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Blog

Aug 02, 2014

Why Technology Should Support (Not Drive) Your Customer Engagement Strategy

Categories:
Customer Service

computer monitors on a desk and customer service engagement strategy

The ‘Age of the Customer’ is something we posted about recently following a study released by Forrester indicating that focussing on customers is fast becoming the top strategic priority for businesses (in fact, 92% of companies include customer experience on their list of top strategic priorities).

So what do customers expect from their engagement with your company?

  • Flexibility and choice in communication channels – dubbed omni-channel customer service – customers want to be able to start a conversation in one channel (i.e. web self service) and finish in another (speaking to a customer service agent without having to repeat their query).
  • Effortless purchasing journey – the majority of online customers will abandon their purchase if their buying process is halted because they can’t find the information they are looking for (delivery times, payment methods etc.).
  • Appreciation – customers want their time to be valued and not wasted with unhelpful, meaningless forms and processes.
  • Less human engagement – maybe surprisingly, customers are beginning to prefer online channels to solve their queries instead of speaking to a customer service agent – busy lives and more demands on time are driving this behavioural change.
  • Innovation – channels such as SMS, click-to-call and virtual agents had little or no place in customer service a few years ago but are now expected by consumers. Keeping up with the latest technology will be key for companies to remain relevant.

Good experiences, in-line with customer expectations, are no longer a nice-to-have for customers. It’s expected. And, when expectations are not met, customers are happy to seek out your competitors.

What is the Current Situation?

There’s clearly a lack of integration between systems within organisations that is impeding the service customers are receiving.

According to the study, 33% of companies say that their agents lack the required access to back-office systems to address all the questions customers have throughout an interaction. Questions such as “Where is my order?” and “When will the invoice be paid?” often require further investigation by the agent, but this all adds to the time spent on the phone.

Additionally, 40% of agents struggle to resolve problems quickly due to poor collaboration with peers or subject matter experts within the organisation – this adds to the customer’s frustration as well as increased company costs.

Companies could improve the situation by giving their agents easy access to all customer and product information so the customer doesn’t have their time wasted repeating the same information. This would also enable the agent to offer a personalised customer experience and lead to increased customer satisfaction.

Is Technology the First Step?

Whilst it’s easy to assume that adopting the latest tool that promises improved customer interactions is an attractive proposition, your organisation’s long-term customer service strategy deserves a bit more thought and planning, for example:

  • Does your company have a clearly defined, and agreed, customer engagement plan?
  • Do you have processes in place that support customer engagement across the entire business platform?
  • How will you handle increased customer engagement, including negative or viral content relating to your brand?
  • Who will be responsible for driving and responding to customer interactions? (i.e. marketing, operations, consumer affairs)
  • How does your front line customer service staff currently handle customer enquiries? What challenges do they regularly face?
  • What tools do you have in place to record and analyse customer engagement? How could this be improved?
  • How will you use the customer service analysis for future improvements to your customer engagement strategy?

What’s the cost of not investing in customer service technology?

The Forrester survey showed that:

  • 64% of companies believe that not adopting new customer service technologies will leave them at a competitive disadvantage
  • 60% say that it will create internal operational inefficiencies
  • 56% say that their customer service delivery will be inconsistent
  • 50% believe their customers will switch to a competitor

At Astute Solutions, we work with big (and growing) brands to provide a complete range of integrated tools that enable positive, trust-building contact centre interactions and social and Web experiences that satisfy your customers, and support efficient customer engagement planning. These include;

Social Relationship Management (SRM)
For organisations who want to listen, analyse, engage, measure and optimise their brand via multiple social media channels.

Web Assist
A self-service virtual agent (2-way conversational dialogue) which provides answers to customer queries whilst they visit your website. Personify your website by including your own virtual avatar together with text to voice and voice to text capability.

Agent Assist
For your in-house customer service team, this intelligent tool delivers answers to consumer questions so your contact centre agent can respond quickly and appropriately with real-time product updates and information.

Astute for Facebook
An integrated social app that enables you to engage with your customers by offering virtual agent, live chat, email forms as well as click to call options inside your company Facebook page.

Web Contact Us
Transform your traditional ‘Contact Us’ form so that customers can self-serve or connect with your brand via the channel of their choice in an easy to use format.

Connect with Astute for more details on how technology can bring your customer engagement strategy to life. We'll also be at the following events;

Winning in the Age of the Customer - a Forrester event – 13th August, Sydney

SOCAP International Symposium – Prevention is Better than Cure – 18th-20th August,

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