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How to turn customer service into an effective marketing tool

How to turn customer service into an effective marketing tool

By Nick Mylum, contact centre director, Eclipse Marketing

Brands have always been able to leverage new and scalable telecoms technology as a tool to open the door to a better, more personalised level of service.

Consumers are increasingly looking for value in their interactions for brands. You only have to look at a recent industry study that shows 22% of consumers now see online ‘peer-to-peer’ ratings as being influential or very influential in their decision to purchase. This makes it more important than ever that brands embrace social media technology to communicate with customers.

1) Understand the relationship

Consumers expect brand representatives to have a full understanding of their relationship with that business, including past custom, issues and interaction. Technology is a feature of everyday consumer life, whether it is using tablet devices on the move, or purchasing a 3DTV or Smart TV. They know that technology is evolving and they are acutely aware of the way that technology can be used in the customer service arena. With this the expectations of service they receive from organisations is only likely to increase.

The consumer no longer wants apologies from a business with departments that work in silos without insight and organisations that do this risk the wrath of their customers online. They demand connected thinking, whether they’re moving from social media to more traditional platforms, or being passed between departments internally. Brands need to use the information they gather through their interactions with the customer to build a clearer picture of what the drives them – their habits and behaviours, and apply this to way they communicate with them.      

2) Reap the benefits of traditional technology

It’s true to say that there are huge advances in technology taking place and that brands can leverage these to maximise their customer service function effectively. They also still need to lean on some of the more traditional technologies. Forecasting and planning software, as well as data recording systems for quality benchmarking are both good examples.

Clearly, all of the above technologies offer big benefits to an organisation that is serious about winning business and delivering a level of customer service that adds value to retention and brand advocacy, but there can be an Achilles heel to all this.

The risk is that when you’re running a contact centre it’s easy to start seeing your technology as the ‘winning feature’ of your proposition, when in fact these tools - no matter how complex or sophisticated - are deemed by many customers to be ‘business as usual’ and in effect, merely enablers.

3) Think human

In truth, the real differentiator in winning the hearts and minds of customers is the same as it’s always been; the quality and capability of the people empowered to own and drive the customer experience. This means recruiting and maintaining enthusiastic contact centre staff who can deliver an engaging ‘human’ service that builds the relationship between the brand and the customer.

Now, more than ever, contact centre managers need to ensure that, along with their focus on technology, they commit themselves to the right cost and allocation of resources in order to develop their people to be the best they can be.

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