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2016

shutterstock_203871040.jpgKey Takeaway: Make your customer engagement efforts more visible to truly demonstrate your commitment to service and support.

 

You've probably heard the old saying "Seeing is believing." But have you incorporated this concept into your customer engagement strategy?

 

As cliche as it may sound, this concept has a lot of relevance for businesses' approach to customer support. Making the customer experience visible to other consumers can be a great way for companies to demonstrate both their commitment to engagement and how effectively they deliver on that promise.

 

The impact of observing

The importance and impact of consumer observation is already somewhat understood in the context of customer buying decisions, yet many business leaders underestimate its significance. For example, a recent report from Harvard Business Review, which analyzed 14,000 brand touch points , found that "observing other customers wasn't only very common, it was also strikingly important in shaping consumers' views of a brand." The study further concluded that peer observation's impact was just as great as traditional brand advertising.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 5.26.31 PM.pngPerhaps even more importantly, the report determined that peer observation had a much greater impact on customer brand perception than word-of-mouth in a variety of sectors, including mobile and electronics. Hearing about a product or service from a friend, family member or coworker can absolutely alter a consumer's recommendations and reviews, but the effect is even more pronounced when the individual simply witnesses others making purchases and choosing products.

 

Discussing these findings, Customer Think contributor Chris Petersen offered a number of key recommendations regarding how retailers and other firms can better leverage peer observation in their outreach efforts. He emphasized the value of providing rich product content that shows consumers actually using the items in question and encouraging customers to demonstrate for others.

 

Those are all great recommendations, and business leaders should strongly consider all of those notions. But they should also aim to extend the concept of peer observation further into the realm of customer engagement.

 

Customer engagement in action

By making their customer service efforts more readily visible, companies don't need to rely on word of mouth and reviews to convince prospects that they will receive a top-quality customer experience - consumers can see the evidence firsthand. That proof is far more convincing than anything else a business has to offer.

 

Consider the example of T-Mobile as highlighted in a recent post on Engagement Optimization. While the focus of that piece was on gamification success stories, T-Mobile's experience also offers an excellent demonstration of the principle in action. By creating its "T-Community," T-Mobile developed a forum where customers could publicly ask questions and voice concerns. The gamification element came into play as agents received achievement points every time they engaged with their customers. What's critical to note here is that this incentivization combined with the open demonstration of T-Mobile's commitment to customer service led to a major surge in customer engagement.

 

Social considerations

Naturally, social customer service can and should play a role in any effort to make engagement more visible. Yet it's also imperative that firms approach these channels carefully.

 

As Business Insider contributor Andrew Meola recently noted, consumers are increasingly coming to expect companies to offer customer services and support via social media. However, a North Ridge Group report found that about one-third of all social media-based customer support requests never receive an answer. That highlights the first and most easily solved challenge here: If a business is going to offer customer engagement through social media, it needs to have the capabilities in place to actually deliver on this promise. It is far better to simply not offer social customer service than to make the channel available when you don't have the necessary resources, as the latter case will demonstrate your company's engagement shortcomings, rather than strengths.

 

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Additionally, firms need to make sure their social customer service is treated just like any other form of support. Too often, businesses assign social customer support responsibilities to the marketing department or some other part of the organization, rather than integrating into the contact center. That runs the risk of diminishing its effectiveness and creates a disconnect between other channels.

 

When companies can get social customer service right, though, they are able to broadcast loudly and clearly that they not only take customer engagement seriously, but are also capable of delivering on their promises.

 

How does your company demonstrate its commitment to customer engagement?

dare13_frth.jpgIn today’s consumer-driven healthcare landscape, payers and providers must find ways to build strong and lasting relationships with consumers and patients – or risk losing business to the competition.

 

The challenge, however, is meeting patient care expectations and regulatory compliance requirements while continually improving operational efficiency.

 

That’s where speech analytics comes in.

 

A solution that gives healthcare organizations valuable insight into interactions between patients and call center representatives, speech analytics allows companies to do the following:

  • Leverage patient insights
  • Track patient sentiment
  • Identify root cause of issues
  • Deliver fast performance feedback to agents
  • Ensure compliance

 

[FULL BLOG POST]

 

This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

The Takeaway: Leading retailers are moving toward omnichannel, and your company should, too.

