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Sep 12, 2017

What's the Point? 5 Key Objectives for Customer Service Systems

customer interacting with touch screen driving customer service goals

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

Here's a question for you: What's the point of customer service? If you answered, "Resolve customer requests and issues in a timely manner," you'd be partially correct.

While contact resolution is priority number one, there are four other customer service goals and objectives that have a major impact on the customer experience: 

  • Creating an emotional connection
  • Preventing future issues
  • Up-selling and cross-selling
  • Input into the Voice of the Customer (VOC) process

When companies deliver on all five of these customer service objectives, they earn the badge of being "Easy to Do Business With" -- an all-important goal in a crowded and competitive marketplace where brands must differentiate on experiences instead of product or price. Let's talk about each of these five customer service goals and examples in further detail...

1. First contact resolution

While certainly not a new metric, first contact resolution (FCR) is a key indicator of contact center performance. Studies have consistently shown that, when customers have to contact you a second time, their satisfaction is reduced by 10% or more. Some of you may be thinking, "No problem, our first contact resolution rates are high." But brands often overlook that there are two reasons FCR rates rise: 1) customers are getting the right resolution the first time, and 2) customers are so frustrated with the experience they never contact you again. Without a 360-degree view of the customer's interactions through a CRM hub, it is almost impossible to know which factor is having a bigger impact on FCR. Truly understanding your ability to resolve issues should be among your top customer service goals.

When customers have to contact you a second time, their satisfaction is reduced by 10% or more.

For more on call center metrics, check out the article: Are Your Call Center Metrics Lying to You?

2. Emotional connection

Eighty percent of consumers would be willing to pay more money for a superior experience. Price and product are no longer the top differentiators for a brand: experiences are. As the customer experience becomes more crucial, it's no surprise that forging emotional connections with customers has grown more important as well. A short-term investment in connecting with customers results in more goodwill, positive word of mouth, and revenue down the line. 

Too often, brands attempt to force emotional connections by scripting their contact center agents and social care teams. Best-in-class companies take the opposite approach: instead of requiring representatives to follow a strict, pre-determined set of responses, they foster an environment that empowers them to break the rules. With the right talent and technology in place, front-line employees have the permission to do what's right for their customers. Empowered agents can show customers they're valued, instead of just telling them so.

A classic example: you arrive at the airport to find your flight is delayed by several hours. When you express your concern about the delay making you late for an important meeting, one of two things could happen...

Scenario A: The counter agent, following the script set forth by the airline, apologizes and offers you a voucher for a future flight. She then attempts to force an emotional connection with you, still sticking to her script. Not only does the resolution not address your current issue, now you both feel awkward.

Scenario B: The counter agent reviews the information on her computer and says, "You've been our loyal customer for years. I'll find you a flight that will get you there on time." She then gives you a ticket for a competing airline's flight. Even though this resolution costs the airline money in the short term, you will continue to be loyal to them in the future. This agent was empowered to truly solve your problem.

Which scenario would you prefer, A or B? Scripted, forced attempts at emotional connection often fail because customers see through the pretense. There is no greater emotional connection than the one forged when a representative solves your problem, even if it costs the company something. It communicates strongly that you are a priority worthy of the time, effort, and cost. Showing will trump telling every time.

3. Preventing future issues

Good service solves the customer's current problem and creates a positive emotional connection; great service goes a step further by heading off future issues. Proactively educating customers about your products can prevent headaches down the road. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention! 

To successfully embed the practice of proactive education, companies turn to smart CRM and customer case management systems that guide agents through each customer interaction. Based on customer profiles, preferences, and past interactions, the system can suggest that agents share additional information. For example, let's say one of your service agents just resolved a customer's question about hooking up his new TV. Using recommended next actions generated by the CRM system, the agent could follow up with a link to video tutorials on using the remote, setting up a gaming system, or connecting a Netflix account.

For more on this topic, read Psychic Pizza: How Proactive Service Enhances Customer Experience.

4. Up-selling and cross-selling

There is a reason up-selling and cross-selling are listed as number four on this list of customer service goals. Without satisfying the first three objectives, efforts to obtain more revenue from a customer will likely be fruitless. An exception to this rule is if a different product would solve the customer's initial problem and/or prevent future issues.

Just as they can guide agents with suggested proactive education topics, CRM systems can use customer context, known relationships, and related products to feed agents information about other products this customer and their household may be interested in purchasing. Agents can even send coupons for specific products with a click of a button.

5. Voice of the customer input

The VOC process at most companies is fairly ad hoc. Yet having a pulse on what customers are thinking and feeling is incredibly valuable. VOC information helps companies make more informed decisions about product, marketing, and service strategies. For example, having a complete view of customer feedback, complaints, and sentiment would help a brand assess whether a product issue is serious enough for a recall, or whether marketing messaging should be adjusted for the next campaign.

As one of the most important customer service goals, gathering VOC data needs to be intentional and codified into every service interaction. When agents are actively guided through every service interaction, VOC input easily becomes part of the process. A simple two- or three-question survey at the end of each conversation can add valuable insights. Beyond surveys, intelligent service analytics can garner insights from unstructured inputs, such as social media interactions, knowledgebase queries, and case notes. When VOC data is gathered and evaluated consistently, brands reap the benefits of being in tune with customer perspectives. 

If your systems are struggling to deliver on all five of these customer service objectives, it's time to examine the processes and technology behind them. Learn more about what smarter customer engagement software could mean for your customer service goals.

 

Source: John A. Goodman, "Customer Experience 3.0"

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