Interview with John Hooper,
SVP Business Development and Client Relations, HGS
This article first appeared in the Fall edition of On Board magazine and is reproduced here with permission.
- What trends are you seeing in the world of customer service?
Interacting with our customers we see two major shifts in providing a great customer experience. First, consumers want to easily interact with a company in the method they choose, be that phone, chat, email, mobile app, etc.
Secondly, many consumers want to self-serve to complete their transactions. Think about the last time you booked an airline ticket or placed an order for a product. Chances are you completed those transactions online. What we see anecdotally is also borne out in the research. Self-service platforms are gaining in popularity because they allow consumers to take control of solving their own problem. According to the January 2014, McKinsey Quarterly, 75% of surveyed consumers said they would prefer to use online support if it were reliable and provided accurate and complete information.
- Don’t customers want to talk to “a real person”?
The self-service trend doesn’t mean the end of voice service. There will always be unusual, non-routine transactions that will require speaking to a knowledgeable person who can guide consumers through the process and help them accomplish their goals quickly with minimal effort. According to a recent survey by Execs in the Know, 82% of consumers ranked “Getting my issues resolved quickly” as the top element of a great online experience. The main question is, how do companies ensure their service representatives have the level of knowledge necessary to resolve questions quickly, especially in businesses like technology and telecommunications where products and services are often complex? One solution involves having comprehensive and highly intelligent knowledge bases with robust search functionality. More importantly, these knowledge bases need to be integrated with multiple channels such as click-to-chat, CRM and email and the ability to update content must occur automatically in real-time.
- Is there a right way to approach the digital revolution in customer service?
What we often see is companies implementing digital customer service solutions in a piece-meal fashion rather than holistically, which creates its own challenges. In the example of knowledge bases that I talked about earlier, a business can have the best knowledge base technology and content, but if it’s not widely accessible across the enterprise, leveraged for self-service use by consumers, available in the languages consumers require, integrated with a click-to-chat option and integrated with CRM and analytics technologies, the complete customer experience will fall short.
If a company is serious about digital transformation as a means to achieving a customer-centric culture, it is helpful to have a third party act as the change agent. Working together, we can identify an end state of what is required and from there we can reverse engineer the proper solution to ensure a scalable, effective digital solution. If done properly, transformation doesn’t have to be expensive; rather it can save costs and improve revenue from sales. Using an experienced partner that understands how to combine the proper technologies, processes and people can go a long way toward ensuring the success of a digital transformation initiative that meets consumers’ needs consistently and effectively.