These changes are triggering new challenges and imperatives for companies who value customer engagement and are eager to nurture and protect their relationships as one of their strongest competitive advantages. Companies, regardless of their size and market, must adopt a 360° approach for customer service, enabling customers to engage through any medium, on any device at the moment of need. Customer service will then be the primary instrument to align with the company’s global business objectives.
While voice is still the prevalent medium to reach out to agents (customer service reps), the advent of new communication methods such as email or live web chat has reshaped the landscape. As a consequence, many call centers have become multimedia. They are now accessible to customers from any device, not just fixed phones, allowing them to take advantage of new technologies and new media when situations require more than a call.
Over time, voice connections with agents have turned into interactions involving many people, from the customer rep to the pool of back-office experts, over different media – including social networks - and from a full range of devices. We call them customer conversations.
Today, these conversations have become the new foundation of efficient customer service, helping organizations raise satisfaction while controlling their e-reputation.
First call resolution has been always the Holy Grail for most customer service executives. The successful recipe requires enabling the right agent with the right information at the right moment. Workforce management systems definitely help staff the right people at the right time, while intelligent routing engines connect to the right skills and competencies. What about real-time access to the right information?
From easy-to-implement CTI-enabled agent screen pop-ups aimed at retrieving customer information at a glance, to sophisticated integrations with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) applications, the scope of capabilities is broad. Setting the course by dedicating the appropriate resources will depend on which key performance indicators a company is willing to monitor.
Integration with IT systems and business processes should not be optional for any customer-centric company. Unlike in other areas, it provides a visible and measurable return on investment (ROI) by keeping both agent and customer satisfaction at the highest levels; a condition to acquire or retain a strong and lasting competitive advantage.
Even though, from a customer perspective, customer service operations may seem to be in one large location, resources are often distributed across multiple locations that are connected with distributed systems and applications to enable integration with business processes. As a result, multi-site customer service operations are often supported by complex architectures connecting networks, devices and IT applications together to enable knowledge, the key element of any customer conversation.
In many cases, flexible architectures are required to accommodate changing business needs. Many businesses have seasonal peaks of activity, triggering the need for more resources to respond to additional customer inquiries. Cloud-compliant architectures address this by being scalable and elastic, enabling customer service to be virtualized and available on an as-needed basis across many locations to address changes in demand.
Open-standards technologies such as IP and SIP enable interoperability between systems, devices and people, giving organizations the flexibility their business operations require, while providing them with investment protection, regardless of any future moves.
Every customer interaction is a revenue opportunity for your business. Every call, email, or video chat has the potential to gain, retain or lose customers. Increase first call resolutions by connecting and integrating the right tools and systems to your customer service objectives. This will create an important competitive advantage for your business; this is the advantage of the Alcatel-Lucent customer service framework.
30% of social media users prefer using social care over phone customer service; NMIncite, 2012.
Attracting new customers costs companies 5 times more than keeping an existing customer; Lee Resources as quoted by Forbes, 2012.
96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those unhappy customers will simply leave and never come back; 1st Financial Training services, 2011.