By Phillip Shuldham-Legh, director of communications, The Listening Company
The world is changing fast, and nowhere is this more noticeable than in the demands of consumers. Indeed, to many companies the phenomenon of a highly competitive marketplace and increasingly disloyal customer base is a familiar problem.
Brands have long realised that it’s not the product alone that determines whether customers are advocates of the brand, rather it is the experience of the brand as a whole. Indeed, contact centres present brands with a real opportunity to gain an understanding of a customer’s expectations and thus engender long-term costumer loyalty.
Because every customer interaction provides real-time, measurable, two-way dialogue - every conversation represents an ideal opportunity to understand and subsequently improve a customer’s experience with a given brand. So with this in mind, how do we genuinely capture ‘valuable’ data through contact centres?
Understand how your customers past, present and future engaging with you.
How many of you are able to service customers via email, phone and Internet? How many of you know which channels your customers are using, when and with what outcome?
Customers now expect to communicate with different businesses in different ways, as a result it is important for you to integrate different channels of communication allowing customers to be heard and for you to understand which touchpoints customers are using.
This data, gathered centrally, allows a single view of the customer to be gained. Therefore enabling you to know how many times a customer has visited the website, enquired through the call centre and how many mailings they have received when you contact them with a special offer.
Communicate the importance of data to your employees
Investment in regular and effective coaching for contact centre staff will pay dividends for any company. The agents in the call centre are the front line and they need to understand the importance and need of capturing data. Agents need to coax data out from customers and prospects effortlessly and subtly.
No-one likes to feel processed and some call centres are very good at processing. Nor do you want agents pushing up call lengths by getting engaged in pointless chatter. Use the customer insight to talk to customers at the right time, with the right message via the right medium, this should make the experience for both parties that more pleasurable and pleasurable conversations will reap rewards for both!
Also the information that is obtained from customers is greatly enriched when it is analysed with feedback from agents as they can provide valuable anecdotal and qualitative feedback to support and explain data analysis.
Classify and Define what you mean by ‘Valuable’ data
When speaking to the customer you need to be able to determine which information is the most valuable. This requires testing and analysing different approaches – it is all about finding the ‘killer question’ that gets the positive outcome you are seeking. However the challenge is that there maybe lots of killer questions for lots of different people.
The other notable point is that arguably the most valuable data can be gathered from the non-responders who are explaining why they don’t want to buy a certain product. This is priceless feedback which should be incorporated into the training for the agents so they are aware it is a valuable point, the information can then be used to inform offers planned for next time and even product development.
Tailor the conversation the customer
Some customers are not as profitable as others and you should use data analysis to identify customer value and management the relationship accordingly. No-one likes to be ‘processed’ in a call centre but gathering data conversationally is a skill and one that needs to be nurtured and encouraged through effective monitoring, feedback and coaching.
The explosion of digital channels in recent years has meant that consumers are no longer allied to one particular mode of communication. Consequentially, contact centres need to listen to their customers to find out how they wish to be communicated with and then tailor their dialogue accordingly.
Regularly validate the value of data
Consumers are changing fast and as a result you need to regularly review the data you are gathering and the value you are placing on it. Through analysis you are able to constantly validate your data models and see, for instance, whether date of birth is still relevant or if purchase history remains an accurate indicator of future behaviour.
It is important to ensure that the data capture is relevant, both to the consumer and to your business. Disposition codes, the codes selected by agents to classify a call, need to be reviewed regularly as they are the windows on the market.
If you are not using a piece of data, remove it from the script as it is not adding value, pushes up the call length and could possible even create a negative word of mouth experience. If you are asking a question where the response is low, clearly the consumer or agent has an issue with it.
In this instance, either the agent needs to receive further training, re-scripting needs to happen or it should be removed. Similarly if you are asking questions that generate a stack of data on the database you never use, it should be replaced with questions the answers to which, would provide value.
It is as much about keeping your data valid and valuable, as your conversations relevant and positive.
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