When customer service teams want to differentiate themselves from the rest, they focus on improving and optimizing the customer experience. Companies are more than willing to go above and beyond for the sake of meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Here are four trends that will help distinguish your contact center.
Relying on Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, from video games to the automobile industry. Customer service has been impacted by the increase in AI, too. This technology can be used to chat with customers about easy-to-solve issues, which frees up live agents for more difficult and complex matters. Automation with AI can reduce customer wait time, interact with customers and collect important data for the contact center to later analyze.
Implementing an Omnichannel Strategy
One major gripe that customers have is repeating themselves to various customer support agents in order to get an answer or have a problem solved. Channel integration isn’t the same as omnichannel service. Today’s companies can’t just respond to a customer, they have to know as much as possible about the customer and their problem beforehand in order to provide customized, relevant support. Customer service requires empathy and a human touch in order to connect meaningfully to the customer.
Analyzing Big Data
While much of the customer experience is about interaction and communication, big data still has a pertinent place in understanding customer behavior. Big data can actually help the contact center connect on a more personal level with customers. There’s so much information that can be tracked now, from customer behavior at every point of the journey to customer preferences regarding any number of attributes. Data helps customer support do things like figure out what a customer is going to want before they even ask for it and determine the best way to reach a customer on the channel of their choice.
Providing Real-Time Communication
Using things like AI, which can automate several processes, and ominchannel strategies, which can cut down on the length of time it takes to solve a problem, gives customer support agents the extra time to handle some queries personally. Real-time communication, specifically via mobile and social media, is in demand, especially by younger generations who are used to communicating in these ways. Being able to provide immediate support improves the customer experience and builds trust in customers.
Analytics often track what a customer does, but voice of the customer tools figure out why someone performs an action. Several voice of the customer tools can be used to collect feedback. The feedback tool you choose depends on your goal.
- Community Forums
Customers can discuss their experiences with one another in forums. These are great places to find out what customers need and which needs aren’t being met. They’re hubs for suggestions and ideas that a brand can use to guide everything from product development to customer support practices.
- Visual Feedback
Brands that have recently launched a new website or mobile app can benefit from visual feedback tools. Elements on a page will have the option to provide feedback. The customer can make a note about what they think about a specific element and then a screenshot will be sent to the appropriate department or agent. The customer uses his or her own words to describe a problem, which helps brands figure out which parts of a page or app are faulty or unclear.
- E-shop Reviews
E-shop surveys are auto-emailed to customers after they purchase or receive a product. A short assessment survey asks the customer to rate their experience or the product on a scale of one to five. There’s also a section where customers can write in an account of their experience. The benefits of this type of feedback are twofold. First, the brand learns about the customer’s experience and can opt to reach out to the customer if they submit low scores or describe a problem. Second, if the star ratings are published on a review site, other shoppers will be influenced by them, and a brand with high ratings will attract more customers.
Speech analytics delve deep into a recording to uncover intelligence from customer-agent conversations. Advanced software digs through dialogue to isolate specific phrases and words. Results can be organized and then compared to reason codes (why customers contacted support) as well as trends to determine recurring problems.
Voice of the customer feedback tools help contact centers to determine what people do and do not like about a brand. By pinpointing why someone may choose, stay with or leave a brand, the entire customer journey can be updated and adapted to meet specific customer needs.
By the time a customer has contacted a live agent, they’ve probably tried to troubleshoot the problem on their own with self-service tools. When they’ve reached the point of wanting to speak with someone, they’re already part of the way through their customer journey. Real-time speech analytics take into account customer history so they can pick up where they left off instead of starting from the beginning.
Real-time speech analytics help agents determine the right thing to say to a customer in the moment in a variety of situations. On top of making sure the customer is directed to the correct agent or department, this technology also gives agents the current, relevant information they need to solve the customer’s problem. Examples of up-to-the-minute information agents will receive include:
- Issues that are trending on social media.
- Topics customers are currently calling about the most.
- Recent updates to products or services.
Real-time speech analytics technology, combined with information being fed to agents in the moment, means that the customer support offered will be tailored to the individual.
