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Walkthrough Wednesdays

Better Customer Service Through Collaboration


Good news: Customers are becoming people in 2013. It’s prediction season. The blog world is ripe with posts of premonitions and predictions for every horizontal, vertical, and diagonal cross-section of business, science, and life in general.

The year’s predictions for customer service have a strong focus on people and experience. Look back just two years and you’ll see a greater emphasis on the process and operational pieces of the puzzle. Then, customers were essentially the sum of their activities and accounts. Today, they’re people and need to be treated as such, especially with the power that social media affords them to share opinions, feedback, and feelings about their interactions as your customer. (Feelings? Not those! Can I even mention those in a corporate post?!)

Some common phrases pop up in this year’s predictions: experience, multichannel, social media, differentiation, personalization, collaboration.

Contact centers are moving beyond transactions to relationships. Service is becoming a competitive differentiator. Creating more interactive and collaborative customer relationships is making a difference. Customer satisfaction is about more than making sure the customer gets the product and that the product works. It’s about creating loyalty so that customer comes back and becomes your advocate.

How can collaboration technology help along the way? The following use cases provide several options and benefits:

Provide Multichannel Customer Service: If you haven’t done it yet, it’s time to branch out beyond the voice-only contact center. Forrester reports that use of alternative contact channels is growing with increases of 25% in community usage, 24% in chat, and 12% in web self-service over the last three years. Voice is the old guard. It’s still the most common way people reach out for service, but e-mail and chat are fast encroaching.

Locate & Access Remote Experts: Real-time access to experts goes a long way toward resolving customer issues more quickly – quicker resolution, happier customers, greater loyalty. Expertise tagging and presence capabilities can help you create a virtual pool of experts and specialists within your organization, giving service and sales teams the ability to quickly contact the most available resources to meet the customer need. Why does it matter? Typical first-call resolution rates average 56%, while best-in-class companies resolve 82% of issues on the customer’s first call, according to Aberdeen Group.

Monitor Social Media: It’s not a secret that social media is influencing consumer behavior and purchasing choice. But not all companies consider or manage it as part of their overall customer-service package. Provide real-time proactive response to generate greater customer loyalty and brand preference. Real-time communications make a difference.

Along the way, my current favorite story about proactive customer service involves pecan pie. Most companies wait for customers to complain about a product before offering up a replacement or repair. And when it’s a $8 item, most people probably don’t bother to complain. Yet someone at BJ’s Wholesale Club realized the pie wasn’t up to par. BJ’s tapped into purchase-history data to identify the members who purchased the substandard pecan pie, then sent apology letters and coupons. At the product level, it’s cheaper to replace 5 items than 500. But take the customer experience view: Using this level of personalized service to build customer loyalty, return business, advocacy, and positive press far outweighs the cost of dessert. (And where did I learn about this? Social media…)

~ Kim

Explore the Collaboration Use Case Tool to learn different ways collaboration technology can help you meet business imperatives. Find benefits, statistics, case studies, research, and products.

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