Linda’s spouse texts her late one afternoon, asking her to pick up a quart of milk on her way home. Before she leaves the office, she checks her work email and voicemail messages, but has her personal phone on silent mode and misses the text. She returns home empty-handed and her family is forced to suffer through dry cereal the next morning.
Linda’s family might choose to ignore her oversight, but are your customers as forgiving? What happens when a company misses a message from a customer, ignores it or fails to understand its meaning in the context of other communications over the course of the customer’s relationship with your company?
Keeping Up with It All
The proliferation of communication channels today makes it easy for customers to communicate with brands. The challenge is unifying those channels so that all messages are not only responded to, but also woven together with operational data to form a cohesive narrative about the customer experience—a narrative you can analyze and act on.
Voice of customer (VoC) solutions are available today that bring it all together, improving contact center performance and dramatically increasing customer satisfaction ratings. Creating a seamless, personalized customer experience regardless of channel is the defining customer engagement opportunity for the world’s most well-known brands and for the brands who aspire to dethrone them.
In fact, Forrester reports: “Customer experience (CX) leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards, with leaders seeing a 17% compound average revenue growth rate (CAGR) compared to only 3% for their CX laggard counterparts.” Verint research also shows that 66% of consumers will switch providers for a better CX (2018 Verint Global Research).
Capturing customer sentiment real-time regarding their interactions with you is critical, but it is only the first step. Brands that most effectively listen to the voice of their customers across all engagement channels can see what consumers are saying, overlay it with operational data regarding contact center performance, and quickly prioritize CX improvements.
Here are three best practices companies are deploying, with the support of new VoC solutions, that empower a brand to listen, analyze and act on customer feedback across all engagement channels.
- Listen to digital as well as voice interactions
Many enterprises today still operate in a soloed environment. Contact center employees and managers might not have any communication with their company’s web development team, for example, so the concept of being able to tap into data across channels is a daunting one.
New VoC tools are available to change all that, to modernize infrastructure and automate the way data flows from one silo, and one channel, to another, and then wrap up all the data into a single dashboard that makes it easy to see how customers are interacting with you. Most important, the tools help you pinpoint preferences and pitfalls along the customer journey with your company.
When more and more customers are using self-service channels to communicate with companies, it’s easy for a disconnect to develop between digital and in-person interactions. How annoying is it for customers when they perform self-service interactions frequently, yet when they have an issue that requires them to speak with an agent, the agent has no knowledge of those interactions? What happens when customers can’t log into their bank accounts, for example, so they call the contact center, which is unprepared for the flood of phone calls because it has no knowledge of the digital channel problem?
Unified dashboards and data visualizations combine data from the contact center, web, mobile, social, email, SMS and branch locations. The data can include speech and text analytics that identify and predict trends, themes and root causes driving customer call volumes. The result is a playbook for resolving bottlenecks and acting on opportunities that enhance CX.
- Combine VoC and operational data
“Defining the Human Age: A Reflection on Customer Service in 2030,” carried out by Verint Systems in collaboration with Opinium Research LLP, is a study exploring how technology, societal trends and customer preferences will shape customer engagement in the years to come. The study also provides advice for engaging the discerning customer and striking the right balance between human and automated service experiences.
Despite all the new digital channels, 76% of consumers want human contact to remain part of the customer experience. Nearly two-thirds (63%) stated that they are happy to be served by a chatbot if they have the option to escalate the conversation to a human. The study makes it clear that customers want to know they have the option to speak to a person to ensure their voice is heard. All the more reason for contact centers to be “on their game” more than ever today.
That includes combining customer interaction data with operational data to gain a deeper understanding not only of what occurred in the interaction, but the circumstances around it. For example, after a customer call with a contact center agent, the customer might be prompted to take a post-call integrated voice response (IVR) survey. If the customer declines, a tailored follow-up survey can be sent out through SMS messaging or email.
The customer’s response can be captured and combined with contextual data—agent’s name, call ID, handle time, first-call resolution rate, number of follow-up calls, etc. The agent’s supervisor can use the data for coaching and pinpointing specific areas that need improvement. Good listening goes beyond contact center experiences, as well. There are even applications that let a customer self-select to complete a brief survey on his or her mobile device during key moments in the customer journey—when browsing on the website, for example, or conducting an in-store transaction.
The combined channel response and contextual data can help companies gain a clear understanding of where CX efforts are falling short. Traditional methods of using spreadsheets and intuition to try to understand agent performance and its influence on customer satisfaction can sometimes be misleading. You might find with new VoC tools, for example, that good first-call resolution (FCR) rates aren’t the CX quality indicator you once thought they were. VoC insights gleaned from speech analytics might lead you to a different conclusion if it reveals the customer had satisfaction issues with the agent even though his or her problem was apparently quickly solved.
- Capture data to make your case for CX improvements
Analyzing large cross-channel data sets to discover emerging trends and find the “hidden gems” in unstructured data is an important weapon in today’s competitive arsenal. So is being able to layer in data from interactions to gain insight into the emotions that motivated the feedback. For example, speech analytics might uncover certain key phrases that are correlated with negative customer sentiment or, just as importantly, certain key phrases that correlate to delighted customers. Not only does the information help you see where CX improvements need to be made, but they also can help you prioritize CX investments and build a business case for change.
For example, you might know intuitively that your agents need to be better educated in the issues that concern customers most. If you want to advocate for a knowledge management system to put resources at their fingertips so they can provide articulate and accurate answers to customers, granular data on where and how frequently agents are falling short can help you make your case. VoC system metrics can prove that fast, correct answers accelerate calls, satisfy customers quickly and ultimately save money.
Companies using the VoC tools today are making high marks in CX. A global distributor that supplies products to the world’s top pharmaceutical, biotech, industrial, educational, governmental and healthcare organizations used VoC tools to improve first-call resolution by 14% and increase five-star customer ratings to 83% by modifying processes impeding CX.
A healthcare benefits company needed to improve its customer experience. The company used IVR feedback and speech analytics tools to more than double customer satisfaction in the first 12 months and improve customer effort scores over 10% from the previous year.
The Contact Center, Still the Preferred Channel
Even with the explosive growth of digital engagement channels, the contact center remains a preferred channel for many consumers, especially for complex interactions, as the research shows. Though gathering actionable customer feedback on interactions has been challenging given the sheer volume and unique mix, new tools and practices can simplify, modernize and automate the process.
They can help you stay more attuned to the voice of the customer than ever before. And as the numbers show, good listeners who know when and where to take action are the winners in business today.