Management can program speech analytics to choose agent scripts based on specific speech cues. Software is able to identify words and phrases that are present as well as those that are absent. The software also takes into account sentiment; the point in a call when a word or phrase is said; and the absence of a word or phrase when it should have been said. On top of improving the course of a call while an agent is on the phone, speech analytics can also pinpoint larger gaps in training and find areas for improvement.
The best speech analytics technology will understand the context of a conversation in order to appropriately guide the agent. Customer calls are analyzed in real-time and conversational indicators make it possible for agents to proactively handle a call in a way that’s highly beneficial to the customer.
Advanced speech analytics software helps contact centers in a number of ways. It increases first call resolution and improves the customer experience. It monitors agents for regulation compliance and adherence to company policies. Agents can also use real-time speech analytics to recognize and take advantage of sales opportunities.
Contact centers collect a lot of data. They can find out what their customers are doing on a daily basis. They can determine what time a customer contacted support and how long their contact lasted. They can listen carefully to conversations and decide if a customer is happy or angry based on certain keywords. All of this data helps the contact center do things like reduce call times and examine agent performance. To be competitive, contact centers have to stay focused on the customer. By keeping track of customer service metrics, contact centers can make decisions based on reliable data.
Speech analytics help contact centers improve a customer’s phone call experience. Customer service agents are monitored to ensure they’re adhering to scripts and following regulations. This can also pinpoint the areas in which an agent needs additional training. Speech analytics will also segment hard-to-handle calls so that they can be dealt with by a supervisor or an agent with more experience. Furthermore, speech analytics can determine the reason for the customer’s call, what they hope to get out of the call, and if they are happy, upset, stressed, satisfied, etc.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Analytics
Intuitive IVR systems improve the customer experience. Insights that can be gleaned from IVR analytics include the percentage of callers who want to speak with a live agent and their reason for doing so; the reason for the transfer of calls between departments; the percentage of callers who were not identified accurately; and the number of calls that were handled from start to finish by IVR.
- Overall Customer Satisfaction
Gauging overall customer satisfaction will give you an idea of how well you’re delivering the entire customer experience. In order to measure customer satisfaction, the CSAT score is often used. The contact center will ask the customer to rate their satisfaction with a specific experience, like an interaction with the company or a transaction. For example, the customer may be asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of one to ten. Any answer that’s a six or above means the customer is satisfied. To figure out the percentage of satisfied customers, the number of customers who responded with a satisfied rating is divided by the total number of customers who were surveyed.
Tracking analytics isn’t worth much if you’re not going to take the information and figure out how to improve the contact center. Predictive analytics show the changes that will most impact the performance of the contact center. Management can then figure out the best way to communicate with customers, retain happy customers and resolve problems with dissatisfied customers.
One single metric will not give you a useful view of customer service quality. Instead, several metrics that are carefully chosen based on your customer service goals have to be followed. Tracking analytics allows the contact center to improve, update and revamp their programs on a regular basis.
The number of misconceptions about speech analytics (SA) are surprising, especially considering that even people who currently use SA technology believe the myths. While the learning curve for SA is steep, understanding that the following notions are false will be a big help. When you know how SA does and does not work, you’ll be able to better utilize to its potential.
Myth #1: It’s Not Necessary to Listen to Actual Calls
It’s not possible to simply guess at the voice of the customer and you won’t be able to set useful SA settings if you don’t first listen to real recorded calls. The only way to figure out which business intelligence will be most useful to your company is to listen to a random selection of recordings from a specific queue. As you dissect recordings, you should do the following:
- Map call types for specific objectives.
- Listen to how things are said, not just what is said.
- Create a ranking of keyword categories.
- Identify issues that could cause trouble with the software (transfers, hold music, pre-recorded messages).
- Interpret dialects, accents and colloquialisms.
While listening to numerous calls from beginning to end is tedious, it’s the best way to figure out which words and phrases are most meaningful when it comes to customer intent and outcomes.
Myth #2: Speech Analytics Are a Set-and-Forget Solution
SA make it easy to locate keywords and phrases, but that ability alone isn’t going to give you valuable insight. SA software has to be optimized in order to provide useful and actionable intelligence, taking into account things like the relationship between content and context or specialized language for certain industries. Furthermore, the data you glean from SA won’t be helpful if it isn’t accurate. In order to make sure that the software is at its optimal level of accuracy detection, the speech engine has to be calibrated, tested and tuned until perfect. To do this, search results have to be audited several times over until the speech engine is in harmony with your business objectives. The setup and interpretation phases may be time-consuming and even challenging, but they’re necessary.
