Our panel of experts share their tips for improving digital customer service.
1. Add Value to Your Self-Service Channels
Begin by focusing on your existing self-service assets and look for opportunities to improve their value. While it may be as simple as updating your FAQs, you could go as far as adding chatbots to a pop-up live chat facility.
Live chat pop-ups, which can be timed so they appear when a customer has added to their basket but is taking a long time to check out, for example, can be effective in removing any new customer doubts.
Live chat pop-ups, which can be timed so they appear when a customer has added to their basket but is taking a long time to check out, for example, can be effective in removing any new customer doubts. However, although this can be valuable, it will create a number of new contacts to handle.
By automating these conversations, at least until the customer expresses an emotion – which can be detected, so the customer is then passed through to a human advisor – contact centres can better manage their resources while adding value to self-service.
2. Act on Customer Feedback
Think about the conversations you have with customers, listen to your advisors, become a mystery shopper yourself and try out the contact centre to discover the channels and technology that really matter.
When gathering this feedback from within the contact centre, ask yourself:
- Can customers find the information they need and the products they want to buy quickly and efficiently?
- How does your own website look?
- Are your FAQs up to date?
- Would IVR help them self-serve round the clock?
By asking these questions, it’s easier to find conclusions. For example, if you conclude that most of your customers prefer a human voice, make the most of CRM integration and skills-based routing to get customers the answers they want first time around.
3. Add Emotional Intelligence Into the Job Spec
There’s little point in spending time and money on new digital channels, if the human skills of the advisors behind them are causing negative experiences.
When recruiting new advisors, look for candidates with high levels of emotional intelligence. These are the ones who instinctively understand how the customer is feeling and use that information to find the right words to influence a positive result.
While many contact centres may look to hire extrovert advisors, as they can bring great energy to a phone call, a better quality is emotional intelligence, as advisors with this skill can more easily build rapport and create better relationships.
Thanks to Colin Hay at Puzzel
4. Use Web Analytics to Drive Your Digital Engagement Strategy
The engagement strategies you employ in the contact centre directly affect the number and type of contacts that need to be addressed. So, it’s important that the decisions you make, and thereby the solutions you deploy, are based on real data.
Web analytics can show you something as simple as how long visitors stay on your site, where most abandons occur or which banners are getting clicks.
Web analytics can show you something as simple as how long visitors stay on your site, where most abandons occur or which banners are getting clicks, to more complex insights infused with business data like which chats result in sales during an interaction, or even within hours following an interaction.
So, whether you are interested in engaging more customers to drive satisfaction, trying to “contain” more customers via self-service or increasing revenue by targeting only the customers with the highest lifetime value, using web analytics can help you improve your digital customer experience while achieving your other business goals.
5. Make Channel Switching Easy
Omnichannel contact centres will soon move past relying on customers to pick their channel of choice to a model where they enable the right channel at every stage of the contact life cycle.
With this being the case, the customer experience should allow for a fluid movement between channels. To accomplish this the contact centre should:
i. Enable advisors to enhance the conversation with other channels and manage it all as a single omnichannel session.
ii. Leverage channels simultaneously. Send a link via SMS or a confirmation via email while on a chat and/or voice call.
iii. Care for reporting and analytics so that the interaction is seen as a single omnichannel conversation.
This focus on the right channel at the right stage of the customer journey allows the contact centre to optimise the customer experience and boosts First Contact Resolution (FCR).
Thanks to Mike Harwell at NICE inContact
6. Create Personas and Run Them Through Your Digital Journey
A common assumption that many businesses make is that digital channels are just for the younger generation, yet this isn’t necessarily the case.
We are all on a digital journey, but we’re at different stages. So, digital channels need to be designed for everyone, and you can test how well your digital strategy is suited to different sections of your customer base by creating personas.
Personas, which are characters created to represent a section of your customer base, are great for analysing the emotional experience, as well as the functional experience.
Run through different customer journeys across different channels as these different personas and look out for any moments of friction along the way. Removing moments of negative emotion is key.
7. Measure Sentiment and Be Wary of the Peak-End Rule
While most organisations look to remove moments of friction within the journey, some forget the “peak-end rule” and do not add any rewards to the digital journey.
