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People are a demanding bunch: how to service the customer that wants everything

By Contributor
Fri 30 Jul 2021

Article by Avaya director of solution architecture and design, Anthony Brown.

The pace, scale and complexity of innovation the world has witnessed over the past decade has drastically altered every aspect of people's lives, from how to travel and socialise to how to work and consume.

From this ‘always on’ experience economy has emerged what Gartner calls the ‘everything customer’; an individual who expects their diverse and often contradictory needs to be met by every organisation with which they engage.

The everything customer might sound like an abstract concept, but brush away the buzzword veneer and it becomes apparent that we’re all everything customers.

Sometimes people want to shop online, but other times want the comfort of an in-store experience. Often, customers want personalised service, but other times they berate organisations for disrespecting privacy.

Everyone wants equal treatment, but they also want to be served uniquely. People expect consistent service, but also enjoy being pleasantly surprised by the unexpected.

We’re a demanding bunch.

It’s understandable many Australian companies have been left scratching their heads at how to service this everything customer.

The key is to focus on employees, with the trickle-down effect being better results for customers.

Recent research from Gallup found that satisfied employees are three times as likely to solve customer issues and problems than employees that are less engaged or motivated.

Meanwhile, a recent Gartner study found that organisations that invest in the employee experience are more than four times more profitable on a per-employee basis than organisations that do not make these allocations.

So, just how do organisations begin this process? Here are five best practices some organisations have used to support the people at the front line of delivering their services and, in doing so, have created better experiences for their customers.

Change the channel

For years, the customer service arena has been fixated on channels, with organisations deploying different websites, social media channels, voice channels and more to meet the evolving and diverse needs of customers.

Employees, and how they interact with customers, is often left by the wayside. By including the employee experience as part of the customer journey, organisations can ensure that interactions between both parties and across touchpoints are effortless, which leads to improved productivity and supported wellbeing.

The human element

Significant investments have been made into technology that eases workloads for employees, such as virtual assistants and automation.

While valuable, human interaction remains the most important element of customer service, and leaders must create technology environments that are human-centric and proactively bring relevant information to employees in a unified workspace.

In the context of a contact centre, the voice-recognition capabilities of AI can instantly pull up a customer’s history, including who they are, what they need and their individual preferences, which allows the agent to address the enquiry straight away, saving time and adding a layer of personalisation.

Everyone needs a digital co-worker

While the human side is undeniably important, employees can benefit greatly from having a digital co-worker.

When the time traditionally spent collating, analysing and interpreting tonnes of data is allocated to a virtual assistant, workers have much more time to focus on the interpersonal elements of customer interactions.

Virtual assistants can determine the times of day employees are less productive, and recommend they switch from doing real-time tasks to emails or training sessions, and can also transcribe interactions in real-time.

One organisation has employed virtual assistants so successfully that its employees’ post-contact work has been reduced by 65%.

No more “that’s not my job!”

Customer centricity should be infused across every level of an organisation, blurring the lines between sales, marketing and customer service teams. This ensures everyone is ready to pool their skills together to solve enquiries.

One telco found that it was not reaching the customer satisfaction levels it was after, due to queries being funnelled into the back of the organisation and forgotten.

The company ended up transporting the routing engine from the contact centre into the back office, which added a layer of prioritisation, allocation and accountability to the tickets that were sent to the back. The customer satisfaction levels skyrocketed.

Make working from anywhere a permanent fixture

The last year has shown us that employees can work from home productively, provided they have access to support, cloud-based technology and engagement. What’s more, they enjoy it.

A recent study from Gartner found that 70% of service employees want to continue working from home into the future, and another claimed that when teams worked from home, their productivity increased by 36%.

Remote work has also opened the opportunity for employees to work shorter shifts across the day rather than in one concentrated block. This has the flow-on benefit of increased access to services for customers, which caters to their expanded expectations.

In an always-on, digital economy, Australian employers are battling to meet the diverse and expansive needs of the everything customer, but coming out on top means gearing investments into bolstering the day-to-day experiences of their workers.

As organisations enter the new financial year down under, it’s imperative the investments made with a short-term view in fiscal 2021 are converted into strategies that bring their staff the daily affordances of cloud-based technologies, including automation, centralised communication touchpoints and features that enable flexible work from anywhere.

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