In my previous blog post, Agile Customer Service in the omnichannel World, I described the characteristics of agile customer service as a new approach to serving your customers in the omnichannel world. In this post I am going to dive into the details and explain what you need to focus on if you want to make your customer service more agile.
Central to the transformation from multi-channel to agile CRM is that the customer service strategy is organized around touch points (http://www NULL.omnichannel NULL.nl/?p=1675), and not channels. This means that the context and personal situation of the customer determines the way of communicating. Therefore, the interaction is contextual. A second important condition is that there is no functional division between service, sales and marketing channels. These silos should not define the customer experience. The communication and information available should be consistent regardless of the type of purpose, for which a channel is utilized. Third, as customers have multi-touch point and multi-device service expectations throughout their customer journey, organizations can only serve them successfully if they provide opportunity to interact across all these touch points. This brings us to the following three C’s of agile customer service, which define the core of this approach.
In the remainder of this post I will explain what each of these principles entails and the scenarios in which they occur.
A condition to contextual customer service is that it is triggered by consumer insights, and thus it is a proactive, outside-in approach. Contextual means enriching your customer experience by crawling into their skin and knowing when, where and how they expect to be served. You can only create an ultimate customer experience if you can predict what the customer needs and wants at that particular moment. Regardless of whether the customer initiates the contact or you, it is equally crucial to be able to recognize their context and provide service that not only meets, but exceeds their expectations. According to the Forrester Research report, (the same I mentioned in my previous post) context refers to recognizing the intent, device and location of your customer.
- Intent – a customer receives a personalized chat invitation on a retailer’s website, depending on what page she is looking at. If it is a female customer stalling on the high-end anti-aging creams overview page for more than 30 seconds without taking action, she will be offered to chat to a “Face Skin Specialist”.
- Device- if a customer has ordered a pizza via a mobile app he will be able to follow via Google maps the route of his courier as he is driving the delivery to his home.
- Location – travel insurance companies can send information via a mobile app to customers leaving the country on what the price is for the next toll highway (especially relevant for travelers in France and Italy).
From the customer’s perspective, each interaction with your company should have the same quality, and the experience should be consistent regardless of the channel through which the interaction takes place. The main challenge for companies here is to ensure that their internal processes and organization support this end goal. This is also the greatest challenge of all three C’s, because it requires internal changes that affect the whole organization. Companies were built around knowledge silos and have been operating on this principle for years. Marketing, sales and customer service are still not collaborating internally, even though they recognize the need to do so. Not to mention that in many companies Online/ Marketing/Service/Sales are separate departments. Therefore, in order to achieve consistency, you need to:
- Ensure a single view of customer data – CRM data for customer profiles, sales data, contact centre and browsing history for each customer should be visible and accessible at any time for every department that interacts with the customer.
- Knowledge management – with a channel-down focus, every channel has been building its own knowledge base and experience around customers. Since they have been disconnected, often the customer will experience the interactions differently. Now you have to combine this knowledge by reconnecting the channels and providing them with a common framework to collect and exchange knowledge seamlessly.
- Processes – the way customer interactions are handled requires significant changes once you are devoted to providing agile service. SLAs, handling times, filtering and business rules developed for different channels now have to be adapted to meet the new requirements of the mobile consumer who wants things to happen quickly, without errors, and wants to be kept up-to-date on the device of his choice.
You need to be prepared to respond to the multi-device and multi-channel needs of your highly mobile customers. Plotting customer journeys for your customers will help you to recognize when and where the touch points are. Armed with this knowledge, you can focus on fine-tuning your cross-channel strategy. It will result in”:
- A smooth transition between channels – the customer’s flow should not be disturbed by channel inconsistencies. He should be able to complete his request in one go regardless of the channels involved. For instance, customers with a smartphone owning a mobile app can call and be connected to the closest- located shop (geolocation data makes this possible).
At the core of this agile approach lie organization and technological changes. Changing your processes and investing in state-of-the-art customer analytics and marketing software will be an indispensable part of the transition. Agile customer service will thus require technology integration and business process consistency between mobile, web, contact center and in-store/branch. For agile to become reality a top-down strategic approach in your organization is essential. In my next post I will zoom in on the process of strategic embedding of customer-centered omnichannel approach in your organization.