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April 01, 2017

Working Smart

Five Support Solutions to Bring Customer Service into the Modern Era

by Aleks Bogdanovski


Click here to order the April 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Consumers have embraced the convenience of the mobile culture, becoming more invested in technology and innately proficient with digital communication. Customers seeking goods and services are perpetually online, and though privacy remains highly guarded, most people today are fully aware that companies may be tracking their interests, purchases, social activities, online connections and other personal information. In fact, the expectation is growing that companies will use this information effectively, to improve the way they interact with their customers throughout the whole experience.

According to market research company Forrester, which specializes in technology and how it affects clients as well as the public, 89 percent of businesses are soon expected to compete primarily on customer experience. All of the data indicates that good customer service experiences result in higher sales, boost repurchase rates and create long-term loyalty. The challenge is that today’s tech-savvy customers increasingly demand effortless service across all channels, consistently and often simultaneously.

How does this challenge affect your direct selling business? It is likely that both your independent contractors as well as your customers will reach out to you in various ways and often multiple times for the same issue, whether that’s through emails, social media, live chat, telephone, feedback posts, or maybe even snail-mail. Without the proper tools, it can be extremely difficult to manage all the channels and remain effective and consistent with the customer service experience you are providing.  

An omni-channel contact center platform can help you overcome this challenge and engage with your independent contractors and customers intuitively and holistically across all touchpoints. Whether your goal is to improve customer experience, reduce customer effort or improve brand reputation, an omni-channel solution can help you better anticipate customer needs, leveraging all the communications vehicles and orchestrating your proper response—when, where and how the customer wants to receive it. 

When looking for a partner who can help you, consider these five important omni-channel program features.

Automated Email Module

Today, email is the prime channel for service and support. Business emails are treated with the same level of urgency as phone calls. For some companies, email is the only digital channel used for customer engagement.  

The latest contact center technology has made great advancement in automated email, allowing you to organize and manage the email coming in from independent contractors and even customers everywhere in a single place. An accurate, but still automated email response system can intelligently route email to the available customer service representatives whose expertise best matches the need. Adding this simple feature to your business can reduce the number of interactions that are escalated. Better for the customer, your resources and your productivity. 

Intelligent Routing for Social Media

Common thought has been that an active social media presence makes you trendy, but today it is so much more than that. According to the Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board, 72 percent of consumers use social media to research a company’s customer service reputation before making a purchase. What’s more, 74 percent of consumers say they choose which companies they do business with based on the service experiences their friends share on social media sites.

The unique aspect of the social media channel is that your customers end up interacting directly with your marketing staff and or with individual independent contractors. This can create problems when the messaging includes conflicting statements or possibly incorrect information. Training everyone to use the same messaging is one answer, but a better one is intelligent routing in social media. This feature enables you to route captured content to the best resource for responding to your consumers. In addition to this, you can prioritize any social media interaction by social graph and business rules to align with any resource within your operation. 

Web Call-back Feature

Long call queues always will be a challenge whenever a phone call is the customer’s choice for contact. The last thing you want to happen is to end up with disgruntled representatives or customers who had to wait for quite some time to get to a live customer service agent. The web call-back feature provides a logical and simple solution for this problem by allowing customers to set the best time for the customer service agent to call them back. This omni-channel module enables customers to skip the queues, request that they get an immediate return call or schedule a call at a convenient time—whether now or hours from now. There is no argument that the phone remains a critical channel for any successful customer service operation, and this simple feature ensures that the phone is used to its maximum potential by giving customers control over how and when calls take place.

Self-service in SMS/MMS

The explosion of mobile gadgets has made text messaging the fastest growing communications channel in history. SMS/MMS has become a preferred communications channel for billions of consumers due to its convenience, immediacy and ease of use. Customer effort is very low when using this channel, and that gives you the advantage of getting more customers who are willing and eager to engage, resulting in improved response rates. 

How does this work? You need an automated dialog engine. This means having a self-service capability, which will allow your system to resolve issues through already determined two-way text messaging conversations. It reviews incoming texts intelligently using logic, business rules, keyword search and message context to facilitate the appropriate response. In the same way, you can set business rules to dictate that certain text message dialogues have to be escalated to an agent for text or voice follow-up. This automated process responds with a personalized text message, resulting in many business inquiries and interactions being resolved without agent intervention, yet still keeping that personal touch.

Co-Browser Capability

It can be a big frustration for an independent representative or customer who gets lost on your website and cannot find the information they need. Co-browsing lets customers share browser pages by authorizing an agent or knowledge expert who, in conjunction with real-time chat or phone support, provides more effective, personalized online assistance. 

Conclusion

These five features are only a few worth mentioning; there are many other exciting tools available through omni-channel technology. Communications technology will continue to change and customer demand will continue to evolve. We know that omni-channel support will also continue to adapt. 

The key here is not invention, but rather innovation. We are focusing on an omni-channel solution that brings together all the sources of customer feedback, and then gives you the ability to orchestrate all of them, view them from a single interface and respond promptly to the customer in the proper context.


NameAleks Bogdanovski is President of North America at Acquire BPO, which provides businesses with contact center resources and technology.