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2016

3_common_omni-channel_strategy_mistakes2.jpgThe Takeaway: Embracing omnichannel is critical, but businesses need to exercise caution to avoid these common missteps – over-promising, not minimizing repetition in the process and overlooking analytics.

 

Omnichannel, once an abstract concept, is steadily moving into the mainstream. Countless companies are currently developing omnichannel strategies, and as our recent blog post highlighted, some leading retailers have made tremendous strides in this direction. At the same time, though, omnichannel - along with customer journey and omnichannel analytics - remains a goal for the future for most organizations (see our new white paper for more details). As a word of advice to those companies, rushing toward omnichannel too quickly can heighten the risk of committing serious mistakes.

 

Here are three of the most common mistakes that businesses make when embracing omnichannel.

 

1. Over-Promising, Under-Delivering

The single biggest, and most common, omnichannel mistake that companies make is over-promising. Businesses are so eager to deliver an omnichannel customer experience that they prematurely claim to have actually reached this level of service and support.

 

This is really the worst possible outcome. It is much better for businesses to recognize their limitations and be upfront with customers than to make promises they can't deliver, as that only leads to disappointment and resentment. Notably, Lisa Nirell, writing for the Huffington Post, noted that about one-third of the firms she surveyed made their phone numbers and email addresses invisible, despite making claims in their "About Us" section regarding their commitment to customer engagement.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.04.09 AM.pngPromising omnichannel when it's out of reach is an even greater offense, and will create a major backlash among customers who thought they'd be able to move smoothly from one channel to another only to find they cannot.

 

2. Minimize Repetition

Being forced to repeat information more than once is one of the biggest gripes consumers harbor when it comes to customer service, as Microsoft's Matt Kresch noted. People find it uniquely frustrating to deal with redundancies in the customer service space.

 

In a true omnichannel environment, customers should be able to smoothly transition from one medium to another without the need to repeat themselves. In that sense, this goes back to the issue of promising omnichannel when a company can't actually provide that capability. But when many companies consider omnichannel, they focus more on the retail experience, rather than customer service, and so this issue goes underappreciated.

 

Any company that is able to deliver omnichannel from a shopping perspective needs to make sure that this same fluidity is available via all customer engagement channels.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.04.22 AM.png

3. Overlooking Analytics

One of the biggest advantages of developing omnichannel is the potential for customer insight. Businesses can gain far greater information regarding their customers when they have a clear view of how consumers move through an omnichannel environment.

 

For that insight to deliver the maximum results, though, customer journey analytics are essential. And many companies tend to underdevelop their efforts in this area before launching their omnichannel capabilities. It would be fair to argue that analytics are so important that this intelligence-gathering component is an obvious first step toward deployment of a full omnichannel solution.

 

What omnichannel missteps have you witnessed at other companies?

gold.jpgUnstructured data presents a goldmine of information, but mining that gold is no easy task—it requires coding with detailed text analysis. To be clear, unstructured data includes customer survey text comments, customer service calls, emails, chats, reviews, and other narrative sources of information. It’s the data that doesn’t fall into neat, easy categories—so the signal often gets lost in the noise.

 

Some companies are so stumped by their unstructured data that they just toss it and hope no gold nuggets were lost. This is a grave mistake because customer verbatims are—quite literally—the voice of the customer.

 

Here’s what’s going on with unstructured data:

 

Companies don’t know the best practices for quantifying their unstructured data, so they rely on out-of-the-box software solutions. Or worse, they simply read the comments, but this doesn’t provide the precise metrics you need for success.

 

In our ROI-driven world, managers are unsure if rigorous text analysis will lead to a profitable payoff—but the fact is, it probably will.

 

Food for Thought: How would your company be more profitable with greater visibility into your unstructured data?

 

Go beyond simple tone and sentiment analyses. With text analysis you’ll have customer effort metrics, department-specific recommendations, and meta-themes in your customers’ experiences. To find out more, sign up for our complimentary MetricsLAB©. It’s a great way to learn about the metrics you get from unstructured data, and whether they’d be valuable for you.