 

Customer experience has never been more important. Microsoft's recent Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report revealed that 97 percent of consumers say customer service is a significant factor in choosing and remaining loyal to a brand. And a big factor when it comes to rating customer engagement success is flexibility - U.S. customers used an average of four channels when interacting with brands.1.jpg

 

Together, these two stats highlight the fast-growing importance of omnichannel. Consumers want to be able to switch between engagement channels quickly, easily and without repeating information.

 

As our new white paper makes clear, true omnichannel and customer journey analytics have not quite arrived, but they are very much on the horizon. Unsurprisingly, though, some of the world's leading retailers are ahead of the curve - and offer some valuable guidance for other brands as we move closer and closer to an entirely omnichannel world.

 

Walmart: Bridging Digital and Physical Realms

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is betting big on omnichannel.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 4.51.39 PM.pngThe company has seen mixed results in recent quarters, but one of the recurring bright spots has been its Web sales. Considering the physical presence Walmart has, it shouldn't be a surprise that the company isn't about to abandon its brick-and-mortar customers, though. Instead, the retailer is striving to bridge the gap between the two spaces, and that creates the ideal conditions for omnichannel.

 

"I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they're two separate things," CEO Doug McMillon said at last year's Annual Shareholders Meeting. "The customer doesn't think of it that way, and we can't either."

 

As one example of this effort, Walmart added almost 100 locations with online grocery pickup services late last year and has upped its investment in geofencing technology which alerts brick-and-mortar retailers when a customer arrives to pick up a delivery, Internet Retailer reported.

 

Contributing to Forbes, the Trefis Team argued that omnichannel retail will play a key role in Walmart's future growth.

 

Lowe's: Omnichannel Evolution

Omnichannel is also playing a big and increasing role for Lowe's. In September, the company reported a very good Q2, and COO Rick Damron attributed that success in large part to "our evolving omnichannel capabilities."

 

This evolution included the introduction of project specialists at stores across the country, along with improved product search, better product photos (including 360-degree views) and the addition of high-quality videos to Lowe's website. Together, this represents a dedicated effort to improve the customer experience - a key aspect to any omnichannel endeavor.

 

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Kohl's: Embracing Experimentation

Among retailers, Kohl's has initiated one of the more ambitious omnichannel initiatives. More specifically, last year the company announced it was taking several simultaneous steps in the omnichannel direction. These included a new "store mode" for the Kohl's mobile app, providing a more personalized experience for brick-and-mortar shoppers, and a virtual shopping bag that is accessible via smartphone, desktop or tablet.

 

This wide-ranging effort points to yet another critical component of omnichannel success: the willingness to experiment with new ways of doing business across the entire organization.

 

What steps is your company taking to embrace omnichannel?

Lots of companies now use journey maps to understand and improve the customer experience. Problem is, they don’t use them very well.

Analysts have documented this problem for years. For example, Forrester Research CX expert Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha says one common mistake is not doing the surveys, interviews and other research necessary to understand all of the customer touchpoints, behaviors, influences and needs.

“Without upfront insights, companies struggle to articulate how journey maps connect to outcomes that benefit the business and risk drowning in a myriad of initiatives that don’t target CX drivers,” she writes in “Getting Help With Customer Journey Maps.”

All journey maps are not created equal. To set your journey mapping efforts up for success, the first step is identifying the type of journey map and level of detail needed to accomplish your goals. Here are three of the most common journey mapping methods:2.jpg

  1. Customer Lifecycle – This is a high-level, end-to-end view of your customer’s experience, including pain points, touchpoints and channels, for each lifecycle phase. It’s an easy, cost-effective way to document the holistic current state experience and understand critical interactions that motivate customers to leave, stay, and recommend companies.
  1. Moment of Truth Map – Some customer interactions are more important than others. This process takes a deeper look into these customer interactions, often using in depth ethnographic research, and identifies unique customer needs during this moment and new opportunities to improve the experience.
  1. Experience Capability Map – Journey maps are becoming multi-dimensional by overlaying the customer journey with all of the back-office processes and systems that deliver the experience. This process is an eye-opener for back-office owners, who often don’t consider the influence they have over CX – and all of the opportunities they have to improve it.

When they’re done right, journey maps can become a key component of a larger strategy. For example, combining journey maps and customer research often provide companies the deep, actionable insights. One of Andrew Reise's recent blog posts describes the research options, including why they recommend in depth qualitative research over quantitative surveys.

