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5 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

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ShoreTel Call Center

How can businesses deliver on the promise of a great “customer experience?” That’s the crux of an ongoing discussion led by analysts and journalists – and the driving force behind an investment that both C-suites and call centers should seriously consider.

Why? Because customer experience could be the next killer app, as John P. David of David PR Group observes in the Huffington Post. Because creating a better customer experience has proved an elusive goal for so many businesses, David was initially skeptical of the notion. But after hearing digital analyst Brian Solis speak about how companies can make meaningful changes, he’s changed his mind.

Solis isn’t the only one preaching the value of such investments. Research by Forrester Research shows that when businesses focus on customer experience, they often earn “enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.” Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Forrester researchers Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan and Conor Jones contend: “A company that manages complete journeys would not only do its best with the individual transaction but also seek to understand the broader reasons for the call, address the root causes, and create feedback loops to continuously improve interactions upstream and downstream from the call.”

Thus, call centers play a pivotal role in delivering an excellent customer experience, whether resolving an issue quickly or relaying feedback to the product team.

How can executives and call centers retool the customer experience? Experts recommend looking at the entire customer journey and finding ways to simplify it. These five steps will help you shape a better experience and improve call center interactions.

  1. Understand your customers. Develop an accurate profile of your customers and what they want. By taking advantage of call center surveys, you can evaluate customer satisfaction and gather input at each point of interaction. Then, pair this data with an analysis of call data for additional insight.
  2. Gather agent feedback. Raw data alone isn’t enough to help you understand the full customer journey, but it does help you determine what questions need to be asked. Round out your customer profile with qualitative input from agents. For example, they can explain the reasons behind long wait queues or too many handoffs.
  3. Define a new customer roadmap. The results of this research will enable you to map a better customer journey. Implementing the roadmap in the call center may require new tools, such as a single-screen view of customer information or the availability of chat and presence features. But these types of tools will help agents resolve issues on the first call.
  4. Set benchmarks and measure. To continue elevating the customer experience, organizations must determine new KPIs and install appropriate measurement tools. Add metrics that assess the quality of the overall customer experience – such as how often customers must call to resolve issues – not simply their satisfaction with a single interaction.
  5. Robust training. Agents are more likely to meet the goals of a new roadmap if they have a thorough understanding of how the company defines “customer experience” and how it works in practice. A robust training program will help agents master not only customer service basics and product knowledge, but your customer roadmap.  

As you revamp, take the time to document your expectations and the process for creating an excellent customer experience. Be sure to share this with everyone in the organization. After all, it’s the journey, not the individual interactions, that matters the most.