 

About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.

Tools-blog-image.jpgKey Takeaway: The omnichannel age has not arrived as quickly or smoothly as expected, but businesses still can - and should - take steps to prepare for and embrace omnichannel in the contact center.

 

For years now, omnichannel has been a leading buzzword in the customer engagement space. Countless industry leaders and experts have offered predictions about how omnichannel will change not just the retail space, but also the customer service arena more broadly.

 

To a significant degree, this remains the case. The difference is that many organizations now claim to have already achieved or embraced omnichannel but frequently do not live up to this measure. What's more, many expected omnichannel capabilities to be fully installed by now, and the fact that this reality is not living up to this level of anticipation makes some question the viability of omnichannel, both in general and specifically as it relates to the contact center.

 

In light of all this, it's important for customer engagement professionals to recognize two facts: 1) Claiming to achieve omnichannel and actually delivering those capabilities are two very different things, and 2) it is definitely possible to move in that direction, so long as companies embrace the right strategy and are realistic about what it will take to achieve their goals.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 8.11.06 AM.pngOmnichannel Realities

Looking at the state of omnichannel today can be a disappointing exercise. At the recent World Retail Congress 2016, only 21 percent of surveyed executives said they have become more confident in their businesses' omnichannel capabilities over the course of the past year, and almost half said their companies are not moving in this direction fast enough, Retail Dive reported. What's more, only 6 percent of participants called their omnichannel offerings "excellent."

 

In some cases, companies' efforts to achieve omnichannel may actually backfire. For example, No Jitter contributor and industry expert Gerrit V Lydecker Jr. detailed a recent experience wherein he lost his credit card and reached out to his bank for support. While he was on the bank's website, a representative reached out to him via live chat. That agent eventually realized that Lydecker would need to speak with another representative on the phone. This would be fine, and even impressive, if the live chat agent could simply transition this conversation to the colleague. Instead, though, the writer was forced to call himself and repeat a great deal of the information he'd already provided.

 

In this case, the bank, in trying to embrace omnichannel, actually delivered a worse customer experience while wasting its own employee's time. Clearly, that's not omnichannel.

 

This anecdote exemplifies the notion that if a company is unable to genuinely achieve omnichannel in its customer engagement efforts, it is better off not making that claim in the first place. When a firm states that it can provide omnichannel service and then comes up short, customers' expectations are at first elevated, but then disappointed.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 8.11.20 AM.png

Omnichannel Ahead

None of this should be taken to mean that omnichannel is some sort of unobtainable goal. It's all but certain that omnichannel will become increasingly achievable in the coming years, and eventually it will be seen as the standard for customer experience. Anything less than omnichannel will seem subpar once that is the case, and so organizations should continue to strive to achieve this level of capabilities.

 

But they need to be realistic about their current status quo and the challenges that stand in the way.

 

Addressing this issue, The Industry contributor Andy Donaldson asserted that there are three key obstacles that must be addressed before achieving omnichannel success: the silo mentality, the use of data and digital channel analysis shortcomings. The first of these is perhaps the easiest to overcome, as it's purely an organizational issue. Data is arguably more difficult, as firms must learn how to not only share data internally, but also leverage that information through every channel. Similarly, analytics are essential for refining engagement across an omnichannel environment.

 

Those challenges help to explain why the omnichannel reality has not arrived as early as hoped. At the same time, though, they are all clearly surmountable, suggesting omnichannel truly is on the horizon.

 

What steps is your company taking to embrace omnichannel customer engagement?

contact-analytics-improve-agent-performance.jpgThink, for a moment, about the last time you had an exceptional experience as a customer.  What stood out to you?  What do you remember the most?

 

Chances are more than likely that your noteworthy experience came as a result of the customer service agent behind the interaction.  Due to their position on the front lines of customer interaction, agents are often directly responsible for making – or breaking – a customer relationship.