All of this is a lot to think about. To make things less daunting, Andrew Reise is offering a couple of resources.

The first is a complimentary download of Forrester Research’s “Getting Help With Customer Journey Maps” report. It’s a concise, readable overview of journey map types, functions, and key vendors. Andrew Reise is  of course highlighted and proud to be on the short list of vendors.

Then download a free copy of “Why Journey Maps are Not Created Equal,” Andrew Reise's primer that describes the three major journey mapping methods referenced above and how to determine which one is right for your company – and customers. Got more questions? Connect at connect@andrewreise.com.

Key Takeaway: Analytics can help hiring managers assess candidates' skills while streamlining the hiring process.

 

It's no secret that finding and retaining agents is one of the biggest challenges that contact center leaders face. Contact centers tend to see very high agent attrition rates, and yet these personnel will play the greatest role in determining the overall quality of the support and customer experience the company has to offer.

 

With that in mind, it's imperative for contact center hiring managers to make the best possible choices when evaluating candidates. After all, making the right hires will improve overall contact center performance and increase the average agent tenure, as well-qualified, skilled agents will excel and be more likely to stay in their positions.

 

Of course, that's easier said than done. However, hiring managers can do themselves a big favor by taking advantage of analytics. Used effectively, analytics can go a long way toward identifying the ideal candidates to bring into the contact center - and keeping them there.

 

Setting a baseline

One of the biggest advantages inherent to incorporating analytics into the hiring process is that this approach can significantly reduce the degree of subjectivity affecting these decisions.

 

Even the most even-handed, fair-minded hiring manager will not be able to avoid a level of subjectivity when evaluating potential contact center agents - it's just human nature. This leads to two potential problems. First and most obviously, even a small amount of subjectivity may lead decision-makers to choose less-than-ideal candidates. Second, it's very possible that candidates - both those who are chosen and those who are passed over - will pick up on this subjectivity. That can undermine individuals' confidence that both their coworkers and themselves are actually the best people for the job, and can potentially create resentment that leads to even greater attrition rates.

 

Analytics can reduce or even eliminate this risk by delivering objective results. By incorporating automated, analytics-driven assessments into the evaluation process, for example, hiring managers can measure how quickly, clearly and accurately a candidate can read through a prepared script. And by using the same script and analytics tools each time, decision-makers can establish a baseline to better compare future candidates' results. Every potential hire will be evaluated in an objective and standardized fashion.

 

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The same holds true if contact center hiring managers evaluate new agents through an initial probationary period. Rather than listen in on these agents' calls (or simulated calls) and evaluate them based on subjective judgment, contact center leaders can use analytics to more accurately, objectively gauge performance. Take a look at this webinar to see an in-depth example of this concept in action.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.50.49 PM.pngSpeed and stability

Another advantage of this approach is the potential to greatly speed up the recruiting and hiring process. With automated analytics, hiring managers can evaluate multiple candidates simultaneously, without needing to devote significant amounts of time to each one. For example, the first month that SITEL Philippines embraced analytics for contact center agent hiring, it was able to process 27 percent more applicants than the previous month. This reduced recruiting resources used by 60 percent.

 

Last but not least, analytics can help contact centers to more quickly onboard and better retain their new hires. Specifically, analytics can play a key role in new hire mentoring and training. As we've noted before, personalized agent training and coaching is an excellent tool for improving employee performance. That's especially important when it comes to new hires, who may feel overwhelmed or insufficiently helped in their early days with a contact center. Interaction analytics can provide prompts and guided training based on individual hires' needs, making them feel more comfortable and confident in their new roles.

 

How is your contact center using analytics in the hiring process?

Untitled.jpgKey Takeaway: B2B companies should examine their B2C counterparts to find models for customer engagement performance improvements.

 

Customer engagement isn't just for B2C companies - it's a critical consideration for B2B firms, as well. B2B organizations that aren't able or willing to effectively engage with their clients will never maximize their revenue, their customer relationships or their competitiveness.

