Does Too Much Technology Disrupt Interpersonal Communications?

Have you ever gone out to lunch or dinner and noticed that nearly everyone in the restaurant is using his or her smartphones? There’s a good chance that you’ve experienced this exact same situation, as we’ve all been guilty of being a little too attached to technology at some time or another.

But, with that said, technology has become an important part of our lives, helping us connect with others and work more efficiently. But is our addiction to technology disrupting interpersonal communication? According to a recent Harris survey, the answer is “yes.”

According to the survey results, 71 percent of respondents believe technology has improved their quality of their life. However, almost three-quarters of U.S. adults also believe that technology has become too distracting, even millennials (18-35) seem to agree according to the survey.

What’s more, a strong majority of respondents agree that technology is corrupting interpersonal communications (69 percent) and having a negative impact on literacy (59 percent) with these figures highest among baby boomers.

So what do these survey findings mean for contact centers? It’s quite simple; businesses must ensure that they’re maintaining a healthy balance between technology and human interaction.

While self-service technology is great for certain situations—for example, when a customer needs to check on their bill or status of a delivery—others situations call for communication with a live Communicator.

It’s for this reason why it’s extremely important that businesses offer various different communication channels to cater to consumers needs, such as live chat, social media, and telephone service.

While technology has certainly changed the customer care industry, it hasn’t lessened the need for Communicators. There are certain situations in which technology just can’t offer the same quality of customer care and, in these scenarios consumers need the help of a live, experienced Communicator to help solve their problem.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Three Customer Care Missteps to Avoid

There’s a saying in business that “any press is good press.” In other words, all publicity, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, works to build brand awareness and generate revenue.

Is there any merit to this saying? In some cases, there is; for example, a celebrity like Donald Trump accepts this idiom as fact it would appear, as he draws attention to himself frequently by ill-begotten means. There is absolutely no place for incorporating this notion into your strategy, however, in the customer care space as negative press about customer care can only hurt your brand.

Here’s why:

Customers want to be treated fairly and kindly. If you don’t treat customers with this respect, they will find other providers who will. Furthermore, they will be quick to share their opinions about your brand and the quality of customer care they receive over social media, leading to further negative press. Bad reviews can hurt your business’s reputation and thus hamper future lead-generation efforts.

It’s important, therefore, that you put a great deal of effort into making sure your customers are happy and well cared for. You need to nurture your customer relationships just like you would personal relationships, that is, by providing great experiences as well as clear and consistent communication. In doing so, you will gain a reputation as a customer-centric organization and a great company with which to do business.

Avoid the following customer care missteps that could derail your customer care efforts:

  1. Playing “pass the customer”: Fewer things are more frustrating than waiting on hold, only to be transferred two or more times during a single call. Oftentimes, this occurs when agents are unable to assist with certain requests; to add insult to injury, the maneuvering during these types of calls typically results in them being dropped. The customer then has to call back (unless he or she decides to simply take his or her business elsewhere). You can prevent this problem by investing in skills-based routing software, which will automatically link callers with the agents best-suited to assist them.
  2. Neglecting your multichannel touch points: Your brand may have a killer website, but is its mobile application functioning? How about its social channels? Customers today want to interact with brands over multiple touch points. Therefore, it’s critical that you maintain each touch point for quality and respond to customer inquiries (like messages, Facebook likes and tweets) in a timely fashion.
  3. Allowing agent apathy: It doesn’t feel very good when you call a contact center for assistance and the agent who greets you sounds bored to tears. Remember that agents are direct brand ambassadors, as they are often the first people with whom your customers engage. Therefore, agents need to sound alert and motivated at all times. Accordingly, foster a strong sense of pride in your agents by treating them well and giving them the resources they need to excel at their jobs. When you create a first-class environment for your agents, they will give back to your organization by treating customers better and helping create better experiences.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

The Top Customer Care Trends Contact Centers Must Consider

Due to the recent advancements in the contact center space from more intuitive technology to more strategic multichannel marketing services, organizations have been able to adjust their brand focus to what (or who) truly matters most: the customer.

In fact, Forrester’s report “Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service” suggests that customer-forward technology and communication methods are becoming increasingly omnipresent in the customer care industry—as they should be to improve the customer experience. After all, technology and marketing tools are meant to help your agents have more meaningful conversations with clients to bolster their satisfaction with your brand.

