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1 do the right thing White paper Findings of independent research commissioned by numero Six ways to improve the customer s experience 6 numero 2011 From the numero white paper series on achieving world-class customer service

2 Contents Exploring Customer Experience Management 3 Creating Multichannel Customer Service 4 Six Steps To Improve Customer Interaction-Handling 4 Route calls to the right agent 4 Improve Web-based self-service 5 Increase support at the desktop for all who handle interactions 5 Refine your multichannel customer service strategy 5 Improve responses to 5 Utilise social media as a customer support channel 6 New Ways To Measure Success 6 Business Benefits of Improved Interaction-Handling 7 About Ventana Research 8 2

3 Exploring customer experience management In today s fast-paced, highly competitive markets, attracting new customers while retaining existing ones requires companies to try new approaches. It has become clear that in the Web-enabled world, customers expect a positive experience and outcome every time they contact a company. The discipline of customer experience management (CEM) helps companies respond to this challenge by allowing them to change the way they handle customer interactions as they happen. numero commissioned an independent research organisation to carry out benchmark research on CEM to evaluate the level of maturity of organisations in their application and use of their people, processes, information and technology for handling customer interactions. They evaluated maturity using a four-level categorisation from the least mature Tactical companies through Advanced and Strategic, to the most mature Innovative organisations. The research found that the major difference in the CEM realm between immature Tactical and mature Innovative companies was in their use of technologies to improve the handling of interactions. However, the results also show a gap in the understanding of what CEM is and what the objective should be for any CEM initiative. Their responses placed more than half (56 percent) of the research participants at the second-highest Strategic maturity level, in part because they understand that CEM is about changing the processes for handling interactions at different touch points. The most mature Innovative companies though, which at 27 percent numbered fewer than half as many, recognise that in addition CEM is a strategy to influence customer behaviour at each touch point so that the customer remains more loyal and spends more with the company. This matters because those companies that manage the customer experience more effectively (and are able to improve it) will compete more successfully and perform better. The foundation for CEM is a consistent source of customer data. It is only when there is a single consistent enterprise-wide source of customer data that is used to support every interaction that true management of the customer experience becomes possible. Without this, customers will get different information depending on who they speak to or which automated self-service channel they use. Managing the customer experience more effectively helps companies compete more successfully and perform better. But information alone is not sufficient to enable CEM. An organisation must also create and reinforce a customer-centric culture. Accomplishing this typically requires executive support, and so successful CEM initiatives start at the top. To achieve this focus, nearly 40 percent of the organisations participating in our research have created an executive position with a title such as customer advocacy manager, customer experience manager or customer relationship manager. 3

4 Creating multichannel customer service Any customer service initiative needs to recognise that consumers are changing the way they communicate. Pushed by time constraints and pulled by the convenience of new technology options, they increasingly use , smartphones, the Web, instant messaging (IM), SMS messaging and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Companies therefore need to offer these channels to customers or risk losing them to companies that do. Our benchmark research shows that most companies have invested in customer capability (92 percent) and Web sites (81 percent), but it also shows that many have not used these channels to their full potential. Fewer, more innovative companies have invested in IM (21 percent), text messaging (18 percent) and social media, but the research suggests that these will be the fastest-growing areas in the years ahead. The challenge for companies is to implement customer access through these channels in a coordinated way, to create a customer-focused multi-channel service operation that will deliver a consistent and consistently positive customer experience whichever channel or mix of channels is used. Although many companies have implemented some of these new channels, they often have made each of them the responsibility of a different group. Consequently, the customer gets different information and a somewhat different experience in each channel. Our research shows two common results of this disconnect: 1 2 More than half (59 percent) of participants said that customers often end up talking to an agent after unsuccessfully trying to use a self-service interactive voice response (IVR) system. A similarly high number of customers also end up talking to an agent after trying Web-based self-service, either because their transaction fails or because they find the process too difficult to follow. Companies also need analytics to track the patterns of use of these channels, identify which interactions were successful or not, and determine what interaction-handling and enterprise-wide processes need to be corrected. Companies need to offer new channels to customers or risk losing them to companies that do. 4