 

Yet a recent Gallup report revealed that the vast majority of B2B companies are coming up short when it comes to customer engagement performance. To improve in this area, B2B firms would do well to take a page from B2C companies that have developed robust, sophisticated customer engagement strategies.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.37.23 PM.pngUnimpressive B2B engagement

The Gallup survey revealed that 71 percent of B2B customers are not engaged. Diving deeper, the study found that 20 percent of responding B2B customers had experienced a problem with an organization or its products. However, of that group, only two-fifths said that the B2B company successfully resolved the issue.

 

That's an alarmingly high figure. After all, problem resolution is one of the most basic, important aspects of customer engagement in both the B2B and B2C spaces. Firms that can't effectively and quickly resolve their clients' complaints won't hold on to those customers for very long.

 

B2B engagement benefits

At the same time, the Gallup report highlighted some of the most significant benefits that B2B firms can expect when they achieve a high level of customer engagement.

 

Most notably, Gallup found that those B2B companies with high customer engagement scores enjoyed 50 percent higher revenue/sales, 34 percent higher profitability and 55 percent higher share of wallet.

 

B2C customer engagement for B2B

Given these findings, it's clear to see that B2B customer engagement is coming up short, but the rewards for improving in this area are tremendous. The question that B2B companies should ask themselves, then, is how to incorporate some of the best practices and greater degree of success that B2C companies have achieved in this capacity.

 

To a significant degree, this simply comes down to a question of commitment. If a B2B firm doesn't make customer engagement a priority, then this level of interaction and attention is not going to happen. Out of necessity, B2C companies have typically put far more value on customer engagement than B2B organizations. But this is changing. Customers, both as consumers and as business decision-makers, are becoming increasingly demanding of companies. If they feel disengaged, they will take their own and/or their organization's money elsewhere.

 

"B2B companies across all industries are at risk of being replaced - not because of their products or prices, but because they are failing their customers," Gallup concluded.

 

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As part of any effort in this direction, B2B firms should consider investing in more advanced customer engagement tools. Speech analytics solutions are obviously far more common in B2C contact centers than in the B2B space, but such resources can unveil invaluable insight that can then be leveraged for more targeted, effective customer engagement with B2B clients.

 

Just as importantly, personnel who work with B2B customers need to receive greater training to help them better recognize their clients' needs as well as opportunities for more sophisticated engagement efforts. This is arguably even more important for B2B, given that personnel at B2C firms will likely have more background in this area.

 

Lastly, and simply, B2B organizations need to have sufficient resources on hand to handle their customer engagement requirements. Whenever a client reaches out, the business needs to have the ability to answer and to continue the conversation on an ongoing basis.

 

What customer engagement recommendations do you have for B2B companies?

first-call-resolution-best-practices.pngCall centers don’t have much of a choice but to meet customer expectations in today’s competitive markets. Figures show that U.S. businesses lose $84 billion as a result of unsatisfactory customer service. However, with the proper first call resolution (FCR) best practices in place, higher FCR rates are within reach.

 

FCR not only impacts the customer experience, but also optimizes your contact center’s efficiency while reducing operational costs. A metric too costly not to measure and implement, we’ve put together a list of FCR best practices. How does your call center currently monitor and track FCR? What would you include in our list?

 

[FULL BLOG POST]

 

This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

beginner27s guide.pngLet’s face it: In today’s marketplace, the consumer is in the driver’s seat.  What this means for businesses looking to remain in good standing with customers is that it’s critical to provide exceptional customer service.

 

But the question is: How?

 

With speech analytics in place, companies can determine agent training and coaching opportunities, uncover customer preferences and pain points, and proactively identify business process issues.  The end result?  Improved agent performance, which leads to a better customer experience overall.

 

To get started with speech analytics, it’s important to develop an understanding of core speech analytics capabilities, ask the right questions when evaluating the software, and quickly move from installation to implementation of the technology.

 

[FULL BLOG POST]

 

This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

call-center-adherence-best-practices.pngNo matter how you look at it, wasted time equals wasted money – whatever your industry may be. Yes, there are a number of ways to enhance schedule adherence in the call center so your business can make the most efficient use of time – but how do you know if you’re using the most appropriate metrics for your call center in particular?

 

To shed light on this issue, we’ve put together a list from industry experts on how they define call center adherence. These best practices will help you optimize valuable time of your call center agents and customers.

 

How does your call center define schedule adherence? What expert advice would you include in our list?

 

[FULL BLOG POST]

 

This post originally appeared on CallMiner.