Customer support is often considered a subset of customer service, but has the industry outgrown this approach?
Find out why it’s time to redefine the status quo and deliberately design adaptable future-ready customer support centres.
When customer service first started to move away from physical shops, welcoming staff and help desks, the driver was affordable phone calls and the subsequent surge in call volume.
This led to call centre support in the form of outsourced answering services to deal with incoming queries.
Customer service evolution and innovation have been driven, from the start, by reactive changes to customer needs.
The word service largely evokes two thoughts, benevolent acts of kindness or charity, or a response to an initiating factor such payment, queries or problems.
Modern customer service isn’t really either. Strong drivers are shifting the focus to building relationships, proactive outreach and guiding customers through the steps of their journey.
With AI highlighting the importance of nuance and semantics, maybe it’s time to pay more attention to terminology too.
Customer Support Centres Mean Moving From Yesterday’s Approach to Tomorrow’s Solution
Rapid query resolution will always be the goal of any interaction. However, the best way to provide that changes and there isn’t one universally satisfactory touchpoint or experience.
A set of one-size-fits-all services and journeys is not enough, regardless of quality. Developing customer support centres requires attention to detail: what do customers want, are they getting it and what strategies help provide that now while proactively preparing for the future?
What customers crave is not simply access to services. In March 2023, responses gathered from over 2000 European consumers reinforced that. Here are some of the key points highlighted in the report:
Satisfaction With Service, or Lack of It
“In Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK more people think customer service is getting worse than think it is getting better.”
“The gap is biggest in the UK (34% say worsened versus 18% say improved).”
“Younger customers (in their twenties and thirties) are considerably more positive about the direction of travel in customer service, as they tend to be earlier adopters of digital and self-serve channels.”
Regional and Industry-Related Variations in Perception
“Big variations in customer service ratings are observed between industries and between countries, but a consistent theme in every country is the gap between expectations and delivery in utilities and government, two sectors which are the most affected by global economic and social upheavals.”
“A substantial number of consumers are prone to becoming angry or upset when interacting with a human advisor, particularly in Spain and France.
“In times of widespread financial difficulty and general uncertainty, it has never been more important to address root causes and protect the contact centre front line.”
Tough times and variations in opinion driven by age, location and industry underscore the need for appropriate care and personal choice in order to drive up satisfaction levels.
For customers to feel supported by contact centres, personalisation is paramount. However, demographics and personas can play a vital role as well.
Personalised Support Centres Are the Future of Customer Care
Everyone is an individual, and maximising the opportunity for customer support strategies to personalise experiences is a huge factor in providing appropriate care.
No one should be in doubt, though, that personalisation involves a whole lot more than simply inserting someone’s name into a conversation, email or instant message. A crucial element is being able to choose how to interact.
Channel choice is not only highly personal and contextual, there are also clear demographic and generational trends.
That’s why spending time exploring customer personas can be so valuable alongside voice of customer programmes, and especially as the digitally savvy proportion of society increases.
In light of both current needs and the potential for change, optimizing contact centre operations involves offering parallel and interlinking journeys across different channels.
This not only enhances operational efficiency but also addresses the contextual needs of customers, introducing a flexible and future-ready framework.
With the huge potential of AI, consumer pressure, and the return on investment which comes from prioritising high-quality customer service, organisations are moving fast to shift from sets of services that simply address issues to support centre innovation with customer care strategies which promote positive experiences and outcomes.
The great thing is that there are already a whole host of ways to promote personalised and supportive customer care in contact centres:
- Proactive Engagement: anticipating needs is the epitome of a change in approach from service to support and reduces the potential for negative sentiment or experiences to build up.
- Stronger Relationships: treating each interaction as an opportunity to build loyalty highlights the true value of providing the right level of support.
- Accurate Context: organisations can investigate contact drivers using AI integrated into qualification, because assumptions undermine appropriate care.
- Enhanced Experiences: personalised solutions, quick resolution and empathetic connection are all hallmarks of support not service, and new AI solutions working alongside agents help achieve that.
- Feedback Loops: voice of customer programmes are essential to a cycle of effective continuous improvement, providing invaluable insights into what works and what doesn’t.
- Query Resolution: rapid resolution is ideal, but most of the time the right resolution is better. Support means appropriate care, relevant advice and the right solution. Great training and AI suggestions make this even easier.
- Agent Development: in a support-centred environment, skills and knowledge on both the individual and team level are crucial to satisfaction on both sides of the equation.
- Channel Balance: omnichannel services allow flowing conversations which, when contact patterns change, can be easily re-optimised to manage peaks in volume.
- Performance Tracking: key performance indicators are an indispensable tool for monitoring trends and making real-time decisions. Customer support is being impacted by factors inside or outside the contact centre.
Support is inherently customer-centric, and contact centres that prioritise building relationships, understanding and meeting customer needs will adapt and thrive.
CCaaS Solutions Enhance Support Centre Innovation
Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions are designed to orchestrate amazing customer experiences. Cloud-based and natively omnichannel, solutions make providing channel choice a way to resolve pain points rather than introduce them.
To further enhance the support customers receive, contact centres can leverage CCaaS solutions to help integrate AI alongside journeys and experiences.
Understanding caller intent, making next-step suggestions to agents and tracking KPIs in real-time put cutting-edge technology to work providing next-level care.This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Odigo – View the Original Article
For more information about Odigo - visit the Odigo Website
Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.