Published: May 03, 2017 | Comments
Last week, as I sat at my desk clearing out some old emails, a text message popped up on my phone. Oddly enough, it was from Dom’s Coffee, a coffee shop I frequent on occasion. The message read, simply, “We miss you at Dom’s Coffee! Please come in and have a free regular coffee on us.” The message made me smile, not only because of the cleverness of leveraging automated SMS alerts to drive repeat business, but also because it stood as a textbook example of how loyalty programs and the concept of personalized customer service can take all kinds of different forms. From massive programs like Starwood Preferred Guest to hyper-localized programs for small businesses like Dom’s, personalized loyalty programs aim to benefit both the customer and the business. However, why are these personalized, white-glove experiences so often reserved for longstanding, repeat customers? How can these principles and outcomes be actualized in the contact center, for both longstanding and first-time customers alike?
In this age of big data, technology, and increasing social channels, it’s entirely in the contact center’s reach to create this experience of you know me, you appreciate me, you value my business at the point of first contact. Let’s dig into five ways a high-impact contact center can leverage real-time data to deliver on that “white glove” concierge experience.
Nothing says thoughtful, personalized customer service like “Welcome, we’ve been expecting you.” Before providing any tailored, personalized experiences that improve the customer experience, a business first has to establish with who, exactly, they’re interacting. What data can you collect on an inbound caller before your agent even picks up the phone? How much more effective would your agents be, and how much friction could you eliminate from the front-end of a call, if you could capture information like caller name, address, email, and social media profiles in real-time? Contact centers looking to pursue the elusive ideal of personalization would be wise to explore solutions that allow them to see the person behind the phone number.
Now that you’ve identified the person behind the number – what do they want? In relationships, thoughtful partners don’t only respond to their partner’s requests, they effectively anticipate and proactively respond to their partner’s wants and needs (Seriously, try saying ‘No, I didn’t plan anything for your birthday because you hadn’t mentioned anything about it…’ and see how well that goes over). It’s no different in the contact center. How are you going to use that data to drive a personalized experience? If you can leverage what you have learned before your agent picked up the phone to tie that caller to a purchase, or a reservation, or a previous interaction – you are in a better position to put that caller in front of the right agent, or the right department with greater speed and efficiency.
Now that you’ve identified the caller and used your wealth of knowledge to predict their wants and needs, what are you doing with that information? Do you have the ability to intelligently route their call to a likely department or agent? If not, why not? Engaging in intelligent routing, whether for customer service or sales purposes, maximizes your ability to resolve customer inquiries or issues in an efficient, accurate, and empathetic fashion. Contact centers that leverage business intelligence rules or responsive, personalized IVR trees can see significant gains in NPS.
But what if your caller is lying about their identity? While many of the aforementioned loyalty programs use phone number matching to identify inbound callers, there is the sad reality that many fraudsters use spoofing (intentionally manipulating their phone number) to trick phone systems into allowing them unfettered access to accounts and personal data. The mantra “trust but verify” is just as true in the contact center as anywhere else. As Card-Not-Present fraud rises in the call center, wise teams will invest in solutions that protect the contact center by detecting fraudulent and spoofed calls in real-time. It is also recommended that these teams train agents in skills to resist social engineering while maintaining a friendly, customer-focused mentality.
There is no technical solution, no marketing ploy, no brand strategy that carries more impact than a genuine, helpful human interaction. Your agents possess an awesome power to guarantee a positive customer experience…so you need to leverage their ability (and desire!) to do so by empowering them, investing them in your vision, and trusting them to do their jobs with a high level of competency. The “white glove” mentality can’t be engineered. It needs to live and breathe within the organization. That mentality starts with how an organization views, treats, funds, and staffs its contact center, continues with how contact center managers treat and value their agents, and ultimately manifests itself in how agents show genuine empathy towards problem solving with customers.