NTT DATA. Customer service PLUS: What does the future hold in store for contact centres?

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1 Customer service PLUS: What does the future hold in store for contact centres?

2 Service: The new marketing? Customer satisfaction as a distinguishing feature Today s contact centres are constantly evolving when it comes to technology, processes and KPIs. This trend is clearly set to continue as they seek to resolve customer queries in a satisfactory and effective manner, thereby improving each individual customer s experience. Since customer experience and social interaction have a strong influence on individual market and consumer behaviour, the parameter of customer satisfaction plays a very important role in the context of contact centres. The following observations support the theory that modern customer behaviour challenges companies to develop suitable measures in order to guarantee customer satisfaction, generate the optimum customer experience and, at the same time, obtain tangible added value for customer care organisations. Based on the use of social media and customer care apps, as well as the targeted integration of asynchronous media, the following observations point out the opportunities, the potential for success and ways of being able to the determine return of investment (ROI) for the various measures. It is now common knowledge, as confirmed by numerous studies, that companies in an increasingly competitive market consider it one of their main objectives to gain the long-term loyalty of profitable customers by keeping them happy. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to stand out with their customers through the products, services and prices they offer in the face of global competition. The reason for this could be that many core products have become interchangeable, prices can be adjusted very quickly and barriers to change have diminished from the customer s point of view. The path to developing and providing a customer experience that is best in class starts with an assessment of current consumer and market trends that describe the consumer and service behaviour of different target groups. In order to tap into this potential and cater to customers individual service preferences, companies are boosting investment in improved processes and technologies that support them in their efforts here. The thinking behind this is to transform the cost centre contact centre into a strategic tool to ensure customer satisfaction and to maintain this in the long run. In an effort to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and cater to customers and their needs, it is crucial to provide the customer with the flexibility to make their own decisions and always be on hand ready to support them, and not just on the telephone. As well as the traditional channel of communication the telephone, Web, mobile and social apps have now established themselves as powerful selfservice tools and redefined the customer journey. The concept of the customer journey is a new way of looking at the purchasing process: Customer journey refers to the path that a (potential) customer takes via several different points of contact with a product, brand or company (touchpoints) until they make the desired target action. A customer journey can last anywhere between several hours to several days. Common target actions include purchases, orders or enquiries (online marketing practice). The ever-increasing number of customer contact channels for service interactions means that this concept, which originated in the online marketing sector, is also starting to be used in the customer care domain. Customer service as a strategic tool Therefore we conclude: The more competitors there are in the market and the smaller the company s monopoly on its core services, the greater the importance of customer service. Customer service is a valuable distinguishing feature, which means the relationship with customers and maintaining their loyalty are no longer purely marketing matters. The role of the service organisation has increased significantly, so that the fields of marketing and customer services are no longer considered separate disciplines they are becoming much more intertwined. Nowadays, a company s success depends on the opinions and experiences of the customers. The fact that customer service is a vital tool for ensuring customer satisfaction There needs to be greater focus on the customer s experience from the start through to the end of their contact with the company. Only taking individual touchpoints into consideration fails to produce a full picture of the situation. and loyalty has been confirmed in a number of studies. On average, more than 40 per cent of customers questioned claimed that customer service has a major influence on their satisfaction and almost 40 per cent of customers asserted that they have switched suppliers as a result of poor service (source: Genesys, 2013). Nowadays, the multi-channel approach is but one of many factors in purchase decisions: For example, lots of Internet users search for product information and/ or the solution to technical problems online before contacting customer support. However, once initial contact is made on the Internet, there is no guarantee that the entire purchase or support process will be completed online. Further customer support sessions, purchase decisions and/or contracts are most likely to follow at other points, meaning that there are very few cases today in which the entire process is completed either entirely online or offline. As well as the purchasing and information seeking behaviour of a new generation, commonly referred to as digital natives, the following aspects also go a long way towards making sure that more channels are being used in the consumers decision-making processes: n Greater trust in online channels and online reviews, n continuous increase in the number of smart devices such as smartphones and tablets, n ubiquitous access to information and services (evernet). Opportunities offered by a multi-channel strategy Go! 2 3