The report highlights a number of customer care trends that will continue to develop throughout 2015. Below are the three that will impact contact center customer care most:

  • Customers Embrace Emerging Channels to Reduce Friction: A great many of today’s consumers prefer to make customer care inquiries on the go. As such, contact centers must ensure they provide their consumers will a multitude of avenues for connecting with agents. For example, adding supplemental services such as live Web chat or texting services to your telecommunications services will provide consumers with more flexible options. By providing these multichannel services, your consumers will feel empowered to make customer care inquiries over the platforms they prefer.
  • Companies Explore Proactive Engagement: This trend regards the emergence of proactive engagements that anticipate the “what, where and how” for customers. In the contact center space, this means leveraging predictive analytics so that agents—whether handling the phone lines or answering live chat queries—can better prepare themselves to address queries efficiently. This also means using insights derived from predictive analysis to boost your multichannel marketing efforts. For instance, by using data to understand consumers’ needs, you can leverage email marketing, for example, to send potential customers messages about your brand that resonate with them before they even realize they need your products or services.
  • Predictive Analytics Will Power Offers, Decisions and Connections: This trend further encompasses predictive analysis at the technological level. More specifically, organizations will use predictive analysis as a catalyst for more in-depth levels of data analysis. For example, in the contact center space, predictive analysis can be used to match a consumer to his or her most suitable customer service agent. This process—or what we at InfoCision refer to as skills-based routing—helps streamline customer care interactions so that agents with the most experience in specific fields are linked to customers with inquiries in those areas. As a result, agents are able to make more informed decision and furthermore, establish more meaningful connections with consumers.

In summary, contact center leaders should focus on implementing more data analytics into their strategies as well as utilizing multichannel marketing channels more effectively to drive customer satisfaction and boost their bottom lines.

Want more industry insight and advice? Explore the rest of our blog!

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

 

Going Back to School on Contact Center Best Practices

With autumn around the corner, students across the country have grabbed their backpacks and headed back to school for a new year of learning.

For the first few weeks of the school year teachers will review old material to ensure students remember what they learned last year before they move ahead to new topics. In that spirit, we decided that a refresher course on best practices for generating greater contact center services ROI would be a good idea. So let’s start the review!

Have the Right People Answering Calls

Hiring inexperienced or undertrained contact center employees may save you a little money upfront, but in the long run it’s almost certainly going to negatively impact your bottom line. Cultivating relationships with customers and putting them at ease on calls requires an acquired skill set that takes a combination of robust training and work experience. That is why InfoCision works harder to ensure our Communicators are as well prepared as possible to speak to customers. Our contact center workers:

  • Have an average age of over 40 years; an average tenure of more than 4.5 years; and 78 percent are full-time employees
  • Receive up to four months of client-specific training and are brand experts by the time training is complete
  • Are provided the opportunity to earn performance-based compensation and, as such, are committed to the highest level of professionalism

Take a Multichannel Approach 

The ability to gather and analyze large quantities of information is quickly becoming a prerequisite for contact center success. Trying to provide customers with great service—and take advantage of possible opportunities for cross-selling and upselling—without big data analytics today is akin to stumbling around in the dark. Although it may seem like an overwhelming task, a multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision is equipped with the technology and know-how to sort through the noise and pull out actionable data from the mountain of information contact center interactions create.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief trip back to the contact center classroom! To find out more about what InfoCision can offer your business, please contact us.  Your company may make a fantastic product or offer a great service that customers love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that running a contact center is one of your core competencies. Trying to learn how to operate a contact center on the fly or simply “winging it” is not a good idea, just as another company trying to replicate your business model without the necessary expertise would likely end in failure. InfoCision has decades of expertise in customer service and multichannel marketing and can help you establish a first-class contact center.

Embrace Big Data Analytics

Today’s customers expect to be able to reach your company through email, phone calls, social media, direct mail and every other channel known to man. That is an expectation your organization must meet, unless you’re willing to risk losing these consumers to competitors that offer multichannel service. Customer service and marketing are evolving, and the only two options a business has are to adapt or struggle mightily.