Customer Experience for all?

Do we all want, need or expect the same?

I suspect not. However, I do believe that table stakes are similar…

  • We expect to be able to make contact with our suppliers – preferably on our channel of choice, and time convenient to us
  • We expect to be able to engage in a Q and A style exchange.
  • We expect an outcome/resolution – hoping for a good one of course.

I wonder how this has played out for everyone generally, but especially over the Covid lockdown period.
We’ve encountered the pleadings on the website and received email blasts asking us to not make contact unless absolutely essential, or an emergency.
And if you can find a phone number, you’re typically warned of the problems you’re about to encounter with lack of staff and increased demand on their services, and very often simply disconnected.
All in all, rather unsatisfying and somewhat annoying don’t you think…

Why is this happening then?

Covid19 clearly resulted in organisations being unable to staff their contact centres, as social distancing and work from home edicts took hold. Many businesses, despite what we might think were simply unprepared for what happened. One wonders what their DR (Disaster Recovery) plans look like.
We’re in the age of the cloud, which is a fantastic enabler for “anywhere working” technically. The fact that many organisations have yet to fully embrace cloud is a key contributor to their inability to quickly change from a centralised “bodies in the office”, to decentralised, home located setup.
It’s also true that many organisations have also been slow to adapt to the emergence of digital first and self-service preferences for a growing number of the population. The ability to seek answers for yourself via your smartphone and on your channel of choice is a huge breakthrough, and is good for everyone. The supplier, their staff, and if course the customer – You and me.

How is it good for everyone?

You get to choose your time and channel for engagement…. You dictate the pace of engagement too. Imagine chatting with your supplier to resolve a query, in near real-time, whilst traveling to work (post Covid) via WhatsApp. Your questions get understood using Artificial Intelligence, natural language processing and intent engines, and you are guided to your solution all in your time. If your query is more complex, then the ability to switch dynamically to a channel supported by a human ensures a higher degree of certainty that a good outcome can be quickly achieved. This could include escalation to a voice call with a suitably trained and empowered agent. Critically though, the agent is prepared with the context and background to your call before engaging…phew. Who doesn’t love repeating over and over, why you are calling ಠ_ಠ
The agents, are assured that the contacts they receive are requiring a higher level of human intervention, and not simple mundane transactional tasks, and of course they have context, rather than knowingly creating annoyance before starting. These repetitive calls can be both tedious and almost certainly dull, monotonous and demotivating. Removing this means that staff are happier and more fulfilled.
The organisation, is able to offer higher levels of service to it’s customers at a lower interaction cost, service more customers more efficiently and with higher levels of satisfaction.
Koopid.ai’s cloud hosted solution adds intelligent AI powered automation to your contact centre without huge disruption, providing an elegant digital overlay with integration to your existing platform. Deployment can be achieved in just a matter of days, and once installed, additional channels can easily be added and new workflows implemented in-house, in no time at all.
Find out more at www.koopid.ai call 0800 999 1882 or email Koopid@trustbusinesspartners.com

Customer Experience powered by AI

Learn more about how #KoopidAI are disrupting the #ContactCentre market with #Conversational #AI and join this instructive webinar https://twitter.com/grahambunting/status/1268913519715594251?s=09

Covid-19 Challenges, you rise

It’s often said, that we are not defined by what happens to us, but how we chose to respond. Today is no different, in that tough times call for tough people, resilience and innovation.

Koopid.ai is a start up embracing AI and focusing on the Customer Experience journey.

Omni channel has been touted for some time now, but what we’ve been seeing is multi-channel, where in some cases complementary non voice channels do exist to meet customers on their preferred channel, but so often, they are siloed and cumbersome and mostly offer poor user experience.

Koopid’s approach is to connect channels and ensure persistence to the engagement, such that a move to another channel takes historic conversation with it, to prepare (the agent for example) for a better quality engagement, and of course a more satisfying user experience.

They’ve just released a white paper which you can download here

Who cares if you are a leader or a follower

Who cares if you are a leader or a follower?

There is a saying that goes like this “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”.