 

But what can you do to ensure that your contact center agents are providing the types of experiences customers are looking to have?

 

Here’s a look at a few of the ways contact analytics can help improve agent performance and lead to a better customer experience.

 

[FULL BLOG POST]

 

This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAARkAAAAJDc4NzE2MWE2LWNhNmMtNGEzZi1hZGRmLTFlZWIwOWFlNzcxOQ.jpgKey Takeaway: Managers should consider deploying analytics to evaluate new agents' compliance and quality of speech.

 

Analytics' role in the customer engagement space is growing, and has been for some time. Contact center leaders now recognize that by embracing speech, interaction and other forms of analytics, they can gain an unprecedented degree of insight into their customers - as well as their agents. In turn, that information can lead to better-informed policies and strategies.

 

One of the most intriguing and potentially beneficial applications of analytics technologies in this area concerns new hire training. With robust analytics, contact centers can significantly improve both the speed and effectiveness of onboarding, increasing new hires' results and ability to maintain compliance.

 

Speed Enhancement

Ramping up new agents is among the biggest challenges that virtually every contact manager must face. The unfortunate reality is that agent retention is a serious problem throughout the customer engagement space, and while there are steps that contact centers can take to alleviate this issue - such as encouraging teamwork - there is simply no way to fully eliminate it. That means it will always be important to train new agents as quickly as possible. The more time spent onboarding, the less efficient the contact center as a whole will be.

 

Analytics, particularly speech analytics, can play a powerful role in this regard. With these tools, contact center leaders can identify with precision the tactics successful, seasoned professionals use to thrive in their positions, as Zoom International blog contributor Kveta Vostra highlighted. Rather than having new agents listen in on their colleagues' conversations in the hopes that they pick up on effective tactics, analytics can clearly and unambiguously highlight strategies for recent hires to embrace.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.21.18 PM.png

This has a wide range of applications. For example, supervisors can use analytics to improve new hires' performance in regard to upsells by identifying the sorts of cues that more experienced representatives pick up on naturally. Sentiment analysis will be able to guide trainees as to when to use appropriate empathy statements.

 

Vostra pointed out that this is beneficial not just for the company, but also for the agents themselves. After all, customer service representatives appreciate the objective feedback that analytics delivers. Rather than getting frustrated by their own poor performances or what they perceive to be unfair, subjective evaluations, new agents can look at their analytics reviews and see clearly where they thrived and where they need to improve. The faster new hires are able to learn, the more satisfied they will be with their positions.

 

Compliance Concerns

Just as significantly, contact center leaders can use analytics to deliver more effective compliance training to their recently hired agents.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.22.30 PM.pngFor example, a contact center can incorporate practice calling in its new-hire training, and then run analytics on the resulting conversations. The contact center manager can then evaluate the results to see if the agent violated any compliance rules by disclosing inappropriate information, failing to provide necessary disclaimers and so on. With speech analytics, there's no need for a supervisor to listen in on every one of these practice conversations to personally monitor the agent's compliance efforts - the analytics solution will deliver the results automatically. Again, this speeds up the training process, while also increasing accuracy and effectiveness.

 

Ultimately, the benefits of analytics for agent training can be boiled down to the notion that new representatives can gain a great deal of guidance, experience and expertise prior to their first customer calls while requiring less time and attention from their supervisors.

 

How is your contact center leveraging analytics for agent training?

customer-satisfaction-surveys-text-analysis.pngThe point of a customer survey is to learn what you don’t know, and gain insight into what’s driving customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction. And while billions of customer surveys are issued each year—typically including open-ended comment fields—most survey programs lack research protocols for listening to and understanding what customers are actually saying in those comments.

After all, as Seth Godin said in a recent blog: “If you're not going to read the answers and take action, why are you asking?” In a moment, we’ll get to why reading isn’t enough, but Seth is on the right path.

 

There are a few reasons behind why companies often ignore their valuable customer comments.

