Customer service: make smart investments in 2017

By Harry Allan

While in the past few years Australian brands have made efforts to improve the quality of their customer service and bring it in line with the requirements of the digital age, most of them are still lagging behind and struggle to offer experiences that match the customers’ expectations.

A recent Pegasystems survey revealed that even Government departments in ANZ have better customer experiences than most brands. LogMeIn research also pointed out that customer service in Australia is getting worse, with 90 percent of Australian customers reporting that they have stopped doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.

We are seeing particular efforts from brands in the retail, telecom, and financial services space trying to increase customer loyalty and tap into new revenue sources by offering new digital services through multiple channels. With this in mind, it is key that brands invest in the right technologies and follow some best practices to set their customer service up for success in 2017.

Invest in testing technologies to anticipate your worst-case scenario

The first step in building a modern and efficient customer service is to invest in testing – especially load testing – at the early stages of the customer service channel and platform development. Testing can help brands identify and eliminate any hidden issues that may occur in the implementation process, and which often only show up unexpectedly once a new platform is live.

Anything from calls dropping out, misdirection of online live chat requests, or a failure in a mobile app’s CRM backend can be identified prior to launch.

By identifying defects earlier in the development cycle, organisations can dramatically improve the quality of customer service and avoid losing customers due to simple technical issues. When potential issues are not anticipated, the whole customer service platform could be taken offline to be fixed. This is when brands’ reputations, sales, and customer loyalty take a hit.

Load testing ultimately helps design platforms that will provide a smooth experience to customers, no matter the reason they are trying to get in touch with the brand or the platform they’re using.

Real-time monitoring and regular check-ins are a must

Most of the time, brands assume that if customers are reaching the customer service team, everything is running smoothly. But what happens when customer service channels are bombarded with unusually heavy traffic?

In the omnichannel era, a smooth and flawless customer experience means that you can submit a request through a phone call, follow up its progress online, and maybe decide to interact with the customer service agent through a mobile app. Because all channels are seamlessly linked, an issue in your call centre system can disrupt your entire customer service chain.

Once again, regular load test check-ins are vital here. Real-time monitoring can uncover serious hidden issues that can cause a catastrophic failure, and help brands resolve these before customers are affected.

Focus on the right metrics

To get the customer experience right, businesses must learn from the customer, look at the data, and listen to the feedback that provides insights into actual customer experiences. When it comes to observing the data and feedback, there are four metrics that brands should observe:

1. Relational Net Promoter Score (NPS)

This is the Holy Grail for measuring customer feedback. It is an enterprise‐wide metric that measures a customer’s relationship with the entire company or brand.

2. Transactional Net Promoter Score (TNPS)

This is a less common but very important score. It is tied to a specific transaction and examines how that transaction impacts the customer’s relationship with your company or brand.

3. First Contact Resolution

This is the quantitative measurement of the number of requests that could be resolved without having to be transferred. This measurement has important implications for how the customer “feels” about the company.

4. Customer Effort

This is a subjective measurement of how hard the customer perceives the customer journey for a single transaction to be.

Sales conversion metrics and brand loyalty numbers are what matter to brands. To achieve their goals, marketers should spend time monitoring the above metrics, as they are directly linked to the experience customers have of a brand. While backend technical issues should be the worry of IT teams, it is important that marketers also take responsibility in overseeing these aspects of the customer service chain.

More and more channels and technologies are being used to help consumers interact with brands, and new ones like chatbots will invade the market in 2017. It is marketers’ responsibility to ensure that proper investments are made at the early stages of development and integration.

They need to work alongside IT teams to make sure everything goes smoothly once it is up and running, and set up meaningful KPIs that will help make necessary adjustments and identify discrepancies that might impact the bottom line.

By Alok Kulkarni, CEO of Australian customer service expert Cyara

Business Review Australia's December issue is now live. 

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