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I previously talked about the importance of service in the digital age – Big Data and Analytics, Digital engagement, Digital innovation etc – and how it requires new thinking and new experiences. Today I want to explain to you how this is possible within the contact centre. It’s time the call centre delivers a new kind of sales experience that revolutionises the way it interacts with and on-boards customers.
Most firms were hit hard during the economic downturn but are now in the process of recovering and looking to future growth. With the recovery in sight, firms need to both maximise and improve conversion rates on new sales and look for opportunities in cross and up sale. In order to successfully realise these outcomes firms need to retain customers as well as improve the customer experience and trust that will drive future loyalty.
At a time when customer demand is for easy, convenient and immediate interactions, and the market is flooded by innovative digital offerings and heavy regulation; firms are struggling to service their customers in a cost effective way and deliver the right experience. An experience that helps customers gets their jobs done in order to achieve their desired outcomes/life goals.
Call centres have been and continue migrating to multi-channel service in the cloud, Mobile, Social Media, Voice, Email, SMS etc., but there’s a problem. In most cases, the call centre still services customers via voice or text across all channels in a very transactional way that inevitably results in lots of ‘interrupt and repeat’. It is also still dependent on traditional back-end systems and processes and paper fulfillment – and for lack of a better word the Post Office. This causes serious breaks in the sales process as well as increasing ineffectiveness.
Arguably, there is no better or more rewarding opportunity to engage your customers – after all first impressions really matter – than at the point of sale. This is where the relationship is initiated and “money” changes hands – you should get it right. Unfortunately, when it comes to the call centre, even though more channels are being introduced, two key ingredients to the delivery of a great experience are missing – Visual Engagement and Web Capabilities.
Visual Engagement: is achieved by a two way conversation using Chat, Video or Face to Face. There are many benefits and barriers of using these three channels; however, I believe that the best (practical) case is where you can combine the quality of a face to face meeting with the ease, convenience and real time of the internet, all for the cost of a call centre.
There have been a number of research studies done on what adding visuals will do to a meeting. The two that I like the most are that it will increase retention by up to 6 times whilst reducing meeting time. If you think about it, this is pretty intuitive! If I am showing you something while I’m explaining it to you then you are more likely to be engaged and remember it and trust the information provided. And the adage of a picture being worth a thousand words means that I can explain complex issues to you more clearly and succinctly.
For certain sales processes, e.g. mortgage, the sales process can take over 45 min. No matter how efficient the agent is, there is no way that they can keep the customer engaged for this period of time. Added visuals will assist to keep the customer engaged.
Web Capabilities: this is about propelling the contact centre into its natural evolution by bringing all of the web capabilities and convenience of the internet into the contact centre and giving your brand a “face” to what otherwise would be a text or voice interaction. Or to put it another way, it’s about bridging the gap between self-serve and traditional channels.
Now imagine if your contact centre agents could remove the sales barriers from the sales process with the following capabilities:
- Secure, electronic document transfer, e.g. KFI, application forms, CCA’s…
- Electronic signatures, e.g. terms and conditions, DPA, CCA’s…
- Customers can send documents to agents, e.g. signed forms, proof of affordability…
- Show visualisations of your products and services e.g. dynamic calculators, illustrations etc
- All on one call….
Now imagine…. all of the above (the web capabilities and visual engagement) wrapped and packaged beautifully with your brand colours and messages…
* Would that not be fantastic?
* Would that not deliver a new and exciting experience that your customers would enjoy and talk about?
* Would this not in most cases show up as blue sky thinking, when you run your customer journey mapping workshops?
* Would this not result in higher conversion rates, customer satisfaction and efficiency gains?
The reality now is that more and more customers will have a screen in front of them whenever they call your contact centre. In fact, I would say that a large number of customers are already looking at your website before calling. If you sum up Mobile, Tablet, and PC usage, I bet that the majority of customers calling you are in front of a screen.
This represents an untapped opportunity where the customer and the call centre can interact with each other via a visual interface rather than relying on voice and text only. If the interface is designed properly and includes web capabilities, it can vastly improve the customer experience, increase sales whilst reducing the cost to serve.
Let’s face it; you wouldn’t open a shop without a window display? So, why run a sales call centre without one?
Yes, you can follow the same approach in service but that would be a future blog post!
Author: Marcio Rodrigues, @MarcioOnTW
This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival “Celebrating Customer Experience.” It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here.