3 Challenges of a multi-channel strategy Careful! If companies are aware of this trend and the opportunities this hold, why are so many of them now failing to tap this potential? The main reason is the complexity of the interaction process, since the input and output channels differ from one another. If interactions switch between channels, the context is often lost and the customer has to repeat information that he or she has already provided. This leads to redundancies and frustration on the part of the customer. This not only comes across as unprofessional but also means that the customer is less likely to make a purchase. As a result, agents are forced to carry out time-consuming consultations and average handling times increase. Surveys show that more than 50 per cent of today s customers are dissatisfied when they transfer from one channel to another (source: Genesys, 2013). In the light of an increasing number of alternative contact channels being set up, it is essential that input channels are seamlessly integrated with one another and an end-to-end contact history is in place from initial contact right through to closing of the case. If the interaction history is retained and the willingness of the customer to make a purchase increases, since they do not have to repeat information more than one time, the handling processing time goes down. As a result, the customer is satisfied as is the agent. If this significant challenge is addressed in the multi-channel environment, what are the next steps necessary for supporting the customer on their journey across several channels and offering them the best possible service? The sales process from a customer point of view and from an interaction and multi-channel management point of view. 4 5

4 The effective use of social media in customer service When it comes to acquiring new customers, companies have generally come to understand just how important it is that they are active in social networks. This opinion is not one shared by service departments. As far as customer service departments are concerned, social media is yet another channel for customer queries alongside more traditional ones such as telephone, and sales calls. And what s more, it is one that is difficult to manage. As a rule, the more channels of access that are opened up in the service field, the more complex and expensive the technology and structures in the service and contact centres become. This new type of customer relationship represents an added layer of complexity. By having a digital presence, companies not only open new channels of communication for contacting certain target groups, but they are also able to get closer to their customers. However, this closeness to customers holds no value in and of itself; the key factor here is managing the dialogue in a sensitive manner. The fact that the Internet has grown to establish itself as a space to communicate freely as well as the democratisation of the Internet not only increase the potential to contact customers, but also gives them the opportunity to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The formal boundaries of the service landscape are becoming blurred and an increasing number of customers have come to expect brands and companies to serve them via digital channels such as Twitter and Facebook. They expect brands to react quickly and decisively. By not responding or taking too long to respond, brands damage their reputation. Both positive and negative customer experiences have a significant influence on what products and services consumers buy from certain companies, how many they buy and how long they will continue buying them. Companies have to be in The customer lifetime value shows the net present value of the customer as an investment asset. In order to calculate CLV, it is necessary to estimate and add up all future incomes from and expenses related to a particular customer. Muhr, 2003 a position to use social media in an effective manner in order to generate as many positive customer experiences as possible and turn the negatives into positives. If this condition has been met, companies can take advantage what social media has to offer and cater to their customers needs in a transparent manner and, in the best case scenario, even turn their harshest critics into their biggest advocates for their brand. Nowadays, observing customers and their opinions on social networks is a key first step. This includes monitoring what is being said about the company, which opinions are circulating about the products and how customers rate service. Monitoring social media is an almost universally established practice in today s world of marketing. If companies want to develop a CRM strategy in social networks, then the customer service department has to play a role in these monitoring activities. Customer service managers should therefore arrange for the relevant studies to be conducted or seek to add questions about service to ones being carried out by their colleagues in marketing. Democratising the Internet How good is the quality of my service? Members of social network sites are very open about sharing their experiences with one another. Customer ratings on service make it possible to identify where potential for improvement exists. 6 7

