More and more companies seem to get on the train of customer centricity, well sort of. Organizations understand the importance and urgency that customer centricity brings, but few companies get it right. During our last webinar, Steven Van Belleghem and our CEO Leslie Cottenjé discussed the matter of extreme customer centricity. The first of three sessions focused on people, in particular the importance of your customer service team.
What is the real value of customer service?
Contact centers are often seen as cost centers, which shows how undervalued these departments are. Your agents are true experts and have an inexhaustible source of knowledge when it comes to the customer. Because of new technologies, companies have been shifting to AI-based contact centers more than ever. But the fact is, even if technology is creative, it’s not human.
For real and empathic conversations, the technology just is not there yet. Care center employees are the most important people within your company. Care center jobs were once labeled as “the first job to disappear” in the future. This could not be further from the truth. Demand will only grow in the future because people have an increasing need for their questions to be answered. Due to covid, contact centers saw a growing demand of questions, but the peak never went down.
Customer service agents are friction hunters. Meaning they are aware of every single friction point within the organization. Weirdly enough, the lowest-paid employees are often the closest to the customer and the best-paid ones are the furthest away. C-level executives need to close the gap between them and the customer, and they will have to do it by listening to their care center employees to identify where there’s friction.
Making sure every interaction is customer-centric
As the number of customer interactions grows, making sure every single one is perfect can be hard. But people don’t expect every interaction to be inch-perfect. Customers look for positive intent. The intention to do well makes all the difference in the world. Companies have to make sure their processes are not rigid and impersonal. If you look at restaurants, in essence, they all provide the same service. Still, people seem to be more satisfied with the service of one restaurant compared to the other – this is the intention.
To achieve this, employees have to be motivated. And to achieve that, companies must focus on employee experience. The work environment is extremely important. Why do football players perform well at certain clubs, but bad at the other? This is all due to the environment they are in.
Give all your employees direct customer feedback and make them thrive for customer satisfaction. Make sure they understand how they contribute to customer satisfaction. This will make employees work for a happy customer instead of a paycheck. People within the hospitality sector are experts at this. Behind the scenes they are normal people just like you and me. But in front of the customer, they go the extra mile. They know what the interaction has to be like, and they want to provide a memorable experience. The so-called intention.
The key to becoming more customer-centric
Vision. It all starts there. If you do not deliver a smile on the customer’s face today, he or she is gone tomorrow. Involve employees in communicating your vision and make sure you are united; everyone has to point in the same direction. Customer experience teams are very important in achieving this. They do not only inspire other teams but also facilitate their work and guide them. Customer experience teams are no police departments pointing fingers at people to say what they are doing wrong. They help other teams identify opportunities in order to excel as a company.
The right KPIs will guide you to success
Customer care center employees are vital. They reduce churn and contribute to brand building. But that contribution can also be negative. When you see an advertisement of a company after having a negative customer service experience with them. Will it work? It will work, but counterproductive. So, leave internal KPIs such as time of call and cost of service behind. Because those are a road to disaster. If employees feel like the issue has to be dealt with in a certain amount of time, they will rush. and customers will churn. Measuring them is one thing, but putting a target on them will only harm your organisation.
As for the KPIs you should be using, focus on experience. Both employee experience and customer experience. Your employees are constantly being confronted with negative customer experiences. Making sure they have the positive energy to deal with them day in day out, will contribute to achieving a positive customer experience.
How happy are your customers? If you were a CEO, or maybe you are already, and you call a customer service desk, would you hire the person behind the telephone? That’s the question you have to ask yourself, and the answer has to be yes. Because the service that makes you say yes is exactly the kind of service you want to deliver. You can also rely on financial KPIs but in the following way: do they decrease churn? Do they contribute to building the brand?
We are not there yet
Many organizations understand the urgency of customer centricity. But a lot of them still underestimate the importance of a customer service team to achieve it. A good way to start is focusing on employee experience and their intention to do well. Start with defining a vision and make sure employees are engaged. Customer care centers are here to stay. Don’t focus on putting targets on internal KPIs. Focus on delivering an experience for both your employees and customers. Human interaction combined with positive intention is the real differentiator.
Missed the first session? No worries! You can catch the replay here. Of course, you can still register for our next two sessions on product innovation and processes.