Myth #3: Anybody Can Manage Speech Analytics
SA may run automatically, but the software has to be managed on a regular basis, too. There are a range of tasks that must be completed in order to keep SA performing well. While you may have a staff member who’s qualified to take on this role, it’s important to know what’s expected of the person in charge:
- Software setup
- Server and database management
- Compilation, analysis and delivery of key findings
- Content review
One or more people can take on this role. Since the various steps call for different skill sets, some companies opt to split up the role into three parts
- Administrator for setup and management.
- Business Analyst for choosing and delivering key findings.
- Interactions Monitoring Analyst to review content.
Whoever is in charge of SA has to analyze and communicate the findings, explaining why and how changes should be made.
In order to get the most out of SA, it’s important to control your expectations. SA software doesn’t rely on omniscience. Instead, it’s a smart, calibrated filter that shows you the parts of calls that relate to your specific business issues. SA software provides the tools you need to uncover actionable business intelligence. Without it, it would be nearly impossible to find these subtle points of a conversation. With it, you can apply sophisticated strategies to work toward your business objective.
Just as contact centers evaluate analytics, customers evaluate the experience support agents deliver. Most importantly, purchase decisions are often made off of those evaluations.
Assuming your customers are happy isn’t enough. You need to know the realities of the experience you’re providing. Often, customers have a different experience with a product or service than the brand expects.
Understanding the beginning-to-end customer journey provides the opportunity to develop a meaningful and intuitive customer journey map.
The True Beginning of the Customer Journey
Figure out exactly where the customer journey begins. For example, an airline may assume that the majority of the customer journey is the same as the physical journey, i.e. when they’re in the air. However, customers know that the journey starts much earlier and ends much later than the flight itself. The customer journey for travelers begins when they’re thinking about where they should go. During the brainstorming and planning stages, they search for information about destinations and travel deals. Airlines, in turn, can provide this information on their blog and in their newsletters. While data may not be able to capture the exact moment when a potential customer is thinking about travel, the airline can make sure that helpful information is there when a person goes looking for it.
Discovering Your Most Important Customers
Who is your brand most appealing to? What do they need in order to meet their immediate goals and then to be satisfied and impressed beyond that? For example, if an airline’s main customer base is made up of business travelers, it’s a given that they need WiFi access and a business lounge. While business travelers may be on a work trip, though, they’re not robots who eat, sleep and breathe their job. Treating business travelers to relaxation (massage chairs in the lounge) and niceties (gourmet in-flight meals) that they may not get once they arrive at their destination makes for an enjoyable and memorable trip.
Customer personas specify the customers that need your focus. Job title alone won’t help with categorization, though. Instead, consider their role as it relates to your brand. For example, if you sell Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you’ll have several types of customers for each transaction:
- The marketing manager, who understands why your product is so important.
- The person in charge of the budget, who makes the ultimate decision about whether or not to spend the money on your product.
- The head of the IT department, who knows how to use the software.
- The person who’s going to sign the contract and finalize the purchase.
While each of these people are your customers, they need to be handled differently.
Outlining Customer Stages
Depending on the complexity of your brand, you may have as few as two customer stages or more than twenty. For most brands, the customer journey map follows a basic formula: research, compare, choose and purchase. These four simple stages can be built upon as the map is fine-tuned and expounded.
While the full spectrum of the stages should add up to one complete journey, each customer will not fit neatly into every stage. Some personas will skip entire stages, starting later or ending earlier along the journey than a different type of customer. For example, the marketing manager may be the only person to research SaaS, while the person in charge of the budget may come into the journey toward the end.
Setting Goals Throughout the Customer Journey
In order to create an empathetic customer journey map, brands have to understand what the customer wants to do. For example, when travelers fly, getting to their destination is just one of their goals. They want to get to their destination without changing flights multiple times, without killing time during a long layover and without losing luggage. Beyond that, they would probably also love to travel without being hungry, thirsty or bored. Certain goals are functional (getting to where they’re going as quickly as possible), while other goals are emotional (enjoying the flight instead of wishing for it to end).
