Since it’s the season for wishing, chances are pretty good that many customers are wishing for better customer service. Since it’s also the season for buying, many of them are likely to be doubtful that their wish will come true.
Customer service is getting worse, not better, and customers are getting angrier, as several recent studies have found. American businesses are losing an estimated $41 billion a year in sales thanks to the lousy customer service experiences they are offering customers (according to recent research from cloud customer service company NewVoiceMedia (News - Alert).)
Given that bad customer service leads to lost sales opportunities, companies should all be wishing for the same thing: the ability to provide a better customer experience to their customers. Unfortunately, wishing isn’t enough, and companies need to take active steps to achieve this goal.
Chuck Ciarlo, CEO of workforce optimization solutions provider Monet Software, recently blogged about the ways companies can make customer wishes come true. Most of them are common-sense…or SHOULD be common-sense, but evidence shows that they are not. TMC (News - Alert) special guest write David Baker, SVP of Sales & Business Development at Servion Global Solution, put his wishes for 2014 customer service into a virtual letter to Santa. Some of the best ideas from both articles include:
It’s Christmas, not Groundhog Day. Many companies today still engage in the practice that most irks customers: making them repeat their information over and over again. It’s pretty simple: if customers are entering their account numbers into an IVR up front, don’t make the repeat themselves to the live agent and anyone else they happen to be connected to during the course of the call. This requires that call center systems be more closely integrated – which may not be cheap – but it will also cut down on average handle time, notes Ciarlo.
Callbacks. Customers hate waiting on hold. We all know this. But companies continue to do it, guaranteeing that what they get when they finally get to the call is a steamed customer. Offering a callback to customers who don’t want to wait is an excellent way to even out contact center traffic for better workforce optimization, while at the same time keeping customers happy.
Multichannel integration…really. This is something the trade press has been warning companies about for years, if not decades, but it continues to be a major roadblock for many companies when it comes to customer service. It’s great that you offer multiple contact channels to customers. They like that. But when they’re not integrated and information is siloed, these multiple channels do more harm than good to the customer relationship.
Trained agents. Too many companies will put a new hire into a classroom setting for a day and a half, show them how the desktop applications work and set them free…generally to wreak havoc on relationships with valuable customers. Skimping on agent training, and not offering remedial skills training to veteran agents, is a huge mistake. Agents who know how to do their jobs, are empowered to help customers and who feel appreciated are far more likely to be engaged employees, who stay in their jobs long enough to become highly skilled agents.
First-class workforce optimization. Are you using your workforce to the best of its ability? If your customers are complaining about waiting on hold too long, then the answer is “no.” A robust scheduling and workforce optimization solution is critical to keep both customers AND agents happy.
Data security. Nothing turns a customer into Ebenezer Scrooge faster than being notified that a company has lost their personal and financial data to hackers. Many smaller companies today operate with minimal security, mistakenly assuming they are too “small fry” to be of interest to hackers. They would be wrong in that assumption. Once the large enterprises beef up their security, where do the fraudsters go to find a bonanza in credit card numbers? Your relatively unprotected call center systems. If a real security plan is beyond your existing IT resources, bring in professionals. Sure, they are expensive…but so is providing credit monitoring to 10,000 people for two years, not to mention lost business from those people after they have sworn never to do business with you again and shared their nightmare with a total of 1.5 million friends on Facebook (News - Alert).
Remember: ‘tis the season to give and not receive. What are you giving your customers this year?