With more data and systems available than ever before, improving the customer experience shouldn’t be a guessing game. The most effective customer service organizations are extremely data-driven, analyzing every aspect of its interactions and outcomes holistically, right down to the individual agent and customer level. They take this data and continually analyze what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve results for both their customers and their stakeholders.
This same proliferation of systems and data that enable informed analyses also creates a tremendous amount of complexity and margin for error. So here are the three best practices we’ve identified in our work with some of the world’s most tech-forward, enterprise brands:
1. Contact Centers Need a Single Source of Truth in Data
In the most basic enterprise customer service toolset, there’s a contact center platform (or ACD), customer relationship management solution (CRM), and workforce engagement solution (WEM). That can expand considerably with a Knowledge Base/FAQ platform, social media management solution, project management software, and in-team communications.
In theory, these tools are integrated through APIs so they can share data to provide deeper reporting insights, but UJET’s State of the Customer Experience Trend Report revealed that, of the over 290 senior-level contact center professional respondents, 54% of respondents said there were some silos and 30% said there were lots of silos.
But in practice, these integrations are almost never perfect. This is especially true between the contact center and CRM where vendors have historically competed to be THE customer service system of record. The result of this fight led to fragmented views of the customer record and customer journey caused by the inability to correctly process field mapping, data translation, and reconciliation.
These gaps and challenges in reconciling the data are relics of the past. The CRM is (and should be) the core of enterprise customer data. Contact Center leaders shouldn’t be looking for new and better ways to manage and rationalize these disparate data pools, but instead use tools that enhance and augment the CRM data for a single source of truth. This has become a competitive advantage for many of our own customers who can now see – and act – on a holistic view of each individual customer and their complete journey.
2. Contact Centers Need to Move Beyond Omnichannel as the Basis for Customer Journeys
Another myth perpetuated by the previous generation of contact center vendors is the importance of omnichannel to mapping and improving the customer journey. While intelligent and contextual channel routing can be a powerful part of the customer journey, most contact center omnichannel strategies only addressed agent views of the journey. The actual customer journey experience is still as fragmented and disjointed as ever. And it’s only made worse in the never-ending race to add and support more “channels.”
Adding more channels sounds good on paper, but if these channels remain separated then we’re just further fragmenting the customer journey. A customer, historically, hasn’t been able to transfer from voice to chat or send information to an agent without being disconnected from that agent. A customer exits and restarts the experience on a new channel and explains the issue again. The expected modern customer experience is one connected journey between the customer and agent all on a single device.
That single device is the smartphone. Its cross-platform and cross-functional capabilities allow customers to communicate through voice, text, and visual media simultaneously. The customer experience is a translation of the communication medium, not a hedge maze to triage incoming requests.
3. Personalized Experiences Are Meaningless if You Lack Context
A customer record is useless if you don’t pair it with actionable information. When customer service is contacted, the contact center platform should already be comparing and reconciling customer identification. A modern customer service experience will use distinct identifiers to match customers to existing CRM data.
This triggers rules to route customers to self-service solutions, Virtual Agents, or human agents who determine the exact issue and solve it. Every step is actively identifying the customer and the issue to build out the customer record for current and future interactions.
A personalized experience isn’t customer recognition, but presenting relevant information that increases the efficiency of the customer experience. The customer shouldn’t be greeted by a human agent with a “hello, how can I help you?”, but a full understanding of the issue and readily present solutions.
Data Doesn’t Lie Unless You Let It
Customer service organizations need a lot of tools to run efficiently, but they shouldn’t be fighting for information amongst each other. The CRM is your source of truth and customer service organizations need to design streamlined data communications with that in mind.
The contact center’s omnichannel capabilities allow customer/agent interactions through a smartphone’s channel array, but each channel is not a silo. Voice, text, and media sharing are complementary and contact centers have to stop creating artificial walls between them. When customers can share information through a unified conversation across any channel to provide more context, the entire experience improves.
Information and data are key to every customer service issue and organizations must stop running the customer and agent experience as parallel tracks when they are meant to be unified.