5 Where and how is content made available? When seeking to build up social media skills in this department, it is necessary to compile customer experiences. Many CRM managers find difficult at first to deal with the criticism they read on social media platforms. No service is good service, but... Just because no one complains doesn t mean all parachutes are perfect! Benny Hill Comments from users who are often from a younger demographic are either extremely positive or negative, are often direct, harsh and uncompromising in the way that they are expressed and are highly volatile. It is precisely the transparency with which and the public nature of how opinions are expressed that gives social media a key advantage, not only in terms to the possibility to respond to existing issues but also the chance to actively cater to customers, handle their requests and work to resolve any grievances they may have. Companies that want to do more than just analyse service ratings and service reputation have to find answers to a number of questions. These include, among others, how can social media be effectively integrated into the company s internal service strategy, what user experience do you seek to achieve through this media and which strategy to pursue in doing so. relatively low contact rate on social media platforms. However, when geared towards the key target group of young account holders, service offers on social media could be established as a crucial channel and a feature that enables them to stand out from the competition. In professional contact centres, there are clear guidelines and talking points for communicating with customers. These inflexible formulas will be challenged in the realm of social media. To create a credible presence as a customer support provider in this domain, first they have to develop their own personal style. The informal style for responding to questions that is required in social networks, the extremely short response times and the openness of this form of communication the fact that anybody can read the threads mean that customer service employees are faced with additional requirements. The underlying processes are therefore key to any effective social media campaign. Managers play a central role in this respect. While managing the social media communication channel had often been the responsibility of PR and/or marketing departments to date, it is now necessary to break down the clear boundaries established for the customer service department and establish well-connected cross-departmental functions. In-house specialists for managing social media platforms? When it comes to analysing social media communications regarding their business, companies also have to identify the relevant forums, blogs and communities. Once established and relevant social media platforms are in place, these can be used for service communication. Many companies already have a Facebook page focused on marketing, which can be complemented by pages devoted to service. The other option of devising an in-house initiative and platform is considerably more difficult. A platform such as the Swisscom Customer Care Community is an impressive example that demonstrates how dynamic this type of platform can be. Even if this communications channel represents a relatively portion of the total number of customer contacts, this project shows potential for supporting certain target groups such as Best Ager or Silver Surfer. Reputation is as good as gold in social media Analyzing support threads when implementing social media strategies makes it possible to estimate targeted savings and compare these figures to actual savings at a later date. The response rate from the threads allows a company to determine how many support calls were avoided as a result of questions being answered in the forum. By quantifying how many threads were answered by other users instead of support employees, it is possible to generate savings through direct deflection. There is enormous untapped potential to improve efficiency, particularly for companies that use special incentive programs to reward active followers for providing help to other users. These incentives do not usually take monetary form; in this community, reputation is much more valuable. Companies can get a basic idea of how much they stand to save from indirectly avoiding support calls by examining the number of social media hits in which no new threads were opened. Wherever users are registered on platforms, it is even possible to determine whether the customer actually found the answer they were looking for on the forum or if they had to call for support. In analyses such as these, it is advisable to take on external specialists and focus on a specific target group. This would only make it possible for a bank to achieve a A consistently implemented multi-channel strategy provides extensive information about customers: Social media is not only an attractive channel for the marketing and distribution process, but also when it comes to customer satisfaction surveys and service communication. 8 9

6 Solve more problems using a self-care app. The hype surrounding mobile applications has already led to the development of several useful apps. App development should be promoted in areas where they bring about the most benefits it goes without saying that customer service is one of those areas. Mobile applications not only open another channel for connecting with customers and giving them access to services. They also have the potential to lower the volume of incoming calls and reduce waiting times. A recent study by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) revealed that, in 2012, there were more than 6.8 billion mobile phone users worldwide. That is an enormous figure, especially considering that the population of the world is approximately seven billion and rising. This is why recommends that companies take advantage of the benefits and opportunities provided by mobile end devices and establish this as a customer contact channel. Customer service for smart device users requires a unique selling proposition in order to generate the best possible results: It should be seen as more than just another input channel for interactions, with the focus on simplicity, personalisation and interactivity: n Service escalation with just one touch using a (smartphone) app, n offer cross-channel interaction histories, comprising from all conversations n flexible integration of experts and mobile service employees n individual service experience based on personal customer preferences. Working together with the user experience designers from People Interactive, NTT DATA has developed a self-service customer service app, which provides customers with a completely new experience when contacting customer service. Development efforts focused on the functionalities that are directly connected to solving customer problems. Here is list of benefits at a glance: FUNCTIONALITY CTI, CRM, social web integration Push/pull functions Information on waiting times Callback planning Self-care Contact history Contact prevention BENEFIT Improved customer satisfaction Few calls from customer seeking support Transfer to self-care channels Fewer non value-adding contacts Better use of staff resources No complicated IVR menus Lower operational costs 10 11

