Published: November 13, 2015 | Comments
There’s no doubt about it, serving customers is complicated. And it’s only getting more complex. According to recent ICMI research, 73% of contact center leaders have noticed an increase in the complexity of customer contacts. Another 62% expect to increase the number of agents supporting multiple channels within the next year. Customers are more empowered than ever and have more unique needs than ever—including the desire to be served in their language, channel, and time of choice.
Earlier this year we spent some time chatting about the challenges of supporting customers in today’s global environment. What’s the best way to serve customers across all time zones? That’s one of the questions we grappled with during an #ICMIchat this summer. It was a lively discussion, and one that left many participants with even more questions (questions that couldn’t be covered in 140 characters or less). So, as we’re looking back on some of the burning questions of 2015, we decided it would be useful to answer those questions and help you prepare for a successful 2016! Over the next several weeks we’ll be highlighting a series of interviews with industry experts. They’ll share their thoughts on what it takes to provide great global customer service, what to try, what to avoid, and more.
Our first interview is with customer service leader and consultant Scott Sachs of SJS Solutions, but we’d also love to hear what you think! How does your team approach support? What tips, questions, or advice can you share? Tell us in the comments!
Look for part two in the series on our blog next week!
ICMI: Do customers today expect 24/7 service? When did this expectation shift?
Scott: Depending on the type of product/service an organization is providing, a customer may expect 24/7 customer service. If a customer is experiencing an immediate issue such as their mobile phone service not working, live support must be available 24/7. For other types of services, such as a washer machine not working, live support may not be required 24/7. In the washer machine scenario, it would be beneficial to have on-line (e.g. web site tutorial) available 24/7.
ICMI: What do you think is more important--prompt service, or accurate service?
Scott: Accurate service is the most critical factor for a successful service interaction. If an organization provides inaccurate answers, regardless of how quickly they respond, the service is a failure. Prompt service is also critical and there are thresholds that customers have, that need to be understood, that depend on the type of product/service being offered.
ICMI: Should every service channel be staffed for 24/7 support? How do expectations vary by channel?
Scott: First an organization needs to determine if they need to provide live service 24/7. This will be determined by the products/services that the organization offers. Regardless of whether live support is required, organizations still need to provide 24/7 on-line and voice response support.
ICMI: One challenge of global support: a team member in one time zone picks up a customer's ticket in another, then drops it when they leave for the day. What’s the best way to coordinate efforts when your teams are in different time zones?
Scott: To provide global support, it is critical to utilize a CRM system that tracks customer issues regardless of where or how the contact is initiated. The CRM system allows agents, regardless of location, to continue to work on a customer’s specific issue in a seamless process.
ICMI: Do you think customers should be routed to support reps in their time zone? How feasible is this for the contact center?
Scott: The utilization of demographic-based routing is an opportunity to enhance the customer journey. Current contact center technology can support demographic-based routing. It is critical to remember that regardless of the type of rules used to route customers to specific agents, the agents must be equipped to resolve the specific customer issue.
ICMI: If a customer reaches out for support after business hours in their time zone, should a team member in another location pick up the contact?
Scott: If a customer reaches out for support after business hours in their time zone and there is an agent in another location who has the capability to assist the customer, they should handle the contact. The customer should not be denied service if the capability exists to resolve the customer’s issue.