 

First, many executives don’t know there are research methods for systematically and efficiently unpacking customer comments. Certainly, executives know that they could read comments or apply software-based text analytics—but what’s really needed to unpack meaning is intelligent text analysis. Unfortunately, most research agencies have not been good at educating the marketplace on the advantages of this kind of analysis.

 

Second, many companies—in spite of their banners and slogans pledging their customer focus—just aren’t that focused on customers and their experiences, because in the short term, it can be difficult to see how customer research is profitable.

 

But common sense and extensive research proves that “the market works”; customers reward companies that provide superior experiences. Nevertheless, the reality for many companies is that the voice of the customer can seem like something off in the distance, compared to the “right now” importance of shaving costs, boosting margins, etc.

 

So there are several reasons that customer comments get the short end of the stick, but when intelligent text analysis is applied to comments, that’s when you start to uncover incredibly valuable, actionable insights into specific ways to improve.

 

Is text analysis similar to just reading customer comments? Not at all. The problem with reading comments is that the brain’s working memory starts cutting off at seven items. So even if you read thousands of comments, there’s really no point, because you simply can’t remember and synthesize all that information.

 

You may see a few obvious problems you already knew about, but you won’t see the details or possible solutions. Furthermore, you’ll overlook more subtle existing problems, and new problems you’re not prepared to recognize. Even worse, you can’t quantify anything about this data. So if you’re only reading your survey comments, you won’t learn about unknown problems and ways to improve—and you won’t have a compelling report because business audiences demand numbers, not meandering stories.

 

Software-based text analytics is another way to handle customer comments—and because software can identify some types of customer issues in real time, it’s a step in the right direction. However, software text analytics runs the risk of missing problems you’re not aware of, because it’s limited (even biased) by the words, expressions and facts that you already know to look for.

 

In the same way that customer experiences are varied and complex, customer comments are messy and unpredictable. They can be brief or lengthy, vague or hyper specific. Some comments stay on-topic; others trail off from the question. And of course, customers refer to similar issues in different ways—and within all this complexity lies valuable, game-changing insights.

 

Intelligent text analysis requires a team of expert analysts so that comments can be deciphered from multiple perspectives. It also requires protocols for:

 

• Filtering out non-codeable text

• Building an initial framework of codes

• Establishing a statistically valid sample of codeable comments

• Adding new codes for emergent themes (good text analysis must be performed in an iterative, non-linear way)

• Scoring the coded sample to enable prioritization of themes

• Presenting prioritized themes with clear examples and solutions

 

Loyal customers who come back and buy again—that’s the end goal. To get there, you need actionable customer surveys with intelligent text analysis. If you spend resources on a customer survey (like most companies do), it makes no sense to ignore the answers. So ask. Then listen. Don’t let your customer survey comments be a sunk cost.

 

Want to learn more about survey strategies? Start for free.

 

About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.

feedback-form-excellent-1238383.pngMost customer satisfaction surveys suffer from uneven customer representation, which leads to inaccurate data. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” And let’s face it, garbage should never be the basis of your business decisions. You deserve facts, not fiction. So here are a few ways to improve your customer survey sampling methods to achieve balanced customer representation and high quality data.


Customer Survey Sampling Error #1:
Non-Response Bias, Some Don’t Respond

Just because you openly invite all customers to take your survey does not mean you have a random sample. The difference between an open invite and randomized responses is critical because satisfied customers with time to spare tend to be the population most apt to take your survey.

Similarly, you are more likely to hear from repeat customers than from one-time customers—yet customers who aren't coming back may have the most useful feedback.
Here are a few ways to get a representative customer survey sample:

• Start by dividing your customer database into categories, such as: current most-profitable customers, current less-profitable customers, lapsed customers, long-gone customers, prior most-profitable customers, etc.

For each customer category, determine how many customers you need to survey to achieve a reasonable confidence interval and error rate. Then randomly select customers from each category you want to test.