5 Six steps to improve customer interaction-handling Focusing more on the customer and expanding the channels of consistent, positive interactions form the foundation of customer experience management. Based on the findings of the CEM research, we offer six concrete steps that should lead your organisation towards more satisfied customers and improved business outcomes. Route calls to the right agent 1 Our research shows that mature companies recognise the effects agents have on the customer s experience; these participants cited agents attitudes and abilities to understand customer issues as the two factors most likely to influence the customer experience. They therefore deploy a call-routing application that is linked to both customer and agent skills databases so that calls are directed to the agent, or other employee, best equipped to handle the call as effectively as possible. Improve Web-based self-service 2 Mature companies pay more attention to their Web sites than others do. Unlike the majority of companies which focus on basics such as look and feel and navigation of their sites, they work to make their sites more intuitive to use. They replace old-style FAQs and search Agents attitudes and abilities to understand customer issues are the two factors most facilities with scripts based on natural language that more closely resemble real conversations a customer would have with an agent. They ensure that questions and answers are personalised depending on the profile of the customer and the direction the script takes. They do this through systems that automatically search across different data sources to retrieve customer data and present options based on the results. And, perhaps most importantly, they let the customer interact online through functionality such as online accounts and the ability to chat online with agents. Increase support at the desktop for all who handle interactions 3 Mature companies have made the computer desktop system their agents use to resolve customer interactions easier to use and smarter. In most contact centres, the agent s desktop is a complex environment that requires agents to access multiple applications and navigate between them to complete even simple transactions such as taking an order. Innovative companies therefore build desktop systems that follow the flow of interactions and remove the need for agents to switch applications by hiding them behind a single user interface. The most mature companies go one step further and deploy a smart desktop that uses preconfigured rules to automatically retrieve relevant customer data from predefined sources, presenting the agent with the best possible results for the customer and recommending the next actions they should take to arrive at the most positive business outcome. 5

6 Refine your multichannel customer service strategy 4 As noted above, enabling customers to interact with the company through the channel of their choice involves more than just implementing the technology to handle different channels; it is important to have an operation that provides consistent information and experiences across all channels. The most mature companies have an integrated strategy that uses customer profile information to decide which channel to use for a certain interaction and uses the same information to personalise each interaction as it occurs. Improve responses to 5 A simple automated response saying the company has received a customer s message and will respond in a given period is no longer enough. has become a popular form of communication for seeking information, responding to requests and placing orders. Customers therefore expect a timely response that reflects their personal circumstances. The most mature companies craft such responses by automatically analysing the content of messages, categorising them by message type and at least partially creating a response based on the type and the customer s profile. This can be sent directly to the customers or forwarded to an employee who completes or approves the content before it is sent. Utilise social media as a customer support channel 6 The natural successor to for many customer segments is social media, including favourites such as Facebook and Twitter. Leaders in the field of customer service are embracing the platform and making it an integral part of their multi-channel strategy. Some Mature companies are implementing KPIs on a channel-by-channel basis so they can evaluate pioneering organisations even provide the ability for consumers to access personalised FAQs and account information directly from Facebook walls and to enter into customer service and sales dialogue via Twitter. With Social Media use forecast to grow further with the rise in use of smartphones, mobile applications are set to become channel of choice for consumers, requiring organisation to embrace this channel also. 6

7 New Ways To Measure Success These and other steps are important to improve the customer experience, but companies also must make sure they know how successfully they handle each interaction. Many do not: Our research shows that most companies have not changed the key performance indicators (KPIs) they use to determine how well they are managing customer interactions. The results show many still rely on overall customer satisfaction scores, queue times, average handling times, number of times a customer is put on hold and the time taken to complete after-call work. Yet of these, only customer satisfaction scores are an indicator of the outcome of interactions; companies need to adopt other measures that address effectiveness and outcomes. Mature companies add first-call resolution rates to their list of KPIs. However, having observed some common practices, we caution organisations to use first-call resolution carefully; for example, an agent might consider resending a statement as resolving a request for a missing invoice, but if the first failed because the customer s address has become corrupted, this will not resolve the issue because the new statement also will go astray and the customer will likely call again. The most mature companies have begun to implement outcome or effectiveness measures that show the impacts and business outcomes of interactions. Three of the most popular are net promoter scores (whether customers will Companies need to take full advantage of every inbound interaction. recommend the company to others), customer lifetime value (the amounts customers spends over their entire relationship compared to how much it costs the company to support them) and Web conversion rates (the percentage of customers who complete a purchase through Web-self service versus. those that only begin a transaction). As companies move to multichannel services, the more mature are implementing KPIs on a by channel basis so they can evaluate the impact each is having on the business. 7

