It may seem that we talk a lot about trends in our Spoken blogs, and a quick search of our blog archive would certainly confirm that, but trends are an interesting phenomenon in that they act as a teacher of sorts when it comes to learning about what’s happening in an industry, or the world for that matter. Plus, watching trends helps us to know what steps should be taken in order to “ride the wave” of the trend instead of getting “swept away” in it.
Let’s take, for example, the issue of Customer Service. In recent years, the function of customer service has trended away from a single department/cost center to a primary marketing function of an organization. What’s brought about this change? In a recent article by Tricia Morris, consumers now tend to value customer service and customer experience even more than they value a product or a good price. Consumers are much more savvy than they used to be; they have the ability to shop multiple sites to compare products and prices and once they’ve found what they want, the process of making a purchase then becomes all about how quickly and easily they are able to do this and how well they are treated should an issue arise with their order. Additionally, this article points out that 90% of consumers expect consistency and continuity from a brand across channels. That means regardless of how a customer contacts you via phone, e-mail, live chat or a social media platform, they expect the experience to be exactly the same.
These changes in customer expectations have been the driving force behind the call center’s shift from single department to a more front and center marketing function. Interestingly enough, however, not all contact centers have implemented a multi-channel integration that provides a consistent experience across platforms. Additionally, many contact centers are still lagging behind when it comes to training their agents across multiple channels or equipping them to make on-the-spot decisions that will assist the customer.
Considering that this customer trend will not be going away anytime soon, it’s important to implement some customer service principles that will enable your organization to grow with the trend instead of getting lost in it. This requires a commitment from all levels of the company and is the process by which you make your customer service move from a “back-office” department to a front and center marketing function. Here are a few specifics:
Empower Employees: Leaders need to train their customer-facing employees to know what they are doing, what they can offer and where to go to get the information they need to assist the customer.
Insights: Leaders need to equip the customer-facing employees with access to key customer insights that will make the customer experience more personal. This should include customer profiles on the products and services they use and analytic tools to view customer history.
Mobility: Customers are mobile and customer service should be as well. Leaders who monitor trends will see the importance of a mobile customer service department that is ready to connect and engage with customers on any platform with any device.
Empowering employees to serve the customer requires leadership from the top down that embraces trends, uses multiple channels to engage your customers and training all of your employees to be customer centric. Leaders who have moved with the call center trends have reaped the benefits and built a company that is seen as a leader in customer service.