We’ve all been there: when dealing with a customer service department, we’ve been asked to enter our account number or phone number when first dialing, only to be asked again a few minutes later by an agent when they finally appear on the line. The agent doesn’t know what the customer wants, or that they called the day before to complain about a service disruption.
In 2015, companies have the opportunity to move away from the disjointed customer experiences of the past and manage their customer interactions more adeptly. It’s time to make it easier for the customer to communicate with agents at a company, making their requirements known once, so that agents can better serve their needs.
Customers are increasingly using mobile devices as a first port of call for interacting with companies. Smartphones provide the means to access various communication channels. One way for a company to communicate more effectively with a customer is to be close to them, on the device that they use every day.
A mobile application, branded for a company, has the advantage of being able to track a customer’s activity as they access its various features. Customers can select the kinds of services that they need, and set their own parameters for those services.
Perhaps a customer may have a query about a particular bill. They could select the bill on the mobile app, and even highlight a particular line item.
The mobile app would then offer them the chance to communicate instantly with the company. Instant communication could come in the form of a ‘call me’ button, or an in-app call, placed directly to the call centre.
As the call came in, agents would be provided with all of the necessary information to serve that customer’s needs. They could see what the customer had selected on the app, and have access to the same bill and line item that the customer wanted to discuss.
Another benefit of using mobile apps as a means of connecting customers with the contact center is context. Phones know where the customer is, and potentially what they’re doing. It’s plausible that a contact center might see a phone moving quickly along a rail line and realise that a customer is heading towards France on the channel tunnel, for example. Such information could provide a wealth of information for agents, enabling them to understand the customer’s current activities and needs.
These applications will eventually replace what customers normally do painstakingly via IVR, while providing a more visual and intuitive interaction in the process. And it carries another advantage: because the app has already gathered all the necessary detail about the customer’s requirements, the contact centre can then forward the request to the agent best-suited for the interaction.
The mobile app will thus become a central point for the company to track the customer’s journey as they make their way through its products and services. Agents can gain a more intimate understanding of how the customer got to where they are. They can make more informed decisions about how to help that customer, or perhaps even how to interest them in other products and services at appropriate times.
unified customer experience
The mobile app will also become a way to help tie the customer’s experience together across multiple channels. Ten years ago, phones were used mainly for voice calls. Now, they are used for emails, SMS messaging, web chat and video calls.
Companies have also expanded their channel coverage still further, by monitoring and contributing to social networks. These networks can provide valuable intelligence on customer experiences, enabling companies to address unhappy customers before a bad experience goes viral, for example.
In many cases, though, the move to multi-channel communications has also made it even more difficult for companies to aggregate information about a customer’s experience. The systems that collect information from these different channels are often separate, because they have been added independently of each other, often by different teams, in different branches of the organization.
This has led to a siloed architecture, where information doesn’t flow easily between systems. Consequently, customers find themselves having to re-explain everything when they deal with different branches of the business, or interact through different channels.
Combined with a robust CRM system, and the appropriate integration of back-end data, the mobile app offers a way back; to reclaim a time when a customer was able to call a company and feel valued. A time when dealing with companies felt easy, and personal.
In concert, these developments will provide a platform for companies to switch their business focus to a customer-centric one, in which customers are put squarely at the centre of the interaction.
Everything from the way that records are kept, through to the organisation of customer sales and support teams, should focus on the customer, rather than forcing the customer to navigate complex company support structures. And the mobile app could be a focal point for that development.
Find out more about the digital customer experience from Orange Business Services.