DELIVERING SERVICE DIFFERENTIATION THROUGH CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. Delivering service differentiation through customer experience

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1 Delivering service differentiation through customer experience CHASE RESPONSE MAY 2010

2 The marketplace Companies are facing an increasingly competitive landscape where the battle for market share and changing customer behaviour present constant challenges. One result of the current economic downturn is that everyone is focussed on keeping customers and meeting their needs. This is where the customer experience becomes vital to the bottom line. A bad experience not only results in lost customers but also results in hidden costs - in particular, the additional money required to market and sell to new consumers. Recent research from Forrester suggests that among companies with the best customer experiences, the number of of customers reluctant to move away was 8.2% higher than the industry average, while the number of customers likely to recommend that company was 8.4% higher than the average. 1 In today s world an unhappy customer can blast poor service in minutes by posting a review on Twitter or Facebook. This is just one way that the internet increases the difficulty of brand monitoring thereby making it more important than ever to deliver a good customer experience right from the start. The development of new strategies is a response to this changing landscape. The emphasis is on building loyal customer relationships where companies can anticipate their customers needs and use information to personalise relationships, providing customers with confidence and trust in their dealings with the organisation. Various technologies are used to support this activity but, as the landscape becomes more complex, customers are demanding more simplicity. For example, customers with multiple services from one supplier expect to be able to access all their information from one place with ease from anywhere at any time. This presents huge challenges to companies and their service provider partners but, at the same time, also creates the opportunity to use the good quality customer experience as a key differentiator by developing loyal customers and thereby delivering profitable growth. 1. Bruce Lemkin Customer Experience Boosts Revenue. Forrester June CHASE RESPONSE 2 MAY 2010

3 The challenges There are many practical challenges that companies and service providers need to overcome in order to provide a seamless service to the consumer in this environment. The first is to understand that CRM is a business philosophy rather than simply a technology. It must be able to manage the information required as well as provide the flexibility needed to support the multitude of promotions and offers in order to entice new customers and to keep hold of existing ones. This means having quality information and processes that allow for the building of long-term relationships. The ability to introduce new revenue streams can also be challenging as it requires knowledge and skills that can stretch the existing capabilities of the service provider, for example Interactive Video Response System (IVDRS) or Say-To-You Voice SMS Services. This is where the opportunity to create partnerships with suppliers who already have the technology, experience and people to launch new services can be invaluable. It can also help to facilitate time-to-market in the delivery of new revenue streams as well as provide the flexibility to react to competitive threats. The successful launch of a new service or promotion can also impact on the ability to provide a seamless customer experience, in particular where the contact centres are unable to meet excessive demand or the customer service support infrastructures are overwhelmed with the complexity of the customer support required. In this case, the impact of a single interaction can have exponential consequences on the overall brand and service offering. Today, global consumers have more power than ever, with access to huge amounts of information to compare product features, service capabilities and pricing, in any language. They are also much more technology savvy, utilising blogs, chat rooms and the web to find information as well as broadcast their own experiences of the brand. Expectations of service quality have also increased where consumers demand greater empathy and choice delivered through knowledgeable customer service support, able to resolve a very diverse range of issues through a single interaction. This places greater emphasis on culture and training to deliver a consistent and personalised customer experience both inbound and outbound across all channels. CHASE RESPONSE 3 MAY 2010

4 The solution Developing unified, multi-channel, processes and applications is the key to delivering the service differentiation where the customer experience is placed at the centre of the organisation with the culture, processes and brand. This can be achieved through six strategic areas:- Single view of the customer This is a consolidated customer relationship management (CRM) data system, maintaining a 360-degree view of the customer s history, interactions, purchases and behaviours. This insight allows customerfacing staff to know who the customer is and serves as a record of their previous interactions, purchases and preferences. Armed with this knowledge, the service agent s ability to better serve customers is vastly improved and so is the customer s experience. This technology, together with analytic tools, can provide valuable information on customer segmentation, sales performance and customer preferences at the touch of a button. By identifying key triggers, the customer service interactions can be tailored to meet the needs and levels of each group, for example, directly through automation, or via a call. In addition, the use of predictive analytics can help to identify new areas and sales opportunities as well as proactively making recommendations to improve the service for customers. Rezidor - the major International hotel chain and long standing client of Chase Response have benefited from the deployment of this kind of predictive analytics to model the future behaviour of new members to their loyalty program. Armed with this insight Rezidor is able to present their customers with a variety of highly personalised and appropriate offers and propositions. Integration and automation The integration and automation of parts of the service delivery will help to reduce the complexity of operating a multi-channel environment and, at the same time, provide the flexibility needed to meet peak demands. It will also differentiate the way the customer receives a service whether it is through automated services, online, a customer contact centre or all three channels. The ability to manage basic calls through automated services, such as interactive voice response (IVR) and advanced speech recognition (ASR), means that high value and complex calls can be routed to the appropriately skilled and trained person where there is an opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell new services. The integration of these technologies to the service delivery, together with skills-based routing and knowledge, can help to ensure that the consumer does not need to repeat any information and that the call can be resolved within a single interaction. , web chat and SMS can all be used to provide a more personalised and interactive service to the customer. For example, web chat is increasingly being used to better engage with customers as they receive real time assistance and there is also the opportunity to increase sales through chat. When Haven Holiday introduced web customer services it cut its handling time by 40%. The integration of all services is vital in order to be able to maintain a single view of the customer across all channels. CHASE RESPONSE 4 MAY 2010

