The lack of a holistic view across customer acquisition and retention could be what’s undermining the contact centre’s journey to its full potential. I stare blankly into the distance in a cold sweat as a sharp sense of dread washes over me. Panic starts to set in and I pace the room as the nervous energy of what lies ahead takes control of my body. I take a huge intake of breath, filling my lungs to capacity as if I’m about to hold my breath for a long time. The phone starts to ring and the journey begins…. Too often that’s what it’s like for a lot of customers when they call a contact centre; that dread of embarking on a something that will most likely be painful, brutal, and leave you gasping for breath when it ought to be easy and ‘effortless’. Well, maybe I’m just one of many customers who often wonder why these same frustrations exist in this day and age. But why is that? Why after all these years of effort, development and advances in technology do customers continue to face many of the same frustrations they did when contact centres were still in the primordial swamps of their evolution?
“Customers have the same frustrations they did 30 years ago. Technology was supposed to fix these problems, but it hasn’t. Customer service should be easier, but it isn’t.”
Customer expectations are not being metIf you look at generic industry surveys like those from Which, the customer on the street continues to be frustrated by, for example, having to repeat the same thing over and over again with different agents. Customers still have the same frustrations they did 30 years ago. Technology was supposed to fix these problems, but it hasn’t. Customer service should be easier, but it isn’t. The gap between the contact centre experience customers expect and the quality they actually receive was well illustrated in last year’s study by contact centre software provider NewVoiceMedia.
- 49% of customers said they were put off by having to repeat information to multiple agents, yet 32% of contact centres still require them to do that.
- 37% of customers say being passed from one agent to another would make them leave a business, yet 21% of contact centres can’t match customers who switch channels with their previous contact.
- 55% of consumers say not being able to speak to a real person is the top reason they dislike calling companies, yet 25% of contact centres cannot even route callers to a real person without using IVR.
A dated view of cost and contextI think it’s because the contact centre is still seen as a cost centre by many organisations. A cost challenge, not a value-add. A number of people to be paid for rather than a resource that can drive revenue and propel the enterprise forwards. Compare that to the marketing side of a business. The customer advocacy, loyalty, customer first strategies and initiatives…they all seem to get board-level buy-in and a huge level of investment. When the money is spent, it’s all spent on acquiring new customers. But what happens the moment those customers need to speak to us via the contact centre? What happens is that we fail them, and most likely we lose them because contact centres are too often not on an equal footing with the marketing department – financially and strategically. Marketing doesn’t have the end-to-end holistic approach that takes into account the cost of retaining the customer. ‘We’ve spent all the money getting them, now it’s over to you to figure out how to keep them.’ That disconnect between departments has still not been bridged today, and I’d argue that it’s not possible to live in that disconnected manner any longer. It’s an out of date view.
Measure what mattersEqually out of date is the mindset of what good service and good practice look like in a contact centre. It’s still a very reactive world and insights are not available when required. Agents are not given the right tools or right information at the time they most need them: in the moments that matter, with the customer on the line. In conclusion, ask yourself this. With customers having ever higher and higher expectations of what good service should be, why are we still measuring the same old things with the same tired old metrics as a way of telling if our contact centres are hitting those expectations? If contact centres are failing customers and organisations at the moment – and I believe many are – how are we going to fix that if we can’t move to a new mindset of being agile, being in the moment, and measuring what really counts? We can’t continue to make our customers dread calling us to fix their problems. If you don’t fix it you can be certain there’s a smaller more agile company right behind you that will.
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