Removing friction is great, but if you don’t have positive peaks in customer emotion, by adding rewards, you will not be able to secure loyalty, as everyone else is also focusing on lowering effort. It’s best to have rewards that differentiate your service offering.
However, if the journey is purely digital, it’s harder to find ways of creating and adding peaks of emotion. So, think about more innovative ways of adding value that are embedded into the journey. Helpful proactive notifications is an example of a way to add value.
You can measure your peaks in positive emotion, to ensure that they are there, by combining customer feedback with sentiment analysis data (if possible). This will help you to ensure that your peaks in positive emotion outweigh those moments of friction.
Your personas will also help with this. If you can run through your journey and note your top rewards and frictions, you’ll be able to quantify whether or not your positive peaks are enough to nullify the “negative troughs”.
Thanks to Ashley Unitt at NewVoiceMedia
8. Understand the Customer Journey and Why Customers Are Switching Channels
When your customers start a transaction online or via a mobile app, they want to be able to complete their transaction within that channel. However, many times they are unable to do so and are forced to contact you via a phone or chat channel for further assistance.
In contact centre, it is normal to hear comments like: “I don’t know why we get so many calls related to buying a ticket when our customers can easily do so via our mobile app or our website.”
Upon deeper analysis, there is often another related event that complicates the transaction and causes a channel switch, such as – using the example above – the customer being unable to use a discount code.
Understanding the co-occurrence of such related events to the main transaction is key to designing a digital solution that solves not just the most basic intents, but the more complicated scenarios that may result in channel switching.
9. Use Feedback to Prioritise Opportunities
As the old adage goes: “You cannot fix what you cannot measure”. Similarly, you cannot enhance what you don’t fully understand.
When embarking on the journey to enhance digital effectiveness, it is essential to listen to all sources of feedback in order to prioritise opportunities that will have the highest impact on the customer experience.
There are many ways that you can do this, including customer research, social listening and specialised customer feedback tools.
Action-oriented organisations can create a priority matrix that ranks each digital opportunity along the two dimensions of customer impact and level of effort.
Using the techniques above, action-oriented organisations can create a priority matrix that ranks each digital opportunity along the two dimensions of customer impact and level of effort.
An opportunity that is deemed to have a high customer impact but will only require a low to medium level of effort to implement quickly jumps up the prioritisation list.
10. Investigate the Impact Artificial Intelligence May Have on Your Service
Chatbots provide a way for customers to self-serve on known issues, or to collect important information that facilitates a seamless transition to an advisor. This type of innovation is experiencing significant growth and is a growing topic of conversation.
You can train your chatbots to improve your customer experience in a variety of ways. By understanding customer “intent” during a live chat interaction or phone call, you can start identifying opportunities for chatbot automation. You can also listen for the words that customers use to express frustration and high effort while accomplishing a task.
Once you understand these linguistic patterns, you can train chatbots to express empathy and to route a frustrated customer to an advisor with a skill set that specialises in the particular topic that is causing frustration.
Thanks to Shorit Ghosh at Clarabridge
11. Investigate and Appreciate Customer Preferences
Let’s take a common scenario: a customer may call because they got stuck on your website. They’ll expect a fast response but often have to choose an option from the IVR menu and then wait in a queue. This happens a lot.
Imagine that then, when the customer finally gets through, they’re told they’ve got the wrong department and need to ring in again – very frustrating!
This has happened to many of us, but there are several things you can do about it: invite a customer to chat if they’re stuck on your website. If no one is available to deal with webchat, push up a notification inviting customers to provide their phone number and automate a call-back.
If a customer has to call, check that your IVR menu options are clear and cover all your customers’ most likely issues (listen to your call and screen recordings for ideas) – it’s useful to allow them to hold for the next available advisor if they’re unsure, rather than leaving them in limbo. Another nice IVR addition is a message with the option to schedule a call-back.
It is also good to have a system which automatically finds data on your CRM about the customer – including the fact that they have already been to the webchat facility – to intelligently route them to the most appropriate advisor.
Above all, listen and learn from customer complaints and ensure your advisors can transfer calls.
12. Don’t Wait for the Customer to Come to You
This is best illustrated when a customer goes elsewhere to get a new policy because their existing company didn’t do enough to remind them their policy is coming up for renewal. Or a contact misses an appointment because they forgot about it.
