Call centers increasingly understand the importance of providing excellent service to their customers and are adopting a customer-centric approach as a result. If your goal is to transform your call center into a customer-centric call center, this blog post is an excellent place to start. It applies findings from the Deloitte white paper, “Customer-centricity; Embedding it into your organization’s DNA” to call centers.
Below are the seven essentials of a customer-centric call center:
1.Visible, customer-focused leadership
Customer-centricity requires a top down approach. This is so important that organizations like Oracle developed a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) to ensure a consistently amazing customer experience across all touch points. If you don’t have the resources for a CCO in your call center, try out some of these suggestions from Deloitte:
- Formulate a clear vision of what customer-centricity entails for your call center and convey this to your agents
- Articulate what customer-centricity looks like in practice and give your team concrete examples
- Educate your team about the impact that changes in business policies or procedures have on the customer
- Ensure that customer service leaders have a voice on your social media channels
- Ask higher-ups to get their hands dirty by personally responding to some customer complaints
- Motivate and inspire your team by telling stories of exceptional customer service interactions
Creating a customer-centric culture starts with you. Get the ball rolling with some of the aforementioned tips and your team will likely follow suit.
2. Understand your customer
Providing amazing customer service requires that you truly understand your customer base and then tailor your approach accordingly. How do you accomplish such a feat? Try out some of the suggestions below:
- Organize a Customer Insight Team and encourage them to leverage data to drive decision-making
- Adjust your approach to organizing and grouping customer data to be more in line with your customer service strategy
- Acquire in-depth information about each customer (e.g., socioeconomic status, location of residence, household details, etc.) as this will enrich your understanding of your customer base
- Provide customer data to other departments (e.g., sales, technical support, marketing, etc.) so they can use it to inform their approach to interacting with the customers
- Leverage call center software that will display this comprehensive information in the browser as the customer calls to enhance interactions
Gaining a more comprehensive understanding of your customer, and providing that relevant information to your agents in real-time will enable your agents to provide more personalized and effective experience.
3. Design the experience
In order to be a top-notch customer-centric call center, every interaction, from the first to the last, should be perfect. What is perfection in the eyes of your customers? Minimize customer effort and maximize customer value. This entails:
- Embedding company values in training and promoting them to increase awareness amongst agents
- Staffing your frontline with knowledgeable agents to increase first call resolution
- Providing a seamless experience throughout all touch points to reduce friction
- Maintaining a coherent voice on social media, apps, printed branding and website to reduce confusion
Providing a seamlessly amazing customer experience from beginning to end is imperative for call centers aiming to boost their customer-centricity. Doing so will not only reduce customer frustration but will enhance customer loyalty.
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4. Empower the frontline
Customer-centric call centers must employ call center agents that are capable of providing amazing service. This requires more than intelligence and experience. In order to truly provide customer-centric support, you must:
- Educate the frontline call center agents on branding, culture, values so they deliver service that is consistent with these values
- Make agents an integral member of the organization so they are proud to provide amazing service
- Cultivate innovation by encouraging autonomy and creative problem-solving
- Equip your agents with the right tools so they can resolve issues on the first point of contact
- Provide your agents with a 360 degree view of the customer so they can make data-driven decisions
Empowering the frontline requires providing your agents with the right tools, training and autonomy so they can engage in professional and effective interactions with your customers.
5. Metrics that matter
Enhancing your call center’s customer-centricity would be next to impossible without data. In order to make decisions that will positively impact your customers, your call center agents, managers and executives must be referencing real-time and historical data. Enhance customer-centricity by:
- Utilizing call center software that provides comprehensive metrics
- Empowering your agents with real-time and historical data so they can make informed decisions that enhance the customer experience
- Analyze KPIs and make decisions based on these metrics
- Create a culture of continuous data-driven improvement
- Ensure that your metrics are aligned to the customer lifecycle and key touch points (e.g., Customer Lifetime Value, Net Promoter Score, etc.)
- Tie agent feedback and performance evaluations to metrics
When your entire team is making data-driven decisions based on real-time and historical data, your customers win.
6. Engage the back office
It is not enough to just educate and empower frontline call center agents to provide customer-centric service. In order to truly be a customer-centric call center, you must engage the entire team. To accomplish this, try the following suggestions from Deloitte:
- Ensure that back-office functions are informed by customer-centric values
- Enhance collaboration across departments and give them the tools to do so
- Develop policies that enable agents to provide top-notch support (i.e., flexibility to return a customer’s call when needed, allowing a cooling off period after a tough call, etc.)
- Encourage back-office staff to spend time on the frontline to enhance their awareness of the customer’s needs
Call centers striving to increase their customer-centricity must involve their entire company with the process. Doing so will go a long way to ensuring that every customer interaction is excellent.
7. Feedback drives continuous improvements
Your team is only as good as their weakest customer interaction. In order to enhance the service you provide, you must collect customer feedback and use this information to fuel continuous improvements. Below are a few suggestions from Deloitte to help you accomplish this:
- Create a team dedicated to monitoring, analyzing and acting on customer feedback
- Monitor customer interactions on social media for real-time insight and respond to their comments ASAP
- Use data mining tools to gain more information about customer feedback and incorporate this data into your CRM
- Utilize a centralized dashboard where all employees can upload and access customer feedback to allow them to make data-driven decisions
Utilizing customer feedback to continually improve how your team provides service is key to enhancing customer-centricity within your call center. Make sure your team has the right tools, skills and training to do so.
Applying the seven aforementioned essentials to your call center will enable your team to enhance the service they provide your customers. The bottom line? When your agents, managers and executives have a comprehensive understanding of your customer’s needs, the right tools and comprehensive data, they will be well on their way to providing excellent customer-centric service.