Published: June 11, 2017 | Comments
You’re a customer service guru. Where others see simple data points like handle time and NPS, you see real people with real problems that need solving.
So let’s look at a real person.
You are responsible for customer service at a large retail electronic store. Your customer is Brendan. Brendan is a loving father to three tiny menaces, and he works out of his home office. He’s in dire need of a business quality wireless router. Due to parenting obligations, he has little time to spend with an in-store rep finding the perfect device, so he’s done all the research. He knows the specs he needs, he’s even found the exact model he wishes to buy and knows what store has the right price point. Brendan is 100% on board with becoming a customer of your store. He is going to buy from you.
Brendan walks into your store (Channel #1), and buys his wireless router with cash. He has his receipt emailed to him. Brendan gets home, but is having significant trouble setting up the router, so he calls (Channel #2) customer service. The representative asks him for all of his information and the specifics of the purchase, and he has to spell and respell his name and address multiple times. The rep is not able to resolve his issue, and recommends that Brendan goes back into the store to talk to a technician. This experience frustrates Brendan, so he tweets (Channel #3) about the hardships he has endured. Your brand reaches out to Brendan immediately, and asks him to send you his contact and purchase information via Direct Message. During his lunch break, Brendan begrudgingly returns to the store (Channel #1, again!), where the technician collects all of his personal information before diagnosing and fixing the problem.
Brendan has now interacted with your brand through three separate channels and had his personal information and details collected three separate times. Your business has not been able to link those interactions together, nor have you been able to link those interactions to the original purchase.
In today’s market, businesses are asked, even expected, to sell and provide support through multiple channels. While the best and brightest of the ICMI community acknowledge that it’s best to operate through the channels in which you excel, many businesses feel the squeeze of potential missed opportunities through channels they’re not currently servicing. While omnichannel is excellent for providing short term wins (converting sales or resolving issues through the customer’s channel of choice), it also poses logistical challenges for businesses trying to link those interactions to get a 360 view of the customer. Businesses want to know: can we link that tweet to an actual purchase? Can we link this caller to an attempt to interact with customer service via email?
The big problem is: how do we see the person behind the number, email, or social media handle in a real-time environment? How do we identify within and across channels?
1. Value CRM
As a business, how are you capturing data and information at every customer interaction? How are you ensuring that your agents, regardless of channel, can query that information in real-time? How are you segmenting and running reports, updating and refreshing that information, and engaging in naming conventions and duplicate cleansing to ensure viability of the input data?
Step one of acquiring and leveraging customer data for omnichannel is having a reliable repository to store it and business rules for querying it quickly.
2. Fill In Gaps In Your CRM
Building out a CRM is a constant exercise in striving for completeness. Businesses that want to get the most out of their customer data, including the ability to link and identify customers across channels, need to look to outside partners and vendors who are able to provide real-time data on inbound calls, emails, and/or social media inquiries. Having a robust, complete CRM allows customer service representatives to query quickly and see the person behind the interaction across channels. While looking for partners in this work, it's important to seek out partners who allow businesses to keep, store, and leverage the data that they provide for future use. Many partners “lease” data, which is helpful for resolving a short term problem, but will not help you in your mission to build a 360 view of your customers.
3. Train Your Agents
It’s a familiar refrain, but your agents are your single most important brand ambassadors in customer interactions. How are your agents using information in the CRM or from other, external sources in real-time to resolve issues? What are best practices? What are worst practices?
In looking at agent training on identifying customers and responding appropriately across channels, look for ways that your own agents can deliver the training and professional development. You probably have a staggering number of “bright spots” in your own organization who deserve the opportunity to speak from their own experience and share their success stories with the team. In addition to increased engagement, this practice will result in greater buy-in among your team by plucking omnichannel identification out of the world of theory and placing it directly in the realm of day-to-day practice.