7 If a mobile strategy is closely linked with a company s internal customer service strategy and the contact centre infrastructure, customer calls to the contact centre are a continuation of the conversation. The ecare function lets the customer open a case in the CRM system by themselves: Visual design of the self-care app Visual design of the self-care app 12 13

8 Centralized integration of all media In the past, it was only necessary to operate a call centre. Almost all contact was made by phone, with the occasional letter or fax being processed in the back office. This classic call centre is slowly disappearing not least because of the increasing heterogeneity of contact channels. The boundaries between front and back office are becoming blurred. Asynchronous media such as documents, letters, fax or s make up a significant part of interactions that take place today. However, the technology of yesterday often still rules in the world of today. s are printed and distributed. Letters are carried from one processing step to the next and nobody knows the current location of a document or which stage of processing it is at. Compliance with service level agreements is purely a matter of luck. But it is not only the technology that is lagging behind. The rules in place no longer fit the modern world of telephone and documents. Last but not least, resource planning is also faced with new challenges. If interactions have to be handled and allocated based on priority, this is a job for business process routing. The decisive factor here is to determine which process and/or task is more important than the others. Nowadays, this knowledge is firmly anchored in employees heads. Team leaders decide which tasks are assigned first and employees select which ones they want from their inboxes based on what they feel is most important. While this is done with the noblest of intentions, the process is neither transparent nor reproducible. Identify Categorise Prioritise If business process routing is rolled out, knowing the priority of a task and the process used to define this is extremely important: 1. Customer aspect: In principle, gold-level customers should possibly be dealt with faster than silver-level customers. 2. Medium aspect: Generally, a customer expects a reply to an to come a lot faster than a reply to a letter. 3. Business transaction aspect: Making changes to bank account details is possibly more important than ordering information material. In this case, it is important to note that a priority is not final; it is subject to change over time. If this were not the case, an interaction assigned a lower priority would not be processed until there were no other tasks with a higher priority status. The priority level of an interaction would therefore be upgraded step by step as the time at which it has to be processed grows closer

9 Other perspectives might also be considered for example, if a customer s address changes right before an invoice is to be sent that, at another point in time, would have been assigned a significantly lower priority. Business process routing would only make sense in this respect if individual stockpiling is replaced by a central administration system. Another requirement is that a push system be in place. In other words, the agent is unable to select tasks for themselves, but is allocated the highest priority interaction at the time by the system. This is the only way to guarantee that the agents do not simply make a mockery of the categorisation and prioritisation process through manual selection. Identifying, prioritising and allocating interactions Requirements for planning In this case, the difference between media blending and media mix has to be taken into account. In the case of media blending, interactions fold into each other for example, a phone call might be followed by a fax, followed by another phone call. Experience has shown that media blending requires a lot more from the agents, since they are have to concentrate on more than just one medium. A more effective concept is the media mix, in which only contacts from one specific medium are processed within a defined time period telephone (and chat due to the synchronisation) or documents ( s or faxes). These individual blocks can be rearranged as necessary, although each block should last at least one hour. The goal of resource planning is to make sufficient resources available so that tasks can be completed within the service level targets. Since business process routing performs the tasks of prioritisation and distribution logic, this no longer has to be shown on the duty roster. It is sufficient to simply include the information that an employee is to process documents by a particular time but not what form the task should take. The individual components of business process management 16 17

