update your contact center in one fluid motion, look for a solution that includes voice, chat, email and social by one provider. Employee training will be more succinct and usage consistent across the board.

If cost restricts such an option, large CRM and contact center vendors offer modular application suites or platforms that allow you to add new services as needed.

It’s easy enough to stay competitive and meet customer expectations by following this simple list of do’s and don’ts:

Do:

  • Keep up with the channels your customers are using;
  • Add chat if you can only add one channel;
  • Look for a solution with one application for all channels;
  • Pick a good routing and reporting platform to manage interactions from the same interface;
  • Consider more self-service if you have high volume and low sales per customer;
  • Invest more in high-touch services if you have high-end products or service; and
  • Automate a callback option for your IVR.

Don’t:

  • Keep waiting for the next big thing;
  • Prioritize email over chat;
  • Choose a separate solution for each channel;
  • Add a channel that costs more than it benefits the organization in customer satisfaction or up-sales;
  • Do what everyone else is doing (not all companies need the same features); and
  • Try brand-new unproven technology if you are a high-touch company with long-term customer relationships.

Once you’ve added a new channel, be sure to connect the dots between channels for the customer. Remember, too, that each channel requires different Communicator skill sets, and be prepared to provide training as each new channel is added.

The Omnichannel Contact Center: Three Changes You Need to Make

If someone were to ask you if your contact center is “multichannel,” what would you say? Most of us would probably say yes, noting that our services include voice calls, email, Web chat and social.

Now, if you were asked the same about “omnichannel,” is the answer yes or no? If you hedge and say something like, “We’re working on it,” you’d be in good company. Only 10 percent of contact center leaders surveyed for the 2015 Call Center IQ Executive Report on the Omnichannel Contact Center identified their center as omnichannel currently, and 25 percent said it topped their list of priorities for 2016.

When multichannel first came onto the scene, few people intended for the multitude of new channels to operate in isolation. In fact, omnichannel—which is the seamless integration of the channels to create an optimized customer experience—was probably the real goal all along. The challenges of providing a fully realized omnichannel experience, however, are not insignificant. Business leaders who want to succeed must be willing to make some fundamental changes before omnichannel can become a reality.

The Changes

In the push toward omnichannel, failures are bound to pop up along the way. To avoid being one of the fallen, take heed of the following list of the three biggest challenges faced by organizations as they strive to offer a more seamless customer experience, plus ideas on how to address them:

  1. Integrate the right channels. Many organizations start down the omnichannel road in an effort to keep up with customer service trends, forgetting about the real reason for the change, which is to support their customers. Thus they fall into the trap of trying to support too many channels without a bigger-picture strategy.

In reality, there’s no need for every business to utilize every channel, just the ones your customers prefer. There are too many channels—and too little time—to provide excellent support on all of them, so choose your channels wisely.

To do this you need a good understanding of your customer demographics. For instance, on which social media sites are your customers most active? If your product or service is business-related and you know most of your customers are on LinkedIn, you’ll want to be sure that your customers can reach you there. If you aren’t certain where they are, simply ask. A quick survey can give you all the information you need to get started.

  1. Overcome the organizational silos. In the beginning, the tactic of adding one channel after another made it easier to integrate new channels into contact center operations. But along with each channel came specialization (Communicators specifically trained to use it), ownership (a manager dedicated to its operation and success) and service goals (metrics specific to its use). Ultimately, those well-established channel divisions make it harder for all the channels to operate harmoniously.

While it’s not likely that one person would or could manage all the channels, organizational structures may require shifting to address a new mindset—one of working together.

  1. Incorporate the necessary technology. Those separate channels also pose a challenge for Communicators trying to provide the best customer experience possible. Barriers between channels make it difficult for Communicators to access knowledge and information that originates in a channel other than the one they’re currently in. If a customer making an online purchase is unable to complete the transaction due to a website malfunction, for example, or is confused about shipping or taxes, he or she might decide to call customer service or begin an online chat session. Without a way for Communicators to “see” the activity on all available channels easily and quickly, customers have to essentially start over, repeating themselves and possibly becoming frustrated.

Today’s technology tools can solve this problem. In the example above, Communicators could easily access information related to the website and pick up the transaction where the customer left off. In this way, knowledge across the organization can be leveraged to create a better customer experience.