Today’s contact centres (CCs) are an evolution of the traditional call centre and so much more.
No longer just the recipient of telephone calls from customers, the CC also now manages in-person contact, emails, customer forums, social media, and live chats. According to customer experience experts at Smith+co, the connection of the CC across so many channels has allowed it to become the heart of a business, with its influence and importance being felt across multiple departments, not the least in marketing or as a means to help social media and customer teams improve social customer care.
The CC is able to inform marketing campaigns with real stories, from customers, on what matters most to them. It is a conduit that allows companies to understand what their customers are saying about their brand. This can range from how easy it is to buy from the brand through to price, and it enables companies to develop closely targeted marketing campaigns as well as improving inefficiencies. So, it is vital that a tone of excellence is established that enhances the customer experience, and maximises the opportunity for the brand to deliver on its promise across all touchpoints.
Leading brands have embraced the connective power of the contact centre, and have proactively sought out the potential for creating memorable moments in the customer journey. But the only way to do this consistently is through teamwork. A brand’s entire marketing strategy can be extended beyond traditional routes the moment a customer connects with a CC. Here they have direct contact and this is the point where marketing messages can be reinforced or remade into something completely different than intended.
Meeting Gen Y demands
Being aware that customers differ widely in their approach to seeking help is vital. Whilst older consumers generally prefer to pick up the phone and speak to a representative, this is not the case for tech-savvy Generation Y consumers. The reality is that digital communications are likely to overtake voice-based contact within the next few years, and this means that organisations must offer not just an omnichannel experience from the CC, but a sophisticated social media and web chat response that will help younger customers get the answer they are looking for via their preferred platform.
To date, social media enquiries from customers have been largely managed by the marketing department, but what was once a trickle is rapidly becoming a deluge, and this is proving challenging to handle. The marketing department knows that service requests are best left to the contact centre, but it is also determined to ensure that every response carries the right brand messages and reflects the organisation’s brand values.
Marketing and the Contact Centre Need to Work Together
Effort is now being made to move social media interaction into the contact centre where agents are trained to support and provide information on a larger scale. This requires a huge degree of cooperation. The CC has individual information on the customer which enriches the customer experience, however CC teams have been traditionally focused on meeting performance criteria and tracking SLA’s, so are more geared towards a rapid and resolute response. The marketing department, by contrast, is focused entirely on delivering the right messaging and reinforcing the brand values, often through outbound, rather than inbound contact, but equally is not constrained by having to meet specific metrics. In general marketing comes at this problem with a completely different tone.
With two different skill sets coming together, a unifying platform is needed – shared technology that enables marketing functions and social interaction to work within the established processes and efficiencies of a contact centre.
Which is where text analytics come in. Text analytics uses text mining and natural language processing algorithms to find meaning in huge amounts of text-based customer feedback, such as social media posts, contact centre agent notes, voice-to-text transcripts, chat data and emails. From a marketing perspective, text analytics show trends and topics occurring on social media in real time, allowing the marketing department to formulate a proactive response and mitigate any brand reputation risks. If an organisation is agile enough, it can then manage this information through workflow routing into the contact centre. The benefit is that the response carries the right brand message, and the CC is able to deliver it within an efficient timeframe while ensuring no critical issues goes unanswered.
A case in point – Tesco Mobile
An example of this working in practice is at Tesco Mobile, which supports more than 4.5M mobile phone users in the UK and has a social customer care function inside its contact centre. Recently, Tesco Mobile added in a new process, where they proactively reach out via text messages to offer support to new customers shortly after they onboard. This progressive use of new media is welcomed by customers and resulted in Tesco Mobile receiving the Best Social Media in Customer Service award from the Call Centre Association in 2016. Tesco Mobile’s success has driven customers to trust their social care programme which has been expanded with advanced routing of messages depending on bandwidth and expertise. Tesco Mobile believes it has turned its contact centre into an experience centre.
And this is the crux of the matter. In an effort to deliver great customer experiences, companies are investing millions in e-commerce platforms and even in social media tools. But are they also considering that every channel drives customers into the contact centre and equipping the CC with an appropriate tool too?
What kind of experience?
If 83% of consumers require support when making online purchases , how vital then, is the contact centre in the online experience overall? Customers now expect, as a minimum, brands to offer interactions on phone, email, website, chat, online forums and communities, traditional mail, in-person, and social media platforms. Many customers will use these channels interchangeably, so integration is vital. The need for integration takes the multichannel concept beyond just providing operational efficiency; it also provides customers with choices about the kind of experience they wish to have and how they wish to have them.
Customer experiences through contact centres must be technology-enabled. The technology also has to be open to the marketing department to ensure that messaging is consistent and appropriate, but deliver on team performance metrics that suit CC requirements.
The best solutions combine the right technology, process, and people. This enables the contact centre experience to work harmoniously with the marketing department and the overall brand; providing value to the customer and the organisation. For companies that believe customer advocacy is a key driver of business growth let’s have a shift in focus from efficiency or effectiveness to great experiences.
Clarabridge is a provider of text analytics & CEM software.