10 And what are the benefits of this approach? That is all well and good, but let s talk numbers! For a lot of companies, the question that arises at this point is about return on investment: Is it worth making these investments? Are the results measurable? And what do I gain from them? The increase in data traffic as a result of multi-channel customer interaction provides employees from the customer service department with additional information. Putting this customer information (CRM datasets, online hits and clicks, call centre voice recordings, past and recent purchases etc.) to intelligent use can help companies to forecast customers sales and service requirements and meet them in targeted manner: Return on investment: Proactive engagement n Personalised sales: There is significant potential to increase turnover by targeting particular customers. This could be with offers for selected products or through marketing campaigns. While it is true that customers react sensitively to nonrelevant offers, a study has shown that they appreciate tailored advice relating to more suitable products: According to a study carried out by Genesys in 2013, 80 per cent of customers value active communication with companies where they are already customers and 75 per cent even stated that they welcome upto-date and relevant cross-selling offers. n Personalised service: Rather than simply focusing on optimising holding queues and answering calls as fast as possible, the most successful companies today are also concentrating on the subject of customer satisfaction. Business results, such as the successful resolution of customer enquiries first contact resolution and the net promoter score (would customers recommend the company/product to their friends and family?), can be achieved with highquality, personalised service by increasing first contact resolution rates, reducing costly repeat contacts and acquiring new customers. Implementing business process routing leads to dramatic changes in business operations. The question here is whether business process routing is worth the effort. At we say: Yes! Business process routing ensures that customers can take advantage of all access channels and always receive a consistent service experience, thus making it possible to improve KPIs such as first contact resolution. This means that the customer receives an answer within the service targets. Employees no longer have to worry about overflowing inboxes. Tasks are allocated fairly and equitably. Experience from past projects shows that companies that have implemented business process routing can achieve an increase in efficiency ranging between 20 and 30 per cent and speed up processing times by more than 30 per cent. Furthermore, there is a clear and measurable improvement in SLA compliance. Return on investment: Transparency and measurability of customer satisfaction 18 19