Congratulation you’re receiving my money

I think for some considerable time, we have been seeing an increasingly cynical society, where we struggle to accept that there are simple and genuine reasons for people’s acts of benevolence. Often this is seen simply as an “act” designed to deceive and ultimately benefit the “giver” in some hidden way. This may well be the case, but I’m a strong believer that the vast majority of people are good people, with good intentions. That said, I am always very careful and certainly do not see myself falling foul of the constant email offers for millions of dollars from “very kind people” I have never met who want me to take their money, by simply sending my bank details to them.

Uncaring and distant

Ultimately we are looking for excellent care and support from the businesses to whom we entrust with the supply of goods and services to us, and this is where all businesses should be aiming.

Too often businesses are seen as distant and disconnected to the needs of their customers, seemingly making it difficult to make contact, and when they do, with unempowered “cannon fodder” staff.

Everyone’s a loser.

Lose\lose – unhappy and frustrated customers, and unhappy and frustrated customer service agents.

Walking a mile in your customer’s shoes will certainly help, and let’s be really clear, customers are currently getting a bum deal in the main.

If your customers are contacting you via webchat, messaging, or phone, it’s probably because that’s what they’re comfortable doing, so what’s stopping you?

It’s a win\win

Automation and AI are rapidly becoming mainstream, and meeting customers the way they want to contact you should be a priority, and the byproduct is good for you – more automation of repetitive tasks and transactional engagements leave staff free for more “human” tasks and people centred interactions. Your customers are happier because they can stay in control and your staff do more rewarding work. What’s not to like.

It’s the end of the road

So if you are ploughing an independent furrow and leading the way, or simply trailing behind the leaders in your field, the bend in the road needs to be taken, or it may well end up being the end of the road for your business

The reason we’re here..

As a customer of many organisations ourselves, we’re all extremely well placed to understand what good, or great customer service looks and feels like. So why is it that so many, especially larger organisations find it so difficult to raise their game? I can’t bring myself to consider that they just don’t care… But I am prepared to consider that they have priorities a little messed up, and perhaps they have a culture and/or technology issue too.

The critical point of engagement for many businesses now, is not face to face, as most communication is via a mobile device. This could be a phone call, a webchat, a social media chat (publicly or privately), WhatsApp etc.. The medium itself isn’t the issue I don’t believe, but the customer experience (cx) is critical.

There are a few possibilities here, and some or all will apply.

1. Too much automation… Lacking human empathy especially where things aren’t completely black and white. This causes frustration for the customer resulting in a seriously poor customer experience.

2. Agents who are poorly trained lacking empathy and probably critically not suitably empowered or even motivated.

3. Poor (or lack of) tools and processes and lack of information for the agents to be able to effectively handle some calls or enquiries.

4. Integrated systems… Often businesses operate with disparate systems that do not inter-operate and therefore access to appropriate and often critical information becomes unnecessarily difficult. The agents at the coalface are therefore ill equipped to address many of the customer’s issues. This leads to friction and a feeling that the customer just isn’t important. Own goal!

Bold business leadership is called for, and this demands that customers are placed at the centre of the business strategy, so that the customer experience (cx) is an exemplar.

Who’s bold enough to do this I wonder? It needn’t be overwhelming for the business. In fact I’d suggest this will inspire the business and raise the game – happy to help if you’d like

Customers are such an inconvenience!!

We don’t have time for customers, we have a business to run

Surveys tell us that Customer Service is a significant priority for the C-Suite and yet so often their customers are left feeling not only insignificant but an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction from the act of running the business. It’s as if the execs have forgotten that they have a business purely to serve their customers.

The senior leadership hide away from customers when they call to complain when they haven’t received what they were promised or that the service they received was poor. Instead of fronting up to the customer to listen and learn, they send someone more junior with no “real” remit or authority, and so the customer will too frequently become an ex-customer and then take to social media bemoaning that awful company

It need not be like that and executives need to understand that customers are their very purpose and not a distraction from running the business. Unsatisfied customers can be turned and the learning is there for those who will “face the music”. As they say in NLP – There is no failure, only feedback.

Inspect what you expect – is as true today as its always been!

I just heard my wife on the phone to one of our local banks – a bricks and mortar branch. She was looking to visit to set up a bank account for our youngest daughter. After a short intro conversation, there was a pause whilst the bank representative presumably went away to check something.

After a short while the conversation continued. “We have an appointment at 3pm today” she said. My wife responded, “unfortunately that isn’t convenient for me today, thank you”.