Each customer persona and step of the journey has its own goals. Some will overlap and others will differ entirely. The focus should be on meeting the needs of the customer while staying on course to meet the overall goal of the brand. Each goal can be broken down into two aspects:
- What does the customer want to accomplish in this stage?
- What will help move the customer along to the next stage?
Here are general goals that most customers and brands have during the four main phases of the customer journey:
Research: The customer’s goal is to find interesting and up-to-date solutions that will meet their needs. The brand’s goal is to showcase their thought leadership.
Compare: The customer’s goal is to compare the solutions they find during the research phase in order to narrow the list down to a few front runners. The brand’s goal is to stand out from competitors.
Choose: The customer’s goal is to figure out the brand they most want to work with. The brand’s goal is to be chosen by the customer.
Purchase: The customer’s goal is to make the final decision and select the brand they’ve chosen to work with. The brand’s goal is to have the invoice paid, the contract signed or whatever it takes to close the deal, and to make it easy for the customer to take this step.
Setting Up Touch Points
Today’s customers are setting the trends when it comes to how they’re shopping. From mobile apps to “Buy Now” buttons on social media, it’s important to know the new ways for your company to connect with customers during each stage.
Once you’ve determined the personas, stages and goals to add to the customer journey map, specify the tools that should be available along the way. Here are common touch points that are used during the four main phases of the customer journey:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- General pricing sheets
- Product descriptions
- Email support
- Live chat
- Phone calls
- Contract explanation
- Detailed pricing sheet
- Guide with implementation steps
- Supporting documentation
Analyze Important Data
Making decisions about the customer journey map shouldn’t be based on hunches and guesswork. Analytics can help you identify stages and touch points you may not have noticed yet as well as show you if what you’ve been doing is working. You’ll also determine how long it takes for customers to pass through each stage of the journey. For example, if the customer is spending more time than expected in the research phase, is this because they can’t find the information they need? Is there additional content you can offer or a different way to deliver that content?
When further developing the customer journey map, figure out the data that’s most important for the customer experience. Long-term goals are more important than short-term successes. Creating a good relationship with customers will pay off down the road. Forcing a sale may bring more cash flow at the moment, but could be a turn-off to customers and prevent them from returning.
Analytics are used to leverage contact center data in order to resolve problems and improve business processes. Specifically, speech analytics refer to software that can go through millions of hours of recorded text (like e-mails and web chats) and audio to analyze and gather information.
Speech Analytics to Improve Quality Assurance
It’s impossible to evaluate every single agent interaction and it can even be difficult to evaluate a significant sample of conversations. However, since the main goal of analysis is to improve overall performance, taking random samples of customer-agent interaction would be a waste of time. Instead, purposeful targeting allows for only specific, valuable interactions to be assigned to evaluators.
Creating Buckets to Segment Conversations
Creating pre-defined categories, sometimes called buckets, allows contact centers to choose the telltale phrases that are most likely to identify a high-value conversation. One bucket may be for repeat calls and another may be for customer complaints. A bucket may contain just one word, like “ridiculous,” or a series of words and phrases. According to KPMG, in the insurance field, when a customer uses the word “ridiculous” on a customer service call, they are 80% more likely to switch insurers within 90 days, regardless of whether or not the customer service agent is sympathetic. Additional types of buckets may include:
• Repeat calls with the customer indicating they’ve called before. Possible phrases include “called earlier,” “spoke to someone yesterday,” “had to call back” and “called twice already.”
• Repeat calls with the customer indicating their issue is unresolved. Possible phrases include “keeps happening,” “hasn’t resolved it,” “having the same issue” and “never heard back.”
• Calls with complaining or dissatisfied customers. Possible phrases include “frustrating,” “annoying” and “you people.”
• Calls with agents who are not being helpful to the customer. Possible phrases include “that’s our policy” and “can’t give that information out.”
• Calls with happy customers who show their appreciation. Possible phrases include “you’ve been so helpful” and “thank you so much.”
Speech Analytics vs. Post-Call Surveys
Contact centers that have invested in advanced speech analytics software find that the process of identifying and measuring repeat calls is now quicker and more accurate than before. Post-calls surveys have long been a method of analyzing customer-agent conversations, but they’re known to have low participation rates. With speech analytics tools, contact centers can now be proactive when it comes to exploring problems and commonalties across conversations.