11 This puts all internal resources to optimal use, with less time being required for manual inspection and document distribution. Employee workloads can be managed efficiently so that there is no more costly idle time. What s more, task distribution follows clear, reproducible rules so that the order in which the documents are processed no longer depends on the level of expertise of by the agents involved and the quality of performance they deliver on that particular day. Many of today s companies assume that the demand for services, and therefore the costs and investments incurred by customer service, increase in proportion to the number of products and services sold. If this additional demand cannot be covered by recruiting new employees, companies are inclined to urge employees to work faster, for example, by reducing conversation times or by taking more time to respond to s and written correspondences. According to Price and Jaffe, these measures actually lead to employees burning out faster, so that employee turnover increases, more mistakes are made and customer satisfaction levels drop. That is why they recommend focussing on preventing unnecessary contacts and not on measures to improve efficiency. As well as the dumb contacts resulting from process errors, delays or defective products and simple requests regarding account balances, they also result in...repeat contacts, caused by the service operations mishandling the first time... and cause an increase in the volume of contacts. Several different studies have shown that these repeat contracts are responsible for as much as 30 per cent of the customer care centres operating expenses. Customer satisfaction is not a guarantee of customer loyalty but a central requirement when it comes to achieving it. That is why companies are faced with the question of whether customer service has a significant impact on customer satisfaction, how multiple customer contacts regarding one and the same issue affects the business relationship with the customer going forward and which customer service KPIs provide insight into customer satisfaction. There is a causal relationship between customer satisfaction and first contact resolution (FCR). As such, customer satisfaction rises in line with how often their issue can be resolved the first time they contact customer service. The fact that customer service is an important tool to achieve customer satisfaction and hence customer loyalty, as confirmed in a number of studies. The service quality of the customer care centre plays an important role in meeting customer expectations. This means that first contact resolution with a majority of customers is a core objective that First contact resolution (FCR) refers to the percentage of contacts in which the customer inquiry is resolved during his or her first contact with the customer care centre. must be achieved in order to ensure customers are satisfied with the service they receive. There have been no relevant studies that provide empirical evidence of the influence of first contact resolution on operating costs. For the sake of completeness, here are the findings from a case study by Kjellerup (2003) and an article by Monger (2004). Following an investigation into four large call centres over a period of nine months, Kjellerup came to the conclusion that more than 30 per cent of operating costs occur due to a lack of first contact resolution. Typical KPIs that are generated from these systems include service level, availability rates, blocked calls, termination rates, average response times, forwarding rates, average processing times and average post-processing times. The literature generally acknowledges that most of the key performance figures gathered in the customer care centres primarily relate to contact with the centre and employee workload. This is how the service level and availability rate are improved at most centres and calls per hour is the KPI that is traditionally preferred and almost universally used. Schmidt attribute the fact that these key performance indicators have come to dominate the assessment of performance and the management of customer care centres in commercial practice to the automatic collection and ready provision through IT systems and the associated opinion regarding the reliability and objectivity of the KPIs (2007). Feinberg et al. believe that the importance assigned to these KPIs has grown over time because they are easy to measure and not because of customers perception of quality. We make important what we can measure. The technological developments in the call centre industry may be the driver of what we think is important for call centres. The ease of measurement leading to automatic reporting leads to the apparent belief that these things that are measured are the important and motivating things. Call centres have measured these things for so long that everyone believes that they are measured because they are important when in fact, they are only measured because it was an automatic measurement. (2000). Price and Jaffe are equally critical, since they find fault with the fact that, in most service organisations, the only factor that is measured is how quickly something is handled and not how well it was handled or how often and why it has to be dealt with at all. Companies that group different means of contact such as telephone, fax, post and in the contact centre and cultivate a consistent customer opinion about them, cannot avoid the pressing question when it comes to efficiency: Can social media and mobile engagement reduce service requests from other channels? If one-to-one communication is transferred from the telephone to a chat, then little has been gained. Benefits are only derived where one-to-one communication becomes one-to-many communication. A business case can be made if a technical problem can be solved with a forum post and the number of calls drops as a result of corresponding tips on social media platforms and mobile applications. The duration of service calls can also be reduced if the customer service employees can also provide links to threads on social media platforms known to the user, in which a problem and its solution can be described in detail. If customers come together as a community, they can start a thread and engage in a constructive dialog. It is possible to reduce by having users help each other. Return on investment: Reduced volume of calls 20 21

12 Let s get it started! In recent years, customer service has been established as a means for companies to set themselves apart from their competitors. The integration of other contact channels such as social media and mobile self-service applications, as well as the central management and distribution of asynchronous media, provide contact centres with opportunities for optimisation directly as a result of lower costs and indirectly due to their measurability and the increase in customer satisfaction they generate. The observations mentioned have shown that the following measures contribute to improving the customer experience and developing a customer-oriented organisation: Authors n The intelligent use of customer data facilitates the creation of a tailormade sales and service experience for the customers. n The effective use of social media not only contributes to increased brand recognition, but can also reduce the volume of calls if done properly. n Integrating customers into the process through the use of mobile self-service solutions increases the likelihood of individual customer issues being resolved. n The intelligent routing of asynchronous media increases the efficiency of case processing as well as the measurability and transparency of the underlying business processes. Thomas Stöcker Vice President Customer Management Kronstadter Str Munich, Germany Francois Heitz Principal Consultant Customer Management Europa-Strasse Zurich, Switzerland Schirin Chahvand Business Consultant Customer Management Erna-Scheffler-Straße Cologne, Germany 22 23

13 About Zamdorfer Strasse Munich Germany Tel.: (+49-89) global/en/index.html is a leading IT services provider and global innovation partner headquartered in Tokyo, with business operations in over 40 countries. Our emphasis is on long-term commitment, combining global reach with local intimacy to provide premier professional services varying from consulting and systems development to outsourcing. Copyright 2014 Deutschland GmbH

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