Carroll’s song was a witty take on the fact that United Airlines’ baggage handlers were responsible for damaging his guitar. Perhaps more importantly, the song was about what United hadn’t done: rectify the situation. The video received 150,000 views and prompted the airline to reimburse him for the damaged instrument.
Technology-savvy consumers like Carroll are shifting the balance of power in their favour when it comes to the relationships they have with businesses. In today’s connected world of mobile devices and social media, customers have come to expect that companies are “always on”.
It’s not uncommon to see businesses whose agents must navigate three or more CRM systems due to acquisitions over the years. CIOs should look for modern customer care systems that can bridge these gaps.
Unhappy customers also have more platforms than ever to voice their gripes, making it increasingly difficult for enterprises to monitor, identify and respond to protests when they become public – whether legitimate or not. That’s why it’s more important than ever for CIOs to ensure their organisations are supported by an effective and nimble customer contact centre ecosystem.
Rather than reacting ad hoc or cobbling together different tools that don’t ‘talk’ to each other, enterprises should look at systems that cover the entire end-to-end customer lifecycle. A cohesive consumer experience requires an agile platform that can keep up with the intricacies of digital life and cover three critical pillars: self-service, live and effective agents, and escalation management.
I’ll help myself, thanks
The first pillar is self-service, which is the most economical and efficient approach in the short term, and often the first choice for modern ‘want-it-yesterday’ digital consumers. The idea here is to nip small problems in the bud and offer quick, satisfying results so that a customer doesn’t decide to go off and write a viral hit song about your company for YouTube. These services should be made available on any device and through any channel.
There’s no reason that self-service channel should be missing the human touch, either. If constructed properly, you’ll be making your customer’s life easier and keeping him more informed – while trimming your operational costs at the same time.
Read more: Five lessons for successful transformations
The reassuring voice on the other end of the line
Of course, not every question can be answered in the self-service channel. Traditionally, live agents have represented the reassuring voice on the other end of the line.
But today’s agents are expected to aggregate vast amounts of disparate information. To get the right information quickly enough to service during the course of a telephone call takes significant computing power in the first instance.
It’s not uncommon to see businesses whose agents must navigate three or more CRM systems due to acquisitions over the years. CIOs should look for modern customer care systems that can bridge these gaps to provide agents with a quick, one-screen view of the information they need – so agents focus on active listening rather than scrolling through different systems.
When you need to escalate
The final focus should be service optimisation and escalation management. Digital consumers expect flawless resolution of their complaints. The need to escalate can occur at any time, making it vital to empower all staff with the information, knowledge, and data they need. The seamlessness with which a company can integrate multiple systems and involve multiple agents to get a swift resolution for the customer is the ultimate test of its mettle.
Not every question can be answered in the self-service channel.
A unified desktop that any member of staff can use to investigate complaints is a powerful and effective tool. It means that anybody behind a service desk or on a showroom floor can capture, aggregate and analyse customer data to further grow the customer relationship.
By focusing on end-to-end customer engagement and interacting proactively with the customer, any organisation can transform a potentially bad situation into a customer-saving interaction and potential cross-sell, upsell opportunity.
It all starts with having the right customer service platform that can keep up with the intricacies of digital life. Today’s customers are in charge of your company; how you handle that fact will determine whether you increase customer advocacy, loyalty and market share – or become tomorrow’s YouTube punch line.
Patrick Kouwenhoven is head of New Zealand operations for Infosys.
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