The contact center is a critical part of the customer experience delivery, yet many leaders still see it as an adjunct to the wider enterprise whose only function is to process transactions or keep disgruntled customers at bay.
For many customers engaging with a contact center is a necessary evil: it isn’t something you want to do, but something you have to do. Paying a bill, amending a booking or updating account details – all part and parcel of our daily lives and business as usual for a contact center.
But, what about the times when an enterprise fails to deliver what they said they would: an incorrect bill, a broken product, a service outage?
It’s in these turbulent times of broken promises that the contact center comes into its own. The unfortunate agent that picks up the phone needs to resolve an issue that wasn’t of their making and they need to do it first time, with little delay.
For many CX puritans the very notion of a customer calling a contact center means you have failed. The problem with this school of thought is that it isn’t realistic. Obviously, everything should be done to try and prevent a customer issue arising but sometimes those anomalies occur, or something slips through the net and goes wrong.
In these ‘moments of truth’ enterprises can sink or swim: buoyed up or pulled under by their contact center. So, what can leaders do to turn a customer who is at risk of leaving into a loyal brand advocate?
It starts with putting the customer at the heart of everything you do. This is much easier said than done so below are some areas to get you thinking about how you can turn a customer complaint into an enterprise opportunity.
Leading the charge
A CX vision can bring great value and efficiencies to the contact center, but without the leadership in place supporting it any hope of success will fail.
Historically, the customer relationship was the responsibility of the CMO and for many enterprises this is still the case. However, the problem with this approach is that the CMO only sits within one area of the enterprise, not across it. A dedicated CXO/CCO that sits across all areas of the enterprise (including the contact center) leading by example is critical to successful CX delivery.
It is no longer enough to say you are customer focused, you must prove it through the way the enterprise and it’s contact center operates: training and encouraging agents to tackle issues without depending on a script; moving beyond conventional contact center metrics to first time resolution and customer effort; and investing in agent welfare and engagement. Leaders must give everyone the means to deliver optimal CX and not confine them to rigid and legacy structures that were defined long before the customer was front of mind.
At a time when the relationship between your enterprise and customer is most delicate special care needs to be taken to not push the relationship over the edge. This is of particular importance if call volumes spike due to a customer-wide issue occurring. Giving customers the option to request a call-back on their preferred channel will help reduce call volume, lower abandon rate (which could be more than a hang up but a full abandonment of your brand for a competitors) and improve CX.
Single desktops will also help pacify a fraught situation and expedite the resolution process as it gives agents the visibility to see the complete picture of the customer and not siloed snapshots. Repeating questions or not having the context for why a customer is calling can lead to even more frustrations and increase the risk of losing that customer.
Listen, learn and act
There is a thought that in order to grow we must suffer first. In the realm of the contact center and resolving customer issues I would say this statement rings true. You can learn a lot more from a disgruntled customer than a happy one. Granted there are the cases of a complaint for a complaint’s sake and you shouldn’t be held hostage by that. But, underneath the frustrated hyperbole there is a lot that can be learnt and with the right Voice of the Customer tools you can cut through the noise to the valuable nuggets of insight waiting to be unearthed. Feeding learnings back into the enterprise can help fix any current issues and strengthen future product or service delivery.
Let’s face it, enterprises can be sensitive to a customer’s complaint, but the reality is they have found a hole in your product or service and if you won’t listen to what they have to say than their entire social network will.
With one in three customers leaving a brand they love after one bad experience failure to deliver on what you have promised can be very damaging. So, for those customers who decide to stick around it is even more important to build trust and mend bridges as quickly and effectively as possible.
You can have all the processes, technology and people in the world working to avoid a customer issue but if the day comes when something goes wrong be sure you have the customer at the center of your mitigation plan and solid processes in place to reduce customer frustration and churn.