SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Andrew Prokop
Andrew Prokop has been heavily involved in the world of communications since the early 1980s. He holds five United States...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Andrew Prokop | March 20, 2017 |

 
   

Are You Experienced at Providing an Optimal Customer Experience?

Are You Experienced at Providing an Optimal Customer Experience? While nearly everything in our modern life is rooted in some form of technology, the human experience is still the holy grail of customer care.

While nearly everything in our modern life is rooted in some form of technology, the human experience is still the holy grail of customer care.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
-- Confucius

My wife and I enjoy eating out. We both work hard Monday through Friday and look forward to a weekend night or two of no meal planning, no cooking, and best of all, no dishes to wash. With the price of food at a five-year low, we know that a restaurant meal will cost us substantially more than what we can prepare at home, but we don't do it for money. We don't do it for convenience, either.

We do it for the experience. We go to places that not only serve foods we enjoy eating, but we go to where we feel welcomed. We go where we know the service will be good and the atmosphere thrilling. If I wanted chipped china, stained napkins, and well-worn chairs, I know exactly where to find that -- at home.

The smart restaurant owners have realized this and have placed customer experience on par with good food. This is especially striking in the middle tier, or casual restaurants. For example, it's now not uncommon to find wood burning fireplaces and other previously higher end amenities in an Applebee's or Chili's. They've learned that their customers are willing to pay higher prices if they feel they are being treated better.

So, what does this have to do with technology? Actually, quite a bit.

We typically think of the customer experience of a restaurant as everything between their front and back doors. However, for many modern day consumers, the customer experience begins long before they pull into the parking lot. The same can be said about other brick and mortar establishments.

For me, the experience often begins on a smartphone and PC. Prior to tucking in my napkin or pulling a package off the shelf, I've formed an opinion of an establishment from that company's webpage or mobile app. I can honestly say that there are some businesses I won't go to because their webpages frustrate or annoy me. If they don't care about me as a virtual consumer, why should I believe that will change if I choose to become a brick and mortar shopper?

I Don't Want to Talk About It
This may sound a little funny coming from a dial tone guy, but I believe that a voice call to a contact center agent is a sign that something has failed. It may be because the company's website is too complicated or lacks the right information. It could also mean that a voice response unit doesn't ask the right questions. Perhaps a "chat with an agent" option is neither obvious nor easy to use. Even worse, maybe there is no chat function. It could also be the sign of a lousy social media presence. "I asked for help on your Facebook page, but no one responded." No matter what the cause, voice is typically the most expensive and most time consumptive way to make a consumer happy.

One of the primary goals of a customer care unit should be to keep their agents from talking. Yes, there are times when only human-to-human contact can solve a problem, but those times should be kept to a minimum. Let webpages and cloud services do the talking.

Also, I would venture to guess that by the time many people actually do get through to an agent, it's because they have been frustrated and/or stymied by the enterprise's non-voice customer care resources. So, not only do your agents have to spend valuable time explaining what should have been explained before the call, they are doing so to disgruntled callers.

Gripe, Gripe, Gripe
I'll be honest and tell you that I was hesitant to write this article. I kept thinking, "Doesn't everybody already know this stuff?" However, I reminded myself of how many companies still don't understand good website design and effective social media presence.

It's 2017, and I shouldn't have to put up with a webpage that hasn't been optimized for mobile. There is no excuse for a "404 Page Not Found" alert when you click on a hyperlink. A business without a social media strategy is like a kitchen without a stove. Marketing departments that feel you can't have enough Flash media in your life should be forced to put up with the messes they make.

I recently tweeted about a less than enthusiastic experience at a restaurant. Do you know what the business did? They liked my tweet. No response. No apology. They liked it. Clearly, their social media strategy is completely off-base.

Now, if an old guy like me finds fault with how my tweets are responded to, imagine how tech-savvy millennials would react. Much more so than I, they are tuned into the blunders of lousy social media interactions. While I simply grumbled, they would be telling their friends, their friends' friends, and anyone who knows how to click on a hashtag.

What's a Fellow to Do?
Did you read my article "Once a Call Flow, Now a Workflow?" If not, you really need to. In it, I discuss how the notion of tracking communications has evolved from a simple telephone call, to a more holistic way of looking at a consumer's actions. Was the customer on your website? Did he or she put something into the shopping cart? Is this the first time or the third time he or she called about a particular issue?

That's exactly what must occur here. Businesses need to take a much deeper look at how they deliver customer care. While automating or programmatically enhancing workflows is the ultimate goal, it begins with understanding and charting customer behavior. If you don't know how your customers will find and interact with you, there is no way that you can deliver a superior experience.

Does this mean that the activity that occurred inside the webpage should be visible to an IVR (Interactive Voice Response)? Absolutely. Does a contact center agent need to know that the caller is active on the company's Facebook page? Again, yes. Do tweets matter when it comes to prioritizing an interaction? Of course they do.

In short, no point of contact should be treated as an island. Data from one must be available to all.

Mischief Managed
While nearly everything in our modern life is rooted in some form of technology, the human experience is still the holy grail of customer care. You can throw bits and bytes at a problem all day long, but until you see things from the point of view of the consumer, you will always fall far short of your goals.

There are a lot of great customer experiences out there, and they are all backed by the right technology, the right design, and the right intentions. Sadly, there are still too many folks who just don't get it. Borrowing from the TSA, "If you see something, say something." I am not afraid to tell a business that their webpage sucks, their IVR unit is awful, or their Facebook page is worthless. If we were to all do that (in a kind and gentle way, of course), 404s and improperly liked tweets will become relics of the past.

Learn more about contact center/customer experience trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2017, March 27 to 30, in Orlando, Fla. View the Contact Center track, and register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.

Andrew Prokop writes about all things unified communications on his popular blog, SIP Adventures.

Follow Andrew Prokop on Twitter and LinkedIn!
@ajprokop
Andrew Prokop on LinkedIn





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.