How to kickstart the new year with a great customer service strategy
Even though January is the month we most often associate with “resolutions,” it’s never too late to bring your business up to speed with a great customer service strategy, which will benefit both your customers and your bottom line. If you want to stay ahead of the curve in today’s competitive marketplace, you should constantly be looking for new ways to prioritize and improve CX.
As experts in delivering innovative customer service tools, we have spent a lot of time on the front lines learning what businesses need to do to be more successful in 2022. If you are looking for a way to improve your customer service this year, we can help.
Here are five critical changes to your customer service strategy that you should make in 2022.
1. Upgrade the Agent Experience
Excellent customer experiences are not possible without positive employee experiences. Your customer service agents must be empowered, supported, and aligned if they are to deliver the kind of meaningful interactions your customers are looking for. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of companies that overlook the importance of the employee experience.
Just think about the workday that the average customer service representative faces. Especially now, in the post-pandemic era, employees are under increasing pressure to deliver immediate solutions to issues across a variety of channels. At the same time, they are working in distributed environments (often in remote or hybrid locations) without the same support they once received from their teams.
It’s no wonder agents are stressed, having to manage everything from radically changing work environments to new omnichannel customer service expectations.
When your agents are overwhelmed and under-supported, not only do your employees suffer but so do your customers. Employees need the right guidance and technology to motivate them, focus their attention, and ensure they exhibit the right level of “customer obsession“.
So what can you do to improve your employees’ experience? The first step is to talk to your agents. Find out what the biggest challenges are for your employees. Do they have a hard time keeping up with customer inquiries if they have to manually search for information about each customer every time, they take a call? If so, consider using technology that automatically displays information about a customer from your CRM on your agent’s screen when they pick up the phone.
2. Prioritize Speed
According to Pega Systems, 75% of customers say the most important characteristic of “good service” is speed. Your customers live in a chaotic environment where they need a solution to their issues as quickly and painlessly as possible. If you can not provide the flexibility and efficiency your customers demand, they will replace you with someone who can.
The good news is that there are a number of ways for executives to increase the speed with the right technology. For example, if you have a lot of customers who regularly contact your team with questions about the same issues, consider developing chatbots to help you solve them.
With a chatbot or virtual assistant, your customers can resolve issues immediately without having to wait on hold until a customer service representative is available. This not only speeds up the resolution process for your customers but also reduces the pressure on your customer service representatives.
Another way to increase the speed of your customer service is to invest in the right routing technology. A customer is more likely to get an answer to their issue quickly if your contact center system can route the call to the right agent on the first try.
With the help of AI and natural language processing, it’s possible for systems to recognize a keyword or term that your customer mentions when contacting your team. Based on that term, the system can then route the customer to the agent who is best able to answer their question. Skill-based routing means a customer has to be passed from one agent to another less often to get a solution to their issues.
3. Upgrade Your Self-Service Investment
The most popular type of self-service that most companies are investing in today, for sure, are chatbots. However, with the right AI and automation systems, companies can do much more.
Self-service solutions are becoming increasingly important to the customer service landscape at a time when many customer service teams are seeing a surge in demand. However, simple chatbot tools alone can not do much. If you really want to help your customers, you need to go beyond the basics of automated systems that can answer questions with information from a FAQ.
As part of your digital transformation initiative, it might be worth looking at ways to give your customers access to self-service portals where they can interact with virtual assistants and even make changes to their services and systems on their own, without the help of a human employee.
Automation systems can guide your customers step-by-step and help them troubleshoot and diagnose issues on their own. Even if your customer ends up having to call your customer service department or contact a professional, being able to troubleshoot issues in advance can ensure they know exactly what the issue is before contacting your staff.
When customers know the root cause of the issue, they can provide those clues to your agents so they can find and implement solutions faster.
4. Don’t Underestimate Omnichannel
While self-service channels are an important part of the customer experience transformation for many companies, they are also just one piece of the puzzle. Customers are increasingly demanding a broader range of contact options when seeking help from a company.
Whether you serve B2B or B2C customers, you need to know which channels your customers prefer to use, from SMS and social media to voice and video. More importantly, once you know which channels your customers want to use, you need to make sure you are providing the same consistent level of service across all channels.
According to Pega’s customer service survey, about 70% of executives today provide customer service across four or more channels. However, 80% also say that the quality of service provided across these channels is not the same.
We live in a world where your customers expect to be able to start a customer service conversation with a chatbot on your website, continue the conversation in a phone call with an agent, and transition that conversation into a video meeting – all with minimal friction.
Ensuring that you can track the context and details of each stage of the customer journey is an important part of ensuring that your customer service strategy is fit for today’s digital age. A connected omnichannel contact center is no longer an option – it’s a must.
5. Prepare for the Proactive Service Revolution
Finally, if you thought keeping up with your customers’ needs was difficult before, you’ll face an even bigger challenge in the coming years. We already know that customers do not like to wait for solutions. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where your customers expect you to know their issues and be able to solve them in advance.
Some 64% of customers believe that companies should provide “proactive” service. The good news is that getting ahead of your customers’ issues could be easier than it seems. Automation and AI make it possible for companies to remotely track what’s happening with systems and even predict when something might go wrong.
Telecom and connectivity companies are already achieving incredible results with proactive network management. As investments in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things continue to grow, the future of proactive service has no limits.
Soon, you could be able to detect an issue in your customer’s data center months in advance and fix it without having to contact your customer.
Ready to Make Some Changes?
While the exact changes you need to make in your business to stay ahead of customer expectations can vary by company, the five areas listed above are a good starting point for most businesses. Plus, you do not have to make the changes alone. If you are ready to make the right changes in your business, contact Bulb Tech today and we will help you move forward.