After another short pause, my wife went on to say, “OK I’ll have to try another local bank instead, thank you”, and she was allowed to end the call with the expected polite goodbyes, but no offer to establish a convenient alternative!

I wonder if this is typical of how organisations like banks now expect their teams to engage with clients and prospective clients – because I daresay that if it was my business, I’d want way more effort to ensure that we had tried all the tools in the box to satisfy the customer inquiry, so that we could meet them at a convenient time and secure them as a new client

Customer care seems to be missing – or at least there appears to be no care during this event, and the customer experience is poor to say the least, and there is no sale or customer gain.

What do you think?

Your product’s good but customer service sucks!

Having spent a chunk of my working life in the voice technology space at a time when organisations ran “Call Centres”, I’m familiar with the machinations of the business leaders with regards to resourcing this area of the business.

In the early days, it wasn’t unusual for some business leaders to think that installing a call centre was a panacea that would result in awesome customer reviews and no lost or abandoned calls. They were in the minority of course, and this is certainly not true. In fact, there is a story of a client, who after installing his new Call Centre, was dismayed to find that he was now losing lots of calls and it must be set up incorrectly. As you all know, he was always missing lots of calls, it was now the case that he could categorically know and report on the activities. The adage of “if you can’t measure it, you cannot manage it” is as true as it’s always been.

Omnichannel Contact Centres

Technology advances brought us to multi-channel Contact Centres and the challenge of resourcing remained. The conundrum, of course, being affordability – handling every single incoming event within 5 seconds is achievable, but at manpower cost. So, the solution mostly lies in implementing technology to support the people dealing with your customers. Here also lies the challenge – of poorly implemented technology, and poorly trained and unempowered agents. All of this spells danger.

There are many reasons that a business might have for creating an area of their business as a Contact Centre, and the agents could have a range of different roles and skills. The focus of this missive is the role of Customer Service.

Know your customer

There are today in 2019, organisations that appear to not understand the customers they are choosing to serve, in that they don’t offer them the ability to contact them in a way that they choose, but instead limit them to the services that are deemed convenient and manageable for the Business, and then they resource the Contact Centre with staff who are unempowered and who have a limited ability to affect the outcome. I have personally encountered the Contact Centre where my conversation is filled with platitudes and a deferential language to the point of annoyance, as the issue I have is either not at all understood, or at least ignored and forgotten as the conversation drags on. After the call, I am contacted with a “How did we do today” survey, which I am left thinking is at best pointless, because my responses should set off alarm bells at all levels in the business, and despite leaving my phone number, never hear anything from the company – isn’t this bizarre.

Customer service – A top three business priority?

If you believe the research that is published, then customer satisfaction is generally deemed as a top-three strategic imperative for many businesses, and yet they frequently seem unable to translate this into a positive and fulfilling engagement when the customer requires help and assistance. How can this be? Do we believe that the board of directors are seeing business metrics that suggest otherwise, or is this simply rhetoric, as they are looking at revenue and profit alone?

Customers care, so why don’t you?

CEOs believe and Customer Care rules

What are the key metrics that CEO’s are focussed on for their business? Clearly delivering shareholder value is right up there for sure, as is customer relationships and customer care, so where is the disconnect?

From personal experience I know that when things go wrong, as they sometimes do, and the customer doesn’t quite get what they expect, then there is more often than is reasonable, a tussle over getting matters resolved. See if these resonate with you:

  1. The “manager or executive” doesn’t speak to customers!!
  2. I can’t do that!!
  3. That’s all I can do!!
  4. You’ll have to email us!!
  5. We don’t give out names!!

The first one is my personal favourite – how can this be acceptable. Without customers, the execs don’t have a job!!

I recently read on Inc.com that this was one of the Top 5 concerns for the CEO, and more than half of CEOs surveyed in a PWC survey felt that a lack of trust in their business was negatively impacting their business growth – no real surprise there!

So what is the issue? Are execs too far removed from the customer and out of touch with their mood? Are they simply paying lip-service to the customer care issue? I wonder if the support teams, who are genuinely at the coal-face, are not empowered in the way they need to be, and if their training is sufficient for the changing demands on their roles.

Whatever the issue, my sense is that we are on a downward trend of customer service excellence currently – with a few rare, but outstanding anomalies, like Amazon, who seem to get it right more times than they get it wrong.

Want to talk – drop us a line and we’ll be in touch