Proactively ask the selected customers for their feedback. You may need to offer incentives. Test different types of incentives, but make sure they’re not related to the products or services you sell, because this introduces yet another type of bias—those who like your product will be more inclined to take your customer survey.

When you invite customers to take your survey, ask if they would prefer to share their thoughts by phone at a convenient time. Creative, busy, and dissatisfied customers may not be receptive to multiple choice questions—yet for accurate, actionable data, you need to hear from your entire population. Again, using an incentive may need to be part of your customer survey strategy.


Customer Survey Sampling Error #2:
The Medium Controls the Audience

Do you offer your survey online? By IVR? Mail? Email? How you provide your customer survey has a huge impact on who takes it. Here are a few ways to increase responses from all your survey channels and correct for channel-related distortion:

Most likely, your customer satisfaction survey is online, which provides for a variety of delivery options. Set up your survey so customers can dial an 800 number, visit a URL, or use their mobile to text their answers. The more options you offer, the more respondents you’ll get.

Be willing to receive survey responses the way customers want to give them. For example, if you email your customers with a link to your survey, tell customers that if they prefer, they can simply reply to the email with their thoughts about your company and their experiences—they don’t have to take the survey. Then, use a scientific coding technique to incorporate their open-ended comments with the rest of your text analysis.

Finally, tell customers the survey is short, and then keep good on the promise.

Most customer surveys are plagued with biases—and sampling errors are just one type. But with strategies to prevent sample bias and channel distortion, you’ll be one step closer to accurate data, leading to decisions based on fact, not fiction.

Gain a new perspective. Start for free.

 

About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.

dashboard-400x250.jpgCustomer service representatives are at the heart of any call center environment.  They’re the ones on the front lines interacting with customers, and they’re the ones who have the ability to either positively or negatively impact the customer experience.

 

In order to drive optimal agent performance at all times, call centers should invest in agent performance dashboards.  The advantages are many:

  • Provide actionable agent performance data in real time
  • Offer alerts and notifications of any issues (compliance or otherwise) that may result during a customer interaction
  • Drive overall agent engagement

 

The end result of such a solution is not only improved agent performance, but also richer customer interactions that can lead to customer retention, loyalty, and repeat business down the line.

 

[FULL BLOG POST]

 

This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

race2.jpgKey Takeaway: It's not enough to match your competitors' CX efforts - you need to develop and implement plans to improve on the industry standard at all times.

 

For anyone hoping to increase and improve customer engagement, the customer experience is pivotal. There's simply no way to create and benefit from meaningful engagement if consumers are disappointed by the quality of the company's CX offering. Most business leaders today recognize the importance of both customer engagement and CX, and so both have become priorities across just about every sector.

 

Here's the issue: Just because an organization has made CX a priority does not mean it does enough in that area. In many cases, all this translates to is an effort to monitor competitors' CX capabilities and keep pace with those developments.

 

That shouldn't be seen as making CX a priority - it's more like achieving the absolute baseline. To truly stand out and thrive, firms need to go one step further and get out ahead of their rivals' CX offerings.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 3.49.04 PM.pngThe CX Battleground

If you're not sure about how big of an issue this is, consider the fact that a report from Gartner last year predicted "a customer experience battlefield" in 2016. The research firm surveyed a range of companies and found 89 percent believed that CX will prove to be the "primary basis for competition" this year.

 

The report went on to explain that hypercompetition has played a major role here, making it difficult or even impossible for companies to gain an advantage over their industry rivals in terms of either the quality or pricing of their products and services. Consequently, it's become harder than ever for businesses to develop effective brand loyalty among their customers through traditional strategies. Instead, firms need to offer a customer experience that stands out from their competitors.

 

A lot of companies are already moving in this direction. Gartner noted that two-thirds of surveyed firms expected to be industry leaders in terms of CX within five years, even though less than half saw themselves as leaders in this regard at the time of the study.

 

Plans Vs. Reality

Yet there is a big difference between striving to achieve a competitive advantage with CX and actually making those goals a reality.

