Do you remember a recent experience, maybe at a fast-food restaurant or gas station and it left a lasting impression? Think on it…
More than likely, you are thinking of an exceptionally positive, or negative experience. You are NOT thinking about a mundane, normal run of the mill experience because those are not memorable.
When it comes to customer experience, lasting impressions matter. One-star and five-star reviews get the most views, one of those you would love for customers to see while the other, not so much. Now some customers are impossible to please, and you will always have an unfair review or two.
In our decades working in the customer experience industry, we know that unparalleled customer experiences don’t just happen. There is a plan, and execution on that plan is adhered to every day. Step one is to have a plan. While everyone needs to take their own approach, there are consistencies that don’t happen accidentally.
Customer Experience Checklist
- Proper Staffing
- Clear Expectations
- Customer Feedback
- Foster a Culture of Accountability
- Embrace Automation
Proper Contact Center Staffing
Creating a positive customer experience in a contact center begins with hiring the right employees. These individuals should be trained not only in product knowledge and customer service skills but also in empathy and active listening.
Having the right people in place is easier said than done in today’s labor market. The reality is having multiple levers to pull when peak times or unexpected spikes in calls arise is a must. That means having the right partnerships in place for outsourcing either full-time or as needed is a best practice that can be implemented.
Having the right number of agents in place is part of the solution, however not the only part. Managing and maximizing your agents’ time is critical to ensure your customers are not left waiting unnecessarily. Having a workforce management (WFM) solution in place allows your contact center to anticipate traffic, identify inefficiencies and so much more. WFM brings a proactive approach to staffing your contact center effectively.
Proper Training Is Critical to Customer Experience
It is important to provide ongoing training and development opportunities to keep employees engaged and motivated. There is no shortage of training needs in a contact center, a few areas that should be consistently covered are:
- Maximizing technology
- Soft skills
- Product/service knowledge
- Anticipating customer needs
- Upgrade opportunities
- Handling difficult customers
This applies to staffing in outsourced contact centers as well. Ensuring consistent training regardless of location is an investment that always pays off. To the customer it does not matter what name is on the agent’s paycheck, the only name that matters is how they answer. If the customer is calling your company they expect accurate timely solutions to their problem, and training delivers that customer experience.
A key to unparalleled customer experiences is establishing clear guidelines and expectations for customer interactions. This includes setting targets for resolution times and customer satisfaction rates. Provide employees with the tools they need to effectively handle customer queries, such as access to relevant information and the ability to transfer calls to the appropriate department.
What is expected of the agent in their particular role and their interactions with the customer? The expectation on how to handle difficult situations, escalations, proper transfer etiquette and more. The devil is truly in the details, and the more detailed expectations are, the easier accountability will flow through your contact center.
Make Customer Feedback A Priority
Implementing a customer feedback system can also be beneficial in a variety of ways. Identifying areas for improvement, gaining new ideas on how to best engage with your customer, and how to improve your product or service are just a few of the many benefits.
With AI fueling automation, it is now possible to gather information that maybe was missed in conversation. The agent is focused on the immediate customer need and resolution to their issue, so missing ancillary concerns that the customer mentions happen often. Conversation analytics can be used in real-time and post-call to create actionable insights from all your conversations.
Having a process in place helps you create a proactive approach to act on the feedback received, and regularly communicate the changes made to employees and customers. The tools are there to listen to the voice of your customers like never before and anticipate their needs which is a cornerstone of customer experience.
Foster a Culture of Accountability
It is important to foster a culture of accountability, where employees and leaders are held responsible for the customer experience they provide and encouraged to take ownership of their interactions. Clear expectations create clear accountability, those two are a pair that works in harmony.
Accountability goes beyond just QA scores. Punctuality and schedule adherence are important metrics especially given the staffing issues contact centers face. Following transfer protocols and proper check-ins during hold times and more. Automation can help with scorecarding calls, processes, schedule adherence, and more.
It is equally important to recognize and reward employees who consistently provide excellent customer service. Accountability is about recognition and acknowledgment, and who doesn’t like to be recognized for the great work they do in the contact center?
Embrace Automation in The Contact Center
It feels like we could write an entire series of articles on automation in the contact center, possibly because we have! It is that critical to provide an elevated customer experience in the contact center of the future, which is now.
Most challenges can be solved through some form of automation guided by AI and machine learning. Virtual agents and WFM are a few of the solutions to help with staffing. Chatbots provide quick answers to customer inquiries for a large percentage of questions.
Almost every function of a contact center can be enhanced by automation & more of the mundane tasks can be replaced. Customers want answers quickly and effectively, sometimes a live agent is best. Other times an IVR is best, and automation can enhance the agent experience.
Unparalleled Customer Experience Starts with A Plan
We live and breathe customer experience every single day, both within InflowCX and in helping our customers accomplish the same. If you are wondering where a good starting point is for bringing this all together, how about a conversation with our team of experts? We love creating a plan and love it more when a good plan comes together, it all starts with a conversation where we listen.