Continuous Customer Dialogue, Consistent Customer Experience, UK Contact Center Guide, Brick-and-Mortar Call Center Transitions

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David Sims
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Continuous Customer Dialogue, Consistent Customer Experience, UK Contact Center Guide, Brick-and-Mortar Call Center Transitions

A recent white paper from Infor with the promising title “Continuous Customer Dialogues: Strategies for growth and loyalty in multi-channel customer-oriented organizations” deals with just that -- “the challenges of implementing a customer-centric strategy.”

As the paper’s authors ask, “Do you have the right insight into the customer ,and do you have the ability to respond to the needs and interests of the customer based on that insight?” Only the unusually blithe would simply say “Yes yes, we have that all under control, no problems” and skip along. For most, it’s certainly worth looking at.

Infor breaks it down into two categories:

Customer-specific offers. Rather than pushing products, does your organization have enough insight about the customer to create offers based on the individual needs of those specific customers at the moment of interaction?

And if you said yes to that one, how about the consistency of your customer experience? Does your company provide a consistent experience for each customer-initiated contact across multi-channel touchpoints, defined as the web, call center, kiosk, or retail outlet? As the Infor paper puts it, “Does your company take advantage of this opportunity to understand the geographic, demographic, and psychographic characteristics of customers and build trust and strengthen their emotional ties to the company?”

Read more here.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, wrote recently that “providing consistent support across all channels is not an option for enterprises, it’s a strategic imperative.”

She’s correct, of course. As she put it, enterprises are “fooling themselves if they believe that their customers are not aware of inconsistent policies and service levels in their different sales and service channels. Aggressive customers identify these weaknesses and figure out how to use them to their advantage. This has become a lucrative game for some customers.”

Of course as Fluss is quick to mention, it’s not just the fault of sneaky customers, the businesses themselves “make it possible.”

Since 2001, her DMG Consulting has studied the issue of consistency between servicing channels, and much to nobody’s surprise, Fluss reports that she “continues to find it lacking in many organizations. Even worse, the inconsistency results in poor service, hurts a company’s reputation and brand, making it potentially a very costly problem.”

Take what Fluss characterizes as “a common real-life scenario: Customers who send an e-mail and do not receive a response within 24 hours often follow up with a phone call because they assume the company is ignoring them. As the staff that responds to e-mails does not have visibility into what happens in phone calls, they are likely to send a delayed response that differs from the information provided during the call.”

Read more here.

ContactBabel, a UK-based analyst firm covering the call center industry, has released their 2011 US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide (2011 Guide) sponsored by FurstPerson.

The report covers topics focused on people, process, and technology, based on interviews with 209 contact centers across a broad number of industry groups and agent size studying “how your peers view the industry, their performance metrics, and how they view the industry’s future,” according to the study’s authors.

Following are excerpts from three areas highlighted by the study:

The home agent model: This continues to draw significant interest from call center operators. The attractive economics, labor pool benefits, and political benefits are driving more and more contact centers to establish a home agent model.

ContactBabel asked decision makers to think about the contact center in five years. One question asked the respondents whether agents will still be centrally located or will they be working from home or spread throughout the company. Fully 60 percent of the respondents believe that agents will not, in fact, be centrally located, but will be working from home or spread out in the company, reinforcing the interest in the home agent model.

Read more here.

Nicole Burney, inContact Client Services Manager, wrote recently that as companies move from a brick-and-mortar workforce to an at-home model, “they are quickly realizing the transition does not come without challenges.”

She notes that there are components of this business transition businesses frequently overlook, such as “the need to re-establish processes for coaching and development. This business transition requires structured change to support the needs of the new remote agent base -- it requires a new approach in measuring the work that was once measured within the brick-and-mortar center.”

For instance, Burney says, companies deploying this model frequently ask okay, now that the agents are in their homes working, how do we coach them? As she writes, “some companies have tried to address the need for coaching by sending supervisors to the agents’ homes.  Would you be surprised to learn that these home visits were less than welcomed by agents?”

Ah, no. Wouldn’t surprise us in the least -- having our supervisor or manager hanging out in our homes would not be welcome.

Burney suggests Web conferencing, as an option, “where you have the agent and supervisor on a conference bridge sharing the same desktop visual for demonstration purposes.” She advises companies to plan ahead on how to address “questions that remote agents might have during calls, chat sessions, and e-mails, thus creating the need for immediate assistance.”

Read more here.


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