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Contact Centers: The Business Intelligence Agency for Telecoms

Telecom executives are often focused on customer acquisition to the exclusion of customer happiness and retention. Customer service executives know the true sustainability of the company requires an ability to keep customers, and to produce raving fans that refer our products and services to their family, friends and networks. This means excellence in customer service is an imperative, not a nice-to-have.

Positive customer experiences have a proven impact on customer satisfaction. What transitions CSAT from an attitude based on a moment in time to the behavior of a loyal customer is the combination of product and service. It’s not enough to sell a smartphone if it drops calls or the basic functions are not intuitive. If your customer can’t connect their devices to the internet, they’re not happy. Nor is it great if their wireless TV won’t sync with their social accounts and movie sites.

When things do go wrong, your contact center is often the point of resolution. As such, the data they collect is the intelligence first-mover communication service providers (CSPs) need to create positive interactions across the company—online or off. Customer service representatives (CSRs) trained to resolve problems, respond with empathy, and gauge new opportunities to improve experiences are much more than a cost-to-serve. In fact, CSRs can be the vital link to fulfilling customer expectations.

Gathering Intelligence in the Contact Center

What customer service executives need to know is much more than the nature of the complaints or customer issues. What they need to assess is the impact, the emotional toll on the overall experience, and the volume of each type of problem. CSRs gather much more valuable intelligence than digital behavioral analytics or customer surveys because they can gauge the emotional quality of the exchange.

When your contact center vendor brings methodologies such as Customer Interaction Design into workflow and process development, the result is agents skillfully trained to listen closely and respond appropriately, first-call resolution is handled gracefully without extending average handle time beyond the boundaries of mutual benefit. This includes the ability to spot an opportunity to up or cross sell that can build on the resolution the customer seeks and create more happiness than just solving their problem. And this capability drives revenues while increasing the value of the overall experience—from the customer’s perspective.

Harnessing the voice of the customer is a top goal for customer service professionals across industries. Contact centers are the perfect place to gather their collective voice as calls are recorded and data collected, which is not true for in-store conversations. Contact centers with ever-increasing quality assurance processes can analyze and filter the data to provide key insights to specific lines of business, including marketing, sales, product research, human resources and finance.

Using data to drive better decisions is much better than relying on gut instinct. It keeps companies from over reacting to “squeaky wheels” and helps them to make decisions based on the overall impact to business objectives.

Unfortunately, CSPs haven’t been doing a great job of aligning their service decisions to customer needs, according to research by the Temkin Group on customer experience.

Over 10,000 consumers were asked to rate companies across 19 industries based on 3 components of customer experience: functional, accessible and emotional. In the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, grocery, retail and food companies earned high rankings of 74 percent satisfaction and higher, while the best telecom, cable and television companies they ranked scored 20 points lower.

The contact center is perfectly positioned to help CSPs improve in these rankings:

  • Functional: Consumers were asked to rank the degree that they were able to accomplish what they wanted to do. Because a majority of calls to the contact center are initiated based on a functional issue, CSRs can help identify those issues, why they happened, and what the customer would prefer to have happen.
  • Accessible: Consumers were asked to rank how easy it was to interact with the company. CSRs can also discover the impediments to access and correct that impression during the call.
  • Emotional: Consumers were asked to rank how they “felt” about their interactions. This can be the most difficult component to assess, but CSRs will experience a greater range of consumer emotions than nearly every other point of contact. The data they can gather about consumer emotions can be put to excellent use in creating more positive experiences across a variety of touch points.

Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement in consumers’ minds. Those that want to differentiate their company from the competition can get ahead by improving customer service performance by treating the contact center as the business intelligence agency.

Don’t Rest on Brand Alone

Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz stepped away from the company in 2000, trusting the strength of the brand to drive continued growth. He stepped back in seven years later when his brand faltered in a recessionary economy. The Seattle company had lost touch with its customers, relying too much on the brand, he explained in his book on Starbuck’s transformation.

Brands can’t foster emotional connections when customer experiences don’t measure up. Brand attributes can change over time and companies like Starbucks that become complacent and take customers for granted often fail to attract or retain customers.

Customer service has to be much more than purely functional. Customers need to feel welcomed, well served, and enjoy their total experience to feel emotionally connected to a company.

Judging by the consistently low scores consumers give CSPs, customer service levels and experiences are not measuring up. Many are resting on their laurels and brands. Consumers are more perceptive than most companies acknowledge. Ignoring their sentiments is not a lucrative decision.

Use Intelligence to Increase Market Share

Improving customer service performance can have a big impact on your company’s business. Not only can it improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs but the CSP that takes steps to improve customer experiences stands to grab market share and increase revenues.

During this time of increased competition for customers, CSPs need to take steps to connect emotionally with customers. Customers want to buy from companies that care. Their decisions to buy are based on much more than price.

Your customers will choose to stay when it’s evident that customer service is attuned to their needs and expresses the value of the relationship. The effort expended to improve the customer experience will result in customers who are proud of their purchases, and tell others of their affinity for your brand. Using the business intelligence gathered by your contact center can produce growth in market share because you’ll make better decisions based on what’s important to your customers.