To optimise your digital effectiveness, don’t wait for the customer to come to you – be proactive and use a wide range of outbound channels to help your customers. They’ll usually welcome outbound contact – a text message, and email or a phone call – when the company has used its knowledge of them to provide an improved experience.
Use your CRM and outbound dialler to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time; reach them where they are on one channel and take them to where you want them to be.
Thanks to Ken Reid at Rostrvm Solutions
13. Ensure Customers Don’t Have to Repeat Their Information
Channel switching and having to repeat context after the switch increases customer effort by 30% and 60% respectively, according to Gartner. It is therefore important to deliver a connected customer service across touchpoints.
A classic example of how contact centres fail do to this is when a virtual assistant is not able to answer the customer’s question, so then the customer has to repeat the question and their information to the advisor.
The most efficient way to connect channels is to go with a unified omnichannel platform. With such a platform you can more easily add in useful capabilities like co-browse.
Co-browse allows an advisor to share their screen with an advisor if they switch to the video channel. This enables advisors to help customers fill out online forms securely.
Thanks to Anand Subramaniam at eGain
14. Analyse How Well Digital Channels Fit Into Customer Journeys
To improve digital effectiveness, organisations need to understand how well their digital channels work with their customers’ whole journey and expectations of an effortless and personalised experience.
Digital self-service tools such as online chat can be analysed in real time, allowing the contact centre to gain valuable insight into customer behaviour and their expectations.
For example, analysing interactions can help employees predict what a customer is looking for based on their past conversation.
Also, it can be used to identify the root causes of customer dissatisfaction. This will enable organisations to take a targeted approach to meeting the self-service needs that customers desire and to personalise interactions to provide great customer experience.
Thanks to Kenneth Briscoe at NICE
15. Install Predictive Routing
While using AI to automate repeatable tasks like making payments and checking order status can be wildly efficient, it has not replaced the need for human to human contact. Interactions where more complex or nuanced issues arise, for example, are best suited to human agents.
A solution such as Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI which has powerful natural language understanding (NLU) works with advanced predictive routing from Genesys to establish the path a customer should be guided down, based on their behaviour.
Using elements of both companies’ AI, It understands consumers’ intent and matches them to a smart bot, human agent or a combination of the two – whichever is best-equipped to provide the outcome the business wants.
Blended AI solutions such as this can transform the quality of customer service for all major organisations.
Thanks to Rik McCrossan at Genesys
16. Implement Interaction Analytics
Organisations can stand out from the crowd by using headsets and software that truly utilise analytics.
Analytics can help contact centre advisors deal with customers. For example, if the customer is becoming angry, the technology can detect this and advise the advisor how best to deal with the situation. This type of innovation will surely give organisations the edge against competitors while also boosting the digital customer experience.
By placing the responsibility and accountability of an advisor’s performance literally at their fingertips, managers can track performance, intervene when necessary and also allow staff to learn, develop and grow as experts in their field.
Thanks to Nigel Dunn at Jabra
17. Install an Omnichannel Platform
Organisations looking to improve their digital effectiveness should consider centralising all of the available channels into a single platform. This will help them to gain a better understanding of the different interactions customers are having with the business and use that data to improve both the customer and advisor experience.
Also, having such context helps to minimise effort on both sides and ensures the fastest resolution possible – across whichever channels come into play before, during or after the interaction.
The benefits of offering an integrated omnichannel customer service include a better collection of data, smoother channel switching and better personalisation of contacts.
Thanks to Brent Bischoff at Business Systems
18. Consider Conversational Artificial Intelligence
Today more than ever before, brands are competing on experience – how customers engage with a brand and what makes that experience unique. Different or more personal is what sets successful enterprises apart from those that will eventually become obsolete.
So, how can organisations build a more personalised and customer-friendly engagement strategy – without breaking the bank and hiring an army of service advisors? Conversational AI can help.
By understanding how customers are engaging on each channel and connecting those experiences through a unified intelligence platform, companies can use Conversational AI to design conversations that can quickly resolve inbound queries, build loyalty and grow opportunities to up-sell, balancing human conversations and automated self-service.
Thanks to Sebastian Reeve at Nuance Communications
For more from our panel of experts, read our articles: