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Blake Morgan , CONTRIBUTOR
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Companies coming out of the sharing economy are first to execute well on customer experience innovation. They simply move much faster than anyone else. These companies are moving the fastest to leverage tools such as mobile to bring amazing customer experiences. For example it was just announced you can hail an Uber through Facebook messenger. This is an example of the future of customer experience—channel agnostic interactions. That means regardless of channel the customer can get in touch with the company. Today this is not the case at any large company. There are agents hired specifically for one channel. In customer service today there are walls at every turn–there are walls for agents and walls for customers. There is no fluidity. Fluidity in customer experience puts you light years ahead of your competitors. It is the number one, no-brainer way to flood your gates with customers (in a good way).
There are a handful of tools and practices that will be of huge help as you shape the best possible customer experience you can.
Here are five of my must-have modern customer experience components.
1. Leaders Talk About Customer Experience Every Day All Day
You know how kids often imitate their parents? It’s the same with employees. If the leaders (the authoritative figures) talk about–and focus on–the importance of customer experience chances are the employees will value customer experience as well. I have a saying that what you focus on grows. If you focus on customer experience it will grow–but you’ve got to talk about it (a lot). If leaders value customer experience, frontline employees that touch the customer will feel pride in their work. On the flip-side, if executives spend all their time counting their sales revue–and all the praise, trophies and accolades go to sales–it’s likely the team that works with customers won’t feel their work is valued. If time is a problem for busy executives–not to worry! Leaders can send notes, record videos and do other multimedia to make sure the employees that touch customers know their work is important. If your leaders don’t make it known that customer experience matters at the company, why would you expect agents or frontline employees to care? If your customer service is terrible at your company, look up. If the leaders tell you “don’t look up,” chances are this is a company that really doesn’t understand true leadership (and culture for that matter).
2. A Top Quality CRM
Are you dusting off your CRM? Does your agent need to go to multiple systems to help a customer? Do you have one view of your customer in one system? If you don’t it might be time to throw the baby out with the bath water. An old CRM is a customer experience killer. The reason is the old technologies layered on top of one another make for super complicated agent processes. That means your agents are spending time walking through swampy waters with tons of weeds.
We can work hard to create strong cultures inside of our companies but our agents are often only as strong as the technology we give them access to. If an agent is on the phone with a customer and has to pour through an old CRM and climb a wall to get through another piece of internal technology—that’s not going to work either.
Your CRM is the backbone of your entire customer experience. If the backbone is broken your customer experience doesn’t have legs.
Your company needs to have details on every customer. Who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, how they interact with you, their preferred interaction method, content they might like, a view of all of their methods of contact (Twitter profile, phone number, email address, home address) products they might buy in the future and the list goes on. Big enterprise that don’t invest in a CRM limp along with taped together CRMs. This kills customer experience. Also, the CRM should be mobile friendly considering some of your agents might be in-store or out of the office.
3. Money For Problems
Problems are inevitable. Maybe what Notorious B.I.G. meant when he said “mo money mo problems” is you NEED more money if you have any problems. We’ve established that problems are bound to arise so it is best to save for a rainy day. It’s a smart move to do something extra for a customer who had a particularly atrocious interaction with your company. When something bad happens to a customer and they are compensated (in some way), they might not leave the interaction with a smile on their face—but at least they won’t leave you. In contrast there are customer service operations that don’t get any budgets. As a customer if you have an interaction with a company and that company refuses to give you reparations for damages–you are looking at a company with a c-suite that doesn’t value customers. A c-suite that values customer experience will give the company a budget for the inevitable uh-ohs. These uh-ohs are moments that the company has screwed up and needs to fix the relationship with the customer. The company that does not allot a budget for uh-ohs has left itself in a vulnerable position. Bad things happen. How the company reacts will determine their ability to salvage their relationships and their reputation.
4. A Social Listening Tool
Let me preface this by saying no social customer service tool today is perfect. Customers today are vocalizing unhappiness in the far corners of the web and the company doesn’t hear about them. As social channels multiply this will only get worse. A company’s ability to serve customers is only as good as their ability to hear customers. Some of the most popular social listening tools don’t pick up comments all over the web–they only on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram (maybe) and LinkedIn. The perfect solution doesn’t exist today without a ton of extra configurations and API plugins–even then it’s not perfect. The best you can do for social listening in the far off corners of the web is a tool that picks up keywords and hire a person who will have to manually look through the clutter to find customers that need help. That is one person’s full time job (yikes). At the very least you need a tool that will provide the basics. A good social listening tool today allows you to tag, categorize, escalate, and tell you sentiment. Right now we are still just trying to get the basics done well so don’t beat yourself up if your program only consists of the major social networks as it stands today. However you would benefit from having someone fish for other customer issues on other social networks—someone who can create accounts on numerous website, login and help customers that need it.
5. A Customer Intelligence Tool
Big companies have more pieces of data than there are grains of sand on the earth or stars in the sky. A lot! Through a customer intelligence tool that offers speech tracking, clicks, sentiment and text analytics the company can gain valuable insight into common issues with their products and services. Speech analytics are used to monitor telephone conversations taking place between companies and customers, using phonetic analysis or speech to text to find keywords and phrases, classify call types and identify trends (Wikipedia). The process of gathering and analyzing customer data is very very important, but it’s often a good move to get help rather than trying to do this in excel documents. There are some great tools out there that might be costly but the investment is worth it when you fix issues that could cost your company millions in the long run.
5 Must-Have Components Of A Modern Customer Experience