8 Business Benefits of Improved Interaction-Handling Two recent changes make it more important than ever for companies to take full advantage of every inbound interaction. First is legislation that restricts outbound calls and other forms of unsolicited communication. The other is customer choice: The ubiquity of the Web makes it much harder to retain customers and persuade them to make additional purchases when they can go elsewhere so easily. In response, smart companies change the processes that handle inbound interactions to maximise the opportunity to disseminate targeted information to customers and try to sell them additional products and services while they have their attention. Companies that adopt the six steps described above can expect to see corresponding business benefits: Routing calls to the most-qualified agents has two benefits. First, it utilises agents to their best effect, which can motivate them and reduce attrition in the workforce. It also can increase customer satisfaction because callers get to interact with a competent person who knows their circumstances and can suggest the right remedy. Making the Web site more intuitive can also increase customer satisfaction and the percentage of visitors who complete purchases online; it also can reduce the number of visitors to the site who end up calling the contact centre. Providing better support for the agent at the desktop has multiple benefits, including reducing average call-handling times because the agent doesn t have to navigate through multiple systems to complete an interaction. Ease of use reduces the time it takes to train an agent and perhaps reduces attrition because agents will find their job less frustrating. It also can increase customer satisfaction as the agent concentrates fully on the caller and the system personalises the responses, which can increase up-selling opportunities by prompting the agent with offers and next best actions. As a result, mature companies see increased customer satisfaction scores, lower agent costs, reduced call times, increased sales, increased first-call resolution rates and fewer call-backs. Companies have to create a multi-channel customer service strategy just to keep up with customer expectations, but if executed correctly it can reduce the cost of handling customer interactions without lowering customer satisfaction by routing customers to their preferred channel for interactions. Automating and personalising the handling of has the dual benefit of reducing costs for responding to e- mails and increasing customer satisfaction because responses will arrive faster and be more personal. Making changes to improve the customer s experience requires a will to change. Like any other performance improvement initiative, it should not be undertaken without the information that can help people decide what to do or the systems to provide the information and monitor progress. At the outset, we advise companies to put in place a consistent source of customer data that is drawn from all relevant systems and integrated and use an analytics application to identify what needs to be changed and the impact of those changes on KPIs. Doing all this will allow your organisation to mature the management of the customer experience, influence customers behaviour at the point of contact, and in doing so produce your desired business outcomes. 8

9 do the right thing About numero numero enables organisations to handle extremely large volumes of customer interactions with ease. Whether communicating by phone, web, online, , text message or via social media - the numero software platform streamlines each and every customer journey. Whether the contact is a customer service enquiry or new sales opportunity, our powerful applications enable a more personalised, efficient, effective and timely response for a better all-round experience. Our solutions integrate seamlessly with existing processes and technologies allowing rapid deployment and payback in a wide variety of situations across many industry sectors and supporting many business needs. For many situations, we offer pre-configured line-of-business solutions that work straight out-of-the-box to capture, enrich and automate workflows to deliver the ultimate in customer service performance. Clients are supported by the 3 cornerstones of the numero business, namely: numero act This step-by-step process is provided without obligation to clients and establishes findings for the business case (including ROI, immediate benefits and longer term gains) along with proposals that relate directly to the real world situations clients face. numero interactive The state-of-the-art customer service solutions numero creates for contact centres, web applications and back office functions are powered by the numero interactive software platform. numero interactive streamlines customer journeys via any communication channel including phone, , online and written correspondence. numero pro Our professional services organisation numero pro provides a complete portfolio of services to clients, encompassing everything from pre-sales consultation to post implementation support. Providing everything needed to ensure that client projects are scoped, designed, implemented and supported to the highest standards. To understand how numero solutions can help you address individual customer needs while streamlining customer journeys via any commercial channel just speak to any of the numero team. From the numero white paper series on achieving world-class customer service Go to to download copies of these reports and more. w: t: e:

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