 

A study from Forbes Insights and Oracle found that 88 percent of more than 400 executives believed they were making significant progress toward modernizing their customer support. At the same time, though, only 75 percent of their organizations enabled agents to effectively consolidate user data for consistent cross-channel service. Even more significantly, only 60 percent said they have managed to streamline support processes to lower customer effort and raise user satisfaction scores.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 3.43.45 PM.png

 

While those numbers aren't terrible by any means, they demonstrate that there is definitely a disconnect between firms claiming to make CX a top-level focus and taking action in this regard. This isn't really surprising - excellent CX is much easier in theory than in practice. But it's certainly critical to remember that these goals need to be paired with concrete steps.

 

Just as importantly, the fact remains that more than half of those executives surveyed here were indeed making positive gains in the realm of CX. That suggests that improvements in this area will be necessary just to keep pace, and more significant strides will likely prove essential for those companies looking to develop a genuine advantage.

 

Time Remaining

One potential positive takeaway here is that the competition may not be quite as fierce as these surveys suggest. CustomerThink Corp. CEO Bob Thompson interviewed a number of CX thought leaders, asking them to react to Gartner's findings on the CX battleground. Most of these experts argued that Gartner's report identified an important and real trend, but that CX will not be such a powerful and exclusive differentiator as soon as this year.

 

"The reality is whilst they may be conscious of this, right now not enough of these businesses possess the competencies and capabilities to know how to do it!" Ian Golding, CX consultant and proponent, told Thompson.

 

That means there's still time for businesses to ramp up their CX capabilities and position themselves for a major competitive advantage going forward. Here are a few key ways for firms to position themselves to thrive in this area:

  • Embrace analytics: It's impossible for a company to deliver optimized CX unless it first completely understands who its customers are and what they want. To that end, analytics is essential.
  • Invest in training: Ultimately, a company's CX offering will depend heavily on the effectiveness of its agents are in this area. Training today can help prepare representatives to deliver optimized CX support in the near future.

 

How is your business getting ahead of the CX curve?

Last week I spoke at the Society for Service Executives Symposium in Chicago. As always, when the primary topic is customer satisfaction, there was a lot of talk about NPS (Net Promoter Score). As I have often said, it’s a tired customer survey question—and that’s just one of its shortcomings. Another issue, as Lori Bocklund of Strategic Contact recently wrote about, is that it’s a metric based on a single question—and as she summarized the problem, you need “One Number, NOT One Question.NPS-Net-Promoter-Score-Cant-Fix-Touchpoints.png

 

Today, I want to reflect on another shortfall of NPS, which is that it lacks actionability. It lacks actionability because it’s unclear which touchpoint it refers to. Here’s an example: A customer gives you a 2/10 NPS rating. You’d want to fix that, right? But unless you know what went wrong, at what touchpoint…well, good luck solving the problem.

 

Or say a customer gives you an 8/10 NPS rating. That’s better. But it’s only sort of better—because you don’t know what went well, so you don’t know what to replicate.

 

Actionable customer surveys uncover what’s good and bad—and why. They are touchpoint-specific. As Lori said in her blog, customer experiences are too complex for a single question. The only way to get accurate, actionable data is by asking specific questions relevant to each touchpoint.

 

Examples of touchpoints include: when the product is delivered, tech support when installing the product, when the product is returned, etc. But customers have different expectations at each touchpoint. That’s why you can’t improve by asking one question about them all.

 

The fact is that you can GIVE and GET value through each customer interaction—and this is foundational to Interaction Thinking™. However, most companies fail to get value because their survey data isn’t accurate. Or, they fail to give value because their customer surveys are dull and unengaging. So if you want to make the most of your customer survey, you need to zoom in on specific touchpoint details.

 

Is your customer survey as specific to your touchpoints as it can be? Start for free to find out. There’s a good chance your survey could be giving you more useful value about your touchpoints, while showing customers that you care and are actually listening.

 

About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.