Providing customers an exceptional experiences on budget
Madhu Sekhar, IGBC-AP
In the shifting customer care landscape where every interaction has the potential to cement or sever a customer relationship, the need to transition to a more holistic approach to customer engagement is critical. However, for a number of years, companies have struggled to calibrate their strategy for customer engagement through service channels. Most still rely on the traditional call center approach while others have chatbot interfaces in an attempt to go digital. This approach has led business executives to believe that they must make trade-offs between two opposing forces: improving the customer experience and managing costs.
This mindset contains some truth with traditional customer experience programs running through organizational silos, or cost-cutting programs focused narrowly on reducing headcount. In some cases, initiatives to create a well-designed experience lead to beautiful visions, but operations and IT teams cannot deliver the experience because they haven’t figured out the path through complex legacy infrastructure, policies, and processes. In other cases, dozens of IT initiatives take the upper hand, but it’s not clear how they will improve the customer experience.
Great customer experiences are seamless, transparent, convenient and relevant. Rapid advancement in digital technologies have provided companies in the field services management industry with the opportunity to connect and drive engagement with their customers in ways that could possibly have never been imagined before.
While great customer experience builds loyalty and advocacy, it could eventually lead to driving revenues and reducing operational costs. In fact, a recent research suggests, that maximizing the satisfaction of connected customers has the has the potential to lift field service revenues of the organizations by 15% while lowering the cost of service by 20%.
Streamlining the post visit process- Your company can automate the entire post-visit process with a list of services recorded in the customer portal. Automated invoicing, digital signatures and offering a digital payment options help completely eliminating the unnecessary paperwork which was previously mandatory. If they have a question or an issue, give them the ability to connect directly with agents through chat.
To close the feedback loop, reach out directly on their preferred channels or deploy an automated survey or questionnaire on everything from issue resolution to their experience with a mobile worker. This helps evolve staffing and training to better meet customer needs and address any issues head-on to maintain and build customer loyalty.
Attempting automation before understanding customer behavior - Companies often decide which activities to automate on the basis of how easy it is to do so- more often than not the chatbot is the first attempt at digitizing the customer service. The basic underlying assumption is that digital chatbots will handle the simpler interactions, while humans step in to deal with more complex queries. However, this model does not always consider the real value to customers of the contact or how automating it might diminish that value.
Consider the example, most subscription businesses make bills available online, regarding this as a simple way to address billing inquiries. But customers often go online not only to find out how much they are expected to pay, but also to understand how a charge is calculated, dispute a charge, request a payment extension, or learn how to reduce charges in the future. If they cannot get help with such inquiries in the digital channel, customers must connect with the call center for assistance—and will likely be frustrated because of the broken journey which has been met out to them.
A siloed view of the customer- Call centers or other channels of customer service often have a siloed view of customer service. This is often because customer data is often siloed in different systems which do not communicate with each other. This has the customer grappling with a broken or an inconsistent experience. To provide a more seamless customer experience initially and hopefully leading to more personalized offers, a more holistic view of the customer would be mandatory. Any new digital app should have the ability to integrate with existing systems and be able to pull the data before using in-built logic to make real-time recommendations.
Lack of integration between digital self-service and human support Companies should determine how digital and human channels can best support each other in helping customers resolve issues or complete transactions faster. Human-assisted channels, such as chat, social media, and community forums, can add more value if their purpose is to help a customer remain with digital self-serve.
By taking this integrated view, companies can prioritize the building of channel capabilities that will allow them to meet fluctuating demand most effectively. By ensuring the human element effectively complements the digital customer self-service, companies can ensure that the end-customer journey is as close to the envisioned ideal one.
The only way organizations could look to cater to the evolving needs of the customer experience is to digitize and automate internal operations which would translate into superior customer experiences for the customers. Additionally, by empowering them with self-service options using a platform like Steer, you would be enabling them with opportunities to interact seamlessly with your brand and have access to real time information on the status of the services they have requested for.
Madhu Sekhar, IGBC-AP
Madhu Sekhar is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of experience in FSM, specializing in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) industry.
Providing customer service VS. Creating a customer experience