Employees at our local pizza place refer to us as 'legends' because my family and I have literally been ordering from their restaurant my entire life. (That's right--even before I had teeth.) Yet, while our order has fluctuated over the years, our loyalty has never faltered, for it's the smallest gestures that always keep us craving more.Most recently, we received a call from someone at the restaurant during the middle of the day. We never order in the afternoon, so we weren't sure what to expect. Once we answered, we learned that they'd decided to reduce their hours of operation during the winter months and, because we're so loyal, they wanted us to know for future reference. Though it took no more than two minutes to call and share the news, this proactive outreach clearly indicated just how much they appreciate our continued business.
But what can bigger brands do to show just how much they value their customers? Anna Convery, CMO and EVP of Strategy for OpenSpan, outlines three critical ways to demonstrate customer (and employee!) love all year long:
1. Provide agents with a simplified interface that offers the ideal 360-degree view of the customer.
Because customers expect consistent service no matter what channel they use, it's important for contact center agents to have access to the right data at the point of interaction to provide efficient, accurate care.
"Having a single view of the customer dramatically reduces the number of steps an agent must take to get to the information requested by the customer," Convery notes. "Employees are better engaged, as they have the right information at the right time to deliver exceptional service. Rather than dealing with complex systems and cumbersome processes, they can be empowered to build better rapport with the customer, which translates into increased loyalty."
Convery adds that sometimes agents have to toggle between numerous applications to locate customer information, which can become extremely frustrating, thereby leading to elevated call handle times and decreased customer satisfaction. A 360-degree view of the customer, however, will help streamline customer service processes by integrating legacy systems together and aggregating all critical customer data into one consolidated view of the customer. By having a more holistic view of the customer, the agent also has the ability to offer contextually relevant promotions, which increases revenue per transaction and drives overall customer profitability.
2. Create seamless experiences for both employees and consumers.
Linear customer journeys are all but non-existent. The path from Point A to Point B now includes countless detours and touchpoints along the way. Therefore, to maintain satisfaction and loyalty, companies must foster seamless customer experiences that support one cohesive engagement instead of disjointed, individual interactions.
"Creating a seamless customer experience for the employee and consumer starts with a comprehensive understanding of the business," Convery says. "This means having the right intelligence--data that can be used to evaluate all facets of the customer journey--to carefully align people, processes, and technology. Getting access to this level of intelligence is often a challenge, but if your organization is able to understand how employees work, and how technologies and processes impact the experience, you have the ability to create smarter ways of working to simplify every part of the customer journey."
Once again, the 360-degree customer view supports such experiences, as employees can access omnichannel data with ease and clarity. Agents can quickly link previous activity with the current situation to provide appropriate customer service when and where they need to most, streamlining the experience for everyone involved.
3. Embrace contextual real-time guidance to support promotional and cross-sell opportunities.
When it comes to developing a sales-centric culture within the contact center environment, companies require substantial planning, analysis, and strategy. Training, of course, remains critical with regard to cross selling and promotional prowess because the skillsets of agents in a service-based environment are different from those required of sales agents. Companies must effectively train their associates to use the technologies, processes, and data to increase revenues.
Engagement also represents an important element of the sales-centric culture. "Are employees engaged? Do they have the right tools to effectively perform their jobs?" Convery asks. "Providing real-time intelligent guidance prompts helps deliver customer and product information to the agent during the point of interaction with the customer. Having more contextual customer intelligence enables employees to provide more accurate information and reduces the need to navigate and search across different systems to locate, process, and fulfill sales orders."
Much like their service counterparts, sales agents also need systems and guidelines in place that provide comprehensive insight into the customer's entire journey. Doing so will allow agents to present targeted offers at the moment of truth.
Ultimately, most companies cannot proactively engage consumers the way our local pizza place did. It's simply not feasible considering the size of their customer base. However, by equipping agents with the appropriate tools and knowledge, companies can transform employees into brand ambassadors who will, in turn, transform customers into brand advocates. Diligent care demonstrates customer love, which has the ability to power long-term loyalty for years (and maybe even decades) to come.