A Personal Touch

Would you provide a customer reference for a product where the supplier was giving less than acceptable service? I thought not so here are five tips on how improve customer experience from Graham Ede of Yonder Digital Group, the supplier of outsourced customer contact solutions.

Customer experience management is an often over-looked area, with few businesses taking a truly systematic approach that is based on real commercial metrics. Yet, when an issue arises it’s often too late to salvage the client relationship and if systems are not in place it can be very difficult to identify at what stage of the customer journey the rift was sealed.

Yonder Digital Group commissioned original research investigating the role of live agent interaction and speed of response in customer experience and found that 87% of UK consumers tend to stay loyal and increase their business with companies who offer a real person to talk to when they need it. The original research canvassed the opinions of 1000 UK consumers asking them to align loyalty and increase in business outcomes with different standards of customer experience.

Invest in technology to improve agent performance, not to replace it

Automation is being trialled by firms across all sectors to help manage everything from accounting, to production right through to management of customer experience. While the promise to reduce costs, increase speed of operations and avoid expensive mistakes looks appealing can total automation really cut the mustard in customer experience?

Apparently not as 69% of respondents report that if they can’t get through to a real person when they have a query they vote with their feet and take their business elsewhere.

Evaluate your customer management approach

With a majority of businesses overlooking the importance of having a methodical approach to customer management it’s hardly surprising to find that even fewer can prove their system stems from accurate analysis of customer behaviour.

Investing in systems to help analyse trend in behaviour and track changes allows businesses to gain a better understanding of the customer journey and to segment customers based on their preferences for example. Measurable KPIs that systematically tracks, measures and manages the customer experience are also key to identifying any potential hurdles or bottlenecks before they become an issue.

Don’t kill loyalty with the promise of a silver-bullet

Customer experience is directly linked to the bottom-line and analyst Business Intelligence says that 60% of consumers have not completed an intended purchase based on a poor customer service experience. Unfortunately, though board members can easily be enticed by the promise of automation that in the form of chatbots or artificial intelligence promises to provide the perfect customer experience in isolation from any human agent interaction. Yet not only does our research prove that lack of human interaction when required can cause defection, it also shows that it can lead customers to spend less with 87% of UK consumers reporting that they are loyal and more likely to buy again from a company that is able to provide live agent interaction when they need it.

Provide agents with tools to answer faster

UK consumers also clearly call for speed and efficiency in responding to queries highlighting that businesses will be rewarded with increased loyalty (92%). Those failing to heed this warning, on the other hand, are taking a big gamble as respondents confirm that lack of rapid response and resolution can cause defection (81%).

Forget age stereotypes 

Another interesting aspect highlighted by our research is that age stereotypes do not apply when it comes to live agent interaction. Contrary to popular belief for example, younger generations are just as likely to demand interaction with a human being at key stages of the customer journey as their seniors rather than turning to social media for interaction.

In short, technology has an important role to play in improving customer experience, but replacing live agents with exclusively automated channels is clearly not the right strategy. On the other hand, technology that helps understand customer behaviours, segment and target them, that tracks interactions and makes this information readily available to real, live agents can bring huge efficiency benefits. Not only will agents be able to understand the journey that led the customer to making a phone call and provide a joined-up customer experience, but thanks to the intelligence on the customer they will be able to provide speedier and appropriate resolution to any issues.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine