Importantly, customers are spreading the word willingly and widely when they experience good service. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, customers are more inclined to talk about a positive experience than complain about a negative one.
Which of these statements is true?
Contact center employees are a vital link to the customer. Through the way they exercise their talents, knowledge, and resources, they are uniquely positioned to influence customer perceptions of the enterprise and build or diminish the brand promise.
Contact center employees are among the most poorly paid and under- appreciated employees in the enterprise. They have limited career growth opportunities, are measured and evaluated more frequently than any other group of employees, and incur the highest turnover rates.
Of course, both are true in most organizations.
Benchmark research from Richard Snow at Ventana Research shows that for phone interactions, “the primary negative experiences for customers are waiting a long time in a queue, navigating through a complex interactive voice response (IVR) system, having to repeat information, talking with an agent who has a bad attitude, being passed from repeatedly from one system or agent to another and most of all, not getting the issue resolved. Conversely, good experiences include talking with a pleasant, knowledge agent and getting the issue resolved at the first contact. Beyond that, excellent experiences include having the agent recognize you, know all about you (including your past interactions regardless of the channel of communication) and personalize the response (such as making a special offer).”
So the role of the agent is a critical cog in the customer experience. Why don’t more contact centers take steps to better equip agents to do a better job/deliver better experiences? And why don’t more organizations elevate and recognize the contact center and its employees for the important role played in customer experience and brand promise delivery? In my opinion, a disproportionate investment is made by marketing in communicating the brand and the brand promise, and not enough is invested in ensuring the contact center employee can deliver the right experience when a customer contacts them. If you invest millions in brand marketing but your employees can’t consistently deliver good, or even great experiences, the marketing investment is worthless. What do you think?
This week I’m simply doing what every company wishes you would do after buying their product or service. I’m going to rave about it.
Bring them to their feet with intelligent guidance
Contact centers have always relied on scripting to lead agents through interactions. But lately, a new term has joined the contact center lexicon: intelligent guidance. So what’s the difference?
Think of scripting as a newbie actor reading off of a page in an almost painful, grating manner. This actor simply reads off the script, standing solo on the stage, but doesn’t come across as knowledgeable, believable or engaging.
Guidance is a completely different level of performance. Think of guidance as the brilliant, experienced actor, who—along with an insightful director, a skillful supporting cast, and costumes, make-up, and sets—brings a performance to life in a way that brings the audience to its feet, asking for more. They tell friends and family about the incredible experience. This is what you want customers who interact with your contact center to do. Ideally, you want each experience to be so powerful, so memorable, that customers seek to do more business with you and freely and openly tell others about it as well. We want raving fans.
It is Cincom’s view that every time you interact with a customer, you have an opportunity to either strengthen and build your brand, or destroy it. You simply cannot risk leaving the customer experience to chance. Intelligent and personalized agent guidance helps ensure that the experiences you design are delivered consistently and intentionally.
Intelligent guidance goes well beyond scripting in a number of ways. First, it not only provides written guidance about what to say to a customer, it overlays the supporting applications used in a conversation so that the agent does not have to weave in and out of multiple applications to get to the appropriate information. The agent can enter or change information within the guidance center, and it automatically updates all appropriate systems and databases.
Second, working behind the scenes are powerful process automation, workflow, and decision modeling so that a great deal of the complexity and time consuming activities that often lead to poor customer experiences are stripped out of the conversation. This equips the agent with the recommendations, offers, and answers that the customer will truly appreciate and value. By equipping an average agent to work through complex questions and issues, it minimizes the need to engage knowledge experts in complex calls which results in delays and frustration. The result is a more effective conversation and a better customer experience.
Third, instead of harnessing agents into a specific script, it empowers agents to engage with customers and deliver better experiences. The guidance center not only automates and personalizes each conversation, but it creates a single, unified desktop for an agent to access any and all relevant data about a customer, orders, and products. Agents get fingertip access to the resources they need to work in an efficient and meaningful manner. This greatly reduces agent frustration and we have found that when agent frustration is reduced, job satisfaction and customer experiences go up.
So in the end, it is agent guidance that is critical to ensuring your employees are equipped to deliver experiences that are consistent, intentional, personalized, differentiated, and valuable—all hallmarks of a successful customer experience.
It’s long-overdue for organizations to recognize that a customer-experience-focused contact center will return huge dividends versus a traditional cost-focused business unit.
A few thoughts on what you can do to help guide winning customer experiences, again and again. Great customer experience helpful hints: culture, guidance, don’t hide, visibility, and no silos.
Why are some organizations slower to adopt intelligent desktop technology— technology that is proven to improve customer experience? Cincom’s Customer Experience Management team provides some insights.