Published: December 15, 2014 | Comments
Our daily lives are so intertwined with technology that it’s hard to remember life before Google and social media. The last decade has brought about drastic changes in customer-facing industries and gone are the days where businesses lead the way in delivering information on their brand or product. The tables have turned and increasingly customers are coming to businesses fully armed with data, opinions and anticipations on what they expect from a product or brand.
Today’s digital economy has completely disrupted the normal ways in which customer experiences are managed and delivered. According to a report issued by Forrester, buyers are 70 to 90 percent completed with a sales transaction before they engage with the vendor. Increasingly customers expect to be able to self-service and often avoid interacting with the vendor altogether. So how does this affect contact centers and customer-facing agents? By now, you’ve most likely realized that customers are coming to you with a whole new set of questions and expectations, and you’ve adjusted accordingly. Training agents for the new reality of more knowledgeable customers with more technical and complicated queries is essential to remain competitive. If a customer is interacting with an agent who does not have the expertise to help solve the problem at hand, or patch the customer through to the right department, the customer will leave dissatisfied and will most likely share that experience on social media.
How can your contact center benefit with the new reality of customer knowledge? We’ll look at four ways that you can leverage customer knowledge to deliver a better customer experience.
1. Talk to your front-line agents.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the disconnection between upper management and those who interface with customers on a daily basis. Customer-facing employees are attuned to your customer’s questions, interests and needs and can provide invaluable insight as to what customers are demanding so that you can provide appropriate and relevant training to meet customer needs. Asking your agents the following questions will provide you with a roadmap to tailor training and CRM practices:
- “What would you do differently in your job to create a better customer experience”
- “What is working and not working in how we currently deliver customer experiences”
- “What are the areas that you feel you need more training so you can better service the customer”
2. Pay attention to your call center metrics.
Analyzing the data generated within your call center yields beneficial information about your customers. Gathering the types of queries your agents are dealing with allows you to focus training and skills development so they can best help your customers. As customers come to you with more knowledge and awareness, technical training becomes more imperative. Think of how frustrating it is for customers to spend time phoning into a call center only to encounter agents who are less knowledgeable or capable than they are!
3. Knowledge is power.
The upside to more knowledgeable customers is they are savvier and require less time explaining the basics of your product or service. Seize the opportunity to convert your customer’s knowledge into sales of your other products/services. While they may be more knowledgeable on your basic offerings, they may not be aware of their other options. Customers are often more willing to spend more if you can make the case that your product or service will enhance their life or save them time.
4. Your agents are only as good as your technology.
If your software isn’t integrated across platforms allowing your agents to have a complete picture of your customer in one easy place, then you’re limiting their ability to provide adequate service. If you’ve invested the time and resources into understanding what your customer’s needs are when they phone into your center and you’ve invested in training so your agent’s knowledge exceeds that of your customer, then complete the circle by ensuring your technology allows for seamless delivery. It is understandable that an organization’s software often lags behind what customer’s expect, as technology is a big expense. But ignoring the issue hurts you in the long run. Systems need to be nimble so they can be readily and easily adapted to the ever-changing customer demands.
While servicing customers who have more knowledge and insight regarding your product or service may be challenging, if you think back a few years, the challenge that businesses once faced was figuring out how to make customers more aware of their service or product. It’s a new set of challenges, yes, but what hasn’t changed is nurturing long-term customer relationships by consistently providing excellent value, experience and expertise. Remaining focused on the fundamentals of what builds customer loyalty and being vigilant about directing energy toward enhancing knowledge and engagement with customers is what ultimately matters most. Technology is the new given in our lives and it will continue to disrupt our patterns in regards to customer engagement. Those companies that embrace change and are nimble enough to respond are the ones that will outlast their competitors that lag behind.