5 Knowledge management One of the main strengths in any contact centre is the knowledge management database, containing a single repository of information required to support the staff interaction with the customer. The relevant information can be made available to staff depending on their profile and allows them to move seamlessly between service and sales modes. This helps to build the value of your customer base and supports the deliverer of outstanding customer experience by offering the tools necessary to complete the transaction. In a multi-channel environment, the knowledge base will suggest the most accurate and quickest, correct response, for example, automatically selecting the most relevant products and services and then providing the staff with a prompt on the best way to sell. There is also the ability to gather feedback and to update the information on the database, thereby delivering continuous improvement. Many systems now support real time updating so that the improvements in the knowledge can be quick and collaborative. and SMS management can be integrated into the knowledge management system where automated responses are delivered directly to the customer on all types of enquiries. This also enables a more personalised response, if that is required. A good example of this is the way that Lovefilm s knowledge management tool is currently being used to help revise the website s customer help pages. Customer self-support As customers continue to embrace the online world in ever increasing numbers, they are now much more familiar and comfortable in dealing with support issues through the internet. Through the knowledge database customers have access to a wide range of online support where they are able to search FAQ s, diagnose and solve their own enquires. Online customer self-support can also be extended to cover such areas as selecting services, viewing and paying bills, changing and updating personal details as well as merchandising and ecommerce. Good evidence of this is provided by Haven s strategy of diverting routine questions online and redeploying support staff to respond to holiday enquiries. This has resulted in increased sales levels of 5%. Different levels of escalation procedures, personalisation and customisation can be built into the online system, for example, the ability to integrate web chat into the telephony system for web call back or be able to speak directly to customer service staff at any time during the process. All customer interactions are integrated with the CRM system so that a complete single view of the customer is maintained as well as an analysis of the entire customer issues can be worked on and the knowledge database continually updated to improve the overall customer experience. Skills- training In today s highly automated, multi-channel environment, contact centres need to be able to deal with a very diverse range of interactions, to deliver exceptional experience for their highly valued customers. This means they have to be extremely knowledgeable across a broad range of products and services and possess a much greater range of sophisticated skills. This requires the ability to handle complex calls, provide consultative advice and manage complex interactions and relationships. CHASE RESPONSE 5 MAY 2010

6 Training and coaching plays a critical role in helping to develop the required culture and skills to help them to effectively identify and use customer information as part of a natural conversation with the customer to deliver exceptional customer experience. As a consequence, this offers multi-skilled staff greater personal development and career progression and the company retains more engaged staff. The ability to consolidate multiple sources of customer data into a single view of the customer will enable the building of a stronger relationship with the customer and, therefore, provide a better service. The knowledge database should also be designed to support staff by highlighting important information and messages at defined points during the interaction in order to enhance both the process and the overall customer experience. Investment in online social networking communities Arguably the most important dimension of all is how companies adapt their overall customer strategies to embrace and exploit the opportunities presented by the social networking sites which are already re-writing the rules on how sales and service is delivered and how customer satisfaction is kept high. The implications and the opportunities are huge. The tipping point has already been reached whereby more customer interactions are occurring outside of company-controlled channels. It has become clear that consumers today already view social media as channels and tools for customer service. Indeed a recent study conducted in the US by Cone 2 revealed that 43% of consumers think that companies should exploit social media to solve customer service issues. Companies are beginning to respond to this challenge by creating on-line environments that allow customers to interact with each other as well as company representatives to help solve their questions and problems. Technology companies like Sybase and Samsung, HP and LG have created on-line forums of their own in which consumer issues are answered by both the company s employees, fellow consumers and volunteer moderators. While new deployment options for social media will inevitably emerge over the coming years it is already clear that companies who place social media squarely in the centre of their overall CRM thinking will become better positioned to achieve a better differentiated market position and will be stronger, more efficient and better insulated against the vagaries of the economic climate. 2. September CHASE RESPONSE 6 MAY 2010

7 Summary In the challenging economic climate of today companies and their service providers are seeking to develop new business models to meet the challenges of today s convergent world. The focus on customer experience can be a powerful differentiator by developing loyal customers and delivering on profitable growth. Developing a unified, multi-channel environment with a single view of the customer is the key to identifying and delivering an interactive, differentiated customer service. What s more building a fully integrated support system will help to both increase the flexibility of the contact centre as well as reduce the complexity. This use of technology, together with comprehensive staff training and a customer strategy that lies at the heart of the business culture, will deliver a consistent customised and personalised customer experience across all channels. Happy customers are the best asset a business can have. CHASE RESPONSE 7 MAY 2010

8 About Chase Response Chase Response is the Contact Centre Division of the Collinson Group an international marketing services group with an annual world-wide turnover of over 130m. The Collinson Group has been in business for in excess of 20 years. Chase Response operates a global network of customer contact centres. We combine our experience, knowledge, cutting edge technology and the latest training techniques to offer an unrivalled package of inbound and outbound contact centre services. Chase Response is head quartered in London and operates customer management facilities on behalf of clients such as Priority Travel Group, Columbus Insurance, Intercontinental Hotels, TAP and Cathay Pacific. Our principle hubs are located in Croydon, Cape Town, Mumbai, Dubai and Hong Kong. To learn more about Chase Response visit: To learn more about the Collinson Group visit: CHASE RESPONSE 8 MAY 2010

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