Today’s blog is courtesy guest blogger P. J. Weyforth, Customer Service, Sales, and BPO Executive, most recently Senior Vice President Operations with TeleTech@Home.
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, it would be hard to miss all the articles, webinars, conferences, and general discussion about the importance for corporations to get their house in order and make the improvements needed to reshape the interaction experience for their customers. According to most analysts’ research, there is a growing pressure for companies to look at the experience of the customer holistically in order to improve and permanently elevate it. There are three keys to accomplishing this:
- Customer interaction technology which enables a 360° view of the customer,
- The ability to mine customer transaction data, both structured and unstructured, in order to analyze opportunities for improvement,
- And, in my opinion a key element, the need to upgrade the capabilities of the human resources supporting the customer transaction.
Each of these is complex and no small task to accomplish. Plus, it’s become even more complicated when you throw in the newest channel that requires company support, Social Media.
When we talk about Customer Experience, the requirements are comparable to what they have always been. However, the tolerance and willingness to stay loyal to a company have diminished. Much of this is the direct influence of Social Media. The reach and impact of Social Media extends beyond the individual customer but to a potential audience of all customers that interact with a company. As a result the traditional Service Delivery channels are also impacted, whether it is Voice, Chat, E-mail, or even Snail Mail, by what takes place in the world of Social Media.
Customers still require what they’ve always wanted; a courteous, knowledgeable service representative that is able to support and resolve their needs and make decisions. The question is do we have the skills necessary in the traditional Call Centers to support these requirements. Generally speaking, most Call Center customer service staff is between the ages of 18-25, most with a high school education, little work experience and even less real world experience. So, while this age group may be savvy in Social Media, they may not be able to use those same skills in the context of supporting a customer’s service experience.
What needs to change in the world of Service Delivery to meet the challenges today and into the future? Of course it would be impossible to start with a clean sheet of paper. Nevertheless, there are positive steps which a Service Delivery organization can take to upgrade the talent to meet the demands of customers and improve the overall customer experience such as:
- Upgrade the assessment process to put more emphasis on critical thinking and decision-making skills. These two skills will significantly impact the outcome of the Customer Experience and by focusing the assessment process in these areas it will pay dividends.
- Develop a proficiency roadmap that allows new staff members to learn, with as little negative impact as possible on the overall customer experience. This is probably the most difficult, especially when Call Centers may be strapped for quality resources to fill their staffing needs. All the more reason to balance your customer service staff between the traditional call center and work at home resources.
- Invest in technology providing staff with a 360° view of the customer across all channel transactions so that they are knowledgeable and able to resolve all customer issues on the first contact.
- Tap into the work at home market to find a well-educated, mature, and savvy work force to support the business. These resources have the real world experience, critical thinking, and decision-making skills to meet the demands of a successful customer experience. You will also be surprised at their knowledge in the world of Social Media.
- Call Center leaders must be more creative and employ part-time resources that improve the profile of their staff. By doing this you can tap into resources looking for flexibility to attend college, care for family, or augment the family income while allowing the Call Center to upgrade the capability of their customer service representative staff with a side benefit of better meeting transaction arrival patterns.
Upgrading staff skills in the traditional Call Center Operation is an age-old problem. However, with the advancements in technology and the ability to tap into new resource pools for hiring – such as Work At Home – there is hope for Service Delivery Operations to accomplish that goal. At the end of the day, those companies that holistically look at the customer across all channel interactions and hire the right resources for Service Delivery will be successful in the marketplace.
Thank you for your insights and guest post, P. J.!