Customers today are spoilt for choice.
With so many products and services at their fingertips, brands must work harder than ever to keep customers onside. That’s why leading brands are investing in customer service success to build deeper relationships with consumers, win that all-important loyalty and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Customer service innovations
At Get Connected 2021, Mike Havard from Davies Group gave us a taste of some of the latest customer service innovations they have been working on with clients during Covid-19. As Group Director at Davies, Mike works with global organisations to improve and optimise their customer service strategies through innovation, insight and technology. Over his career, he’s worked with champion brands including John Lewis, M&S, Toyota, Microsoft, Barclays, RSA, Lego, IKEA and Virgin Group.
During the pandemic, clients have been looking for solutions to help their customer service teams react to covid, reduce costs, prepare for growth and repair trust, Mike said.
“Our clients and others have been trying to answer four questions,” he explained. “First, how can they be more flexible in their service operations? Second, how can they better manage their workload, both in terms of the demand coming in and their efficiency? Third, how can they increase their capacity to manage this level of demand in the future? And fourth, how can they drive the service experience and ensure value protection for their organisation?”
Here are four ways they have innovated to achieve customer service success.
1. Intelligent automation
Intelligent automation is the blending of human intelligence with digital intelligence to improve service processes. Companies can take advantage of the latest artificial intelligence tools, workflow automations and chat bots to cut costs, increase flexibility and unify their front and back-office operations. However, it’s important not to over-automate and lose the human touch, Mike warned.
“It’s not just thinking about robotics as a way of cost-cutting. We need to look beyond robotic process automation (RPA) to how we can augment and improve the role of the human and accentuate that value for the customer whilst taking out costly processes,” he said.
“A leading retailer that we work with talks about CX automation as both a driver of satisfaction and empowerment for customers that liberates their own teams to support their customers and to improve their lives at home through value-adding services. That’s a really considered, good view of the role of automation without driving it too far and putting that value and customer satisfaction at risk,” Mike said.
2. Crowdsourced CX
Crowdsourced CX or ‘Gig CX’ could be a game-changer in the customer service industry. It’s already used very effectively by the likes of Amazon, eBay, Unilever and Microsoft, where active customers are encouraged to help other customers in return for material rewards.
“It’s the idea of harnessing the experience, support, knowledge, brand association and resources of active customers, wider employee groups and/or a committed flexible talent pool to help support and advise prospects and other customers, as when needed, and to materially reward them for doing so. This is delivered with full quality control, safeguards and respect for all parties involved,” Mike said.
Gig CX can enable customer service teams to reduce the ‘noise’ around them and instead focus on only the most valuable interactions. “It’s really powerful because it brings in advocacy, trust and brand fans, as well as digital and technology components. So you’ve got a really powerful combination of assets within the business coming together,” Mike said.
3. Digital by design
To undergo a successful digital transformation, brands must become more digital by design. That means embedding technology into the core of customer service operations, and using it more strategically, rather than shoehorning it into areas where it doesn’t quite fit.
Mike pointed to voice assistants as one channel that brands should explore as they reimagine their customer journeys. “You look at how the likes of Siri, Alexa and Cortana are changing the way we interface with devices. And yet we’re not really seeing organisations offering that to their consumers in any mature or prevailing form at the moment. I think that creates great opportunity to start thinking differently about the way you can engage and interact with consumers,” Mike said.
“In the world of insurance for example, think about that first notification of loss or that claim for a car accident. Could it be more digitally rich? Do you need a human ear? Or could you keep your human agents ready for the more emotional and supportive counselling-type interactions?”
4. Data analytics
Data analytics can provide actionable insights into the performance of your contact centre. Not only can managers track exactly what their frontline teams are doing, they can also use captured data to unearth the root cause of issues and drive more value for their organisations. And yet, Mike says it’s surprising how few companies are taking advantage of these tools.
Two areas where his clients have successfully used analytics to improve their contact centre operations are in quality assurance and workforce management.
“There are still so many companies that are manually undertaking poor processes around quality assurance and quality management. But we’ve worked with a number of organisations that have managed to fully automate that process, which has freed up resource within their business to focus on changing and improving other areas,” Mike said.
Workforce Optimisation (WFO) tools have become especially popular during Covid-19 with so many customer service teams now operating remotely, Mike said. “They can give you greater visibility of your workforce, more transparency, and enable that workforce to be more self-empowered through performance dashboards and insight,” he said.
How can you innovate for customer service success?
Companies should always be looking for ways to innovate and improve their operations to better deliver for their customers. But the most important thing to remember is to keep it simple, Mike said.
“Remember that everyone who tries to contact you, to navigate your website or app, to get help, to understand their bill or to check their order is a person. Whether that’s your wife, your mother, your child, your friend – the consumer is not an idiot. They’re a real person and we need to be humble and have humility in the way we design our innovations to look after these people,” he said.