Guest Article by David Potter, SVP – Business Development at Firstsource Solutions… In 2017, more and more businesses are putting the consumer at the heart of their organisations. In fact, a recent Gartner report has suggested that this year the majority of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator against competitors.
As a result, we’re seeing renewed focus on customer satisfaction and, in the contact centre industry, how outsourcing partners will work with brands to achieve this. In particular, many businesses are looking at what techniques and technologies will shape customer experience in 2017. So, what does the coming year have in store for the sourcing sector?
Developing digital skills
Digital is continuing to drive unprecedented changes in the way consumers expect to interact with their favourite brands. For the sourcing industry, this means that the next year is one to explore what tactics can be used to further integrate digital in the customer experience mix. In particular, we’ll see a special focus being placed on bespoke, value added customer experience solutions.
As a result, we can expect to see contact centres put a real emphasis on recruiting and growing digital talent in 2017. The modern customer increasingly wants interactions with brands to be as easy and as personal as messaging a friend. In 2017, it’ll be up to customer experience experts to find smart and efficient ways of doing this by taking the right expertise into their businesses. At Firstsource, we’re currently looking at how messaging can help our clients to deliver tailored customer communications in real-time, in addition to the traditional channels such as webchat.
Voice remains important
While appetite for digital services continues to grow, consumers still expect and demand a 360degree approach to customer experience. That’s why – for all the focus on digital – brands must continue to find ways that best serve customers across channels in the coming year.
This is especially important in certain sectors. A recent Accenture study shows a significant rise in people visiting bank branches for face-to-face advice. Perhaps most surprisingly, it’s the digital natives – generation Z (people aged between 18-21) – who are using their bank branch more than any other generation. It’s a cautionary tale for banks undergoing radical digital transformation, and shows the importance of keeping human and voice channels open, particularly for potentially sensitive queries around personal finance.
Technology to bridge channels
From social media to web chat, and phone to email – the number of options for a customer wanting to get in touch with a brand has increased significantly. This not only means more choice and greater convenience for the consumer, but also offers the businesses an opportunity to use how they interact with customers to stand out from the crowd.
But offering diverse channels is of little use to customers unless they are joined up throughout – as consumers now recognise this. In 2017, companies need to focus on going above multi-channel to become resolutely omnichannel. If a customer starts a journey on one channel, but then wants to continue on another, the transition should be seamless.
One way of marrying two channels is by making the most of analytics tools. Until data is collected and trends are spotted, disjointed and untracked interactions give no indication of the steps a brand needs to take to move customer satisfaction and loyalty forwards. Analytics tools deployed across speech and text can help to capture, measure, consolidate and analyse customer interactions, which can then be fed back to fine tune a journey. And by making the process as smooth and simple as possible, contact centres can move one step closer to provide the elusive perfect customer experience.
Build brand love through agent ambassadors
With customer experience now at the heart of marketing strategies, we’re beginning to see a real professionalisation of the contact centre industry. Customer service interactions are a rare opportunity to have a direct conversation with your customer, so it’s vital that you’re making the most of them – not only to drive up resolution rates, but also to boost overall customer satisfaction.
This comes down to offering the right professional training and empowering your agents on the frontline. Businesses will achieve the best results and see significant improvements to their customer journeys when advisors are equipped with the confidence to focus on finding solutions or answers, rather than the time it takes for them to do so. In 2017’s customer-centric world, providers must make sure that they are creating helpful brand ambassadors who are given the tools they need to find solutions for each and every customer.
David is Senior Vice President – Business Development at Firstsource Solutions, a leading global customer experience expert. David is responsible for developing long-term partnerships with new clients and has over 25 years’ experience in helping major businesses achieve better customer outcomes at lower cost.