Today, we live in a multi-screen world. Shoppers worldwide are making purchases in a new way and smartphones now play a major role in the modern, digital customer journey. As a result, the customer engagement landscape is ever-evolving and fast-changing.
The challenge is that as soon as new digital channels become part of the journey, customers are already ready to begin interacting – and they expect a response. The main problem is this: customers want to stay involved and, when the brand is able to be responsive, those engaged customers end up bringing more revenue to the company. However, it’s highly challenging for businesses to meet those engagement demands, but ignoring customer needs is unacceptable.
Life is getting complex for customers, too. Some brands that have taken the steps to add new technology have so many communication channels that customers don’t know who to contact. There isn’t enough connection between marketing, sales and support teams. These departments don’t have any context about one another nor a method for letting the customer travel between them.
For a business to succeed in the customer journey, they need a variety of new technology, including:
• E-mail campaigns
• Inbound search strategy
• Location-specific solutions, like an app that shows inventory at a nearby store
• Mobile apps
• Modern contact center
• SEO policy
• Strategy for connecting with consumers on social media
• Way to stay connected with customers
These aspects of the brand’s strategy need to be synchronized, monitored and mapped in the journey. Plus, new digital channels and touch points have to continually be added to the strategy, including:
• App stores
• Customer communities
• Fan sites
• Mobile devices
• Social media accounts and pages
• Social networks
Mapping the customer journey in detail is helpful, so long as there are defined objectives. The following three techniques will help increase integration between digital touch points.
1. Engage the Customer
The main problem that today’s companies face when adding new digital channels to their strategy is that the customer expects the company to engage with them right away. While companies know there’s value in engaging, it doesn’t make it easier to do. Tools and policies should be in place so that brand advocates, including employees, partners and customers, can take on some of the work.
2. Simplify the Customer’s Life
Remove the time and effort a customer experiences when engaging with the brand. Modern companies are using things like concierge services and aggregators to help consumers’ access information quickly.
3. Solve a Problem
Get rid of a Pain Point. For example, give customers order status information on their desired channel. Let them participate in the design of a new product. Or, simply engage with customers who have complaints.
Brands can no longer consider mobile strategy to be insignificant. Today’s smartphone users check their phone almost immediately upon waking and they keep their device by their side for a majority of the day. Micro-moments, which are the crucial mobile moments of truth during the digital customer journey, influence purchase decisions.
The Four Types of Micro-Moments
1. I Want to Know: The consumer gathers information about a topic or product.
2. I Want to Go: The consumer wants to know where to go and when to go there for either an activity or to find a product.
3. I Want to Buy: The consumer gathers information about purchases, opinions, special deals, facts and comparisons regarding products or services. They may do this when they’re in the brick-and-mortar store.
4. I Want to Do: The consumer gathers how-to information on a variety of topics, like home repair or beauty techniques.
During these micro-moments, brands have the opportunity to serve the customer in three main ways:
1. Be present.
During the “I want to know” micro-moment, make sure it’s your brand’s information that shows up in search results. To do this, the metadata of your content (titles, descriptions, tags) must be optimized. Figure out which terms people are using when searching for the type of content you product. When developing your content, include information about your niche, not just your brand. Consumers often search for a category, not a specific company, when looking for a product or service. Your content should incorporate industry-specific trends, topics and events.
2. Be helpful.
Consumers prefer to choose brands that regularly provide them with helpful information, like how-to guides and unboxing videos. To generate content ideas that satisfy your “be helpful” goal, read comments on your own content or on the content of your competitors. This is where you’ll discover needs that have yet to be filled. What are people still trying to learn? What questions haven’t been answered yet? You can also straightforwardly ask your customers what they want. For example, send a poll or questionnaire to your mailing list to find out their most plaguing questions or what kind of content they’d like to see from you.
3. Be fast.
The purchase process a customer goes through has to be quick. If there are too many steps, they’ll go to another brand. Eliminate as many steps as possible and consider enabling one-click functionality. The opportunity to make a purchase should be obvious and at the beginning of your content.
Register for the Journey of the Connected Customer Virtual Conference to learn more about the Mobile Customer.