4 major Customer Care pain points and how to fix them

Adrien Lemaire
Tue, 04/10/2018 - 18:09

By 2020, the main brand distinguisher will be customer care overtaking quality of product and price. Although companies have often perceived customer care as a mandatory cost center, they are now realizing its importance. 80% of companies now rate customer experience as a top strategic objective.

However, changes in customer expectations and market trends make navigating this area very challenging. While striving for premium customer experience, you can encounter multiple pain points. We have partnered with Shep Hyken, International Customer Service and Experience Expert, Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations to review some of the most common customer care issues and our insights to address them. 

I/ Managing Customer Care activity

Customer Care activity must be seen as the foundation of your strategy. This includes using the right tools, processes and strategies to process inquiries efficiently. Some of the most common issues include:

1. Allocating messages efficiently

Without the right organization, processing large volumes of inquiries can quickly become a problem. Messages are coming from multiple channels, with different issues, in different languages… Processing them manually takes a lot of time, increases costs, and ultimately negatively impacts customer satisfaction.

Analyzing your activity to identify according to which criteria you should be routing messages is the first step in overcoming these problems. This could be by language or topic for example.

Re-organizing your teams by expertise instead of by types of of channels you operate on is another major improvement and will help break silos and give you a better organization. You will then be able to automatically route messages based on skills and availability. That way, whether an inquiry comes from e-mail, chat or messaging, you will be sure it will reach the right agent. This will also help to balance the workload in case one channel receives more inquiries than another, resources will be optimized to process them efficiently.


2. Managing peaks of activity

Customer care activity is usually very unequal during the day, forcing you to manually allocate messages. Peaks can also be caused by seasonality (sales, new product launches, Holiday season) or specific events (technical issues, extreme weather events, promotional offers…). 

All these peaks cannot be planned, but specific methods can help anticipate some of them. Relying on hard facts will allow to identify patterns of activity peaks and allocate the right resources to face them. Analyzing volumes of inquiries by time of the day or day of the week can give you insights to forecast peaks. For unexpected peaks, relying on tools integrating live analytics and supervision will allow you to face them more efficiently. For example, a Telecom company facing network failure will be able to prioritize all messages related to this topic over the other ones, to make sure customers get quick answers to this urgent problem.

Managing peaks is a challenge that companies should consider as an opportunity to deliver an excellent customer experience and differentiate themselves from competitors.

3. Improve key KPIs

Customer service departments should closely monitor some key KPIs such as Average Handling Time and First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR). The latter has a major impact on all other KPIs: a study by SQM Group shows that an improvement of 1% in FCR leads to an improvement of 1% in customer satisfaction and a 1% reduction of operating costs.

First Contact Resolution benefits

 

This indicator can be improved in different ways, such as analyzing the cause of repeated requests, making sure the customer problem has been solved at the end of each interaction, and giving agents better access to information.  Agents can also rely on specific tools (reply assistant, spell checking, knowledge base) to reduce their handling time.

"I have a philosophy about KPIs: many companies focus on how long the resolution is, how many interactions are managed per hour, etc. All of them are worthy of consideration, but what really matters is: “Is the customer happy? Is his problem solved?”
Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Customer Service and Experience Expert, Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations

II/ Managing Customer Care teams

After setting up the right processes to manage your activity, you should look to improve your team management. We often hear about customer satisfaction, but agents’ satisfaction is another major area to focus on. Happy agents will be more motivated, bring better answers, ultimately having an impact on customer satisfaction. This will also help reduce turnover, which is a major challenge for contact centers, since their average turnover rate is as high as 30-45%.

study from MetricNet confirms, “Happy agents equals happy customers”: their findings highlight a strong correlation between satisfied agents and satisfied customers. The study also shows that happy agents reduce turnover. The question is how can you make them happy and boast such benefits?

1. Give autonomy while keeping control

Finding the right level of agents’ autonomy is not easy. You do not want them to talk with customers like robots, but you cannot let them do whatever they want. Excellent customer experience means meaningful and personalized interactions, while keeping the company’s consistent voice and bringing quality answers.

It is possible to leave agents a certain level of autonomy. Setting up a framework in which specific initiatives can be taken will empower them and make them feel more valued. Such initiatives can be for example the ability to give a certain amount of refund when they feel it is necessary. With a well defined policy and in-depth training, you will make sure it is only offered when relevant and remains within your pricing policy.

Another way to give more autonomy is to rely on tools like message templates to equip agents with contextualized templates for them to bring quick yet complete answers.

“Hiring the right people and training them is key: teach them what they can do, how far they can go in their initiatives. The concept “One to Say Yes and Two to Say No” is a great way to empower employees: a single agent can say “yes” to a customer, but has to talk about the issue with a manager before saying “no”. With this approach, the experience for both customers and agents improve. 
Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Customer Service and Experience Expert, Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations

 

2. Free up agents’ time

A large amount of agents’ time is dedicated to basic and recurring tasks: looking for customer information across multiple tools, repeating the same answer to a common basic problem, etc. All this time lost means more costs for the company, and declining agent satisfaction. 

Liberating agents’ time allows them to focus on more added value tasks such as upselling. This will be beneficial for the company, who will gain opportunities to generate profit, and for agents, who will spend less time on basic inquiries and will feel more valued. 

Customers now want to complete certains actions in autonomy, encouraging companies to develop self-care solutions. This approach allows customers to complete certain basic actions such as updating their contact detail themselves. This is also why chatbots are used more and more. Microbots, focused on one specific topic, allow customers to get instant answers, 24/7, and liberate agents’ time. 

3. Reducing the need for training

Training agents is another challenge. Using multiple tools requires constant training, involves higher costs, lower staff availability, a longer learning curve and less time to study products and offers. 

To give them the autonomy we mentioned above and employ happier agents, you need them to shift the focus to products and identify areas for which training time can be reduced. Aiming at reducing the number of tools used should also be an objective for any customer care department.

III/ Not knowing enough your Customer

 

72% of consumers expect a customer service agent to know their contact information, product information and service history as soon as they engage with a brand for assisted service.

1. Exploiting available data

At the era of big data, companies have significant volumes of data available about their customers. This can include their personal details, occupation, interests… All companies store large amounts of data, but generating actionable insight from them is much more difficult.

The main thing to remember is how important it is to identify which type of data is valuable for your company and goals. You will then be able to analyze it to improve your strategy and provide a better customer experience. 

"You must use customer data to proactively suggest other products beneficial for the customer. Not taking the opportunity to upsell means you’re not providing the right experience. Of course, you must upsell properly and ethically."
Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Customer Service and Experience Expert, Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations

 

2. Identifying customers

Omni-digital means that customers contact you through various channels, on which they have different identities. For example, the same person may contact you through e-mail with an adress like jon.doe@mail.com and follow up a few hours later with the handle @jon_d. Not being able to detect it is the same person forces you to answer twice to solve the same issue, meaning more time spent and higher costs.

To solve this problem, you should first find the right tools to merge social identities and identify the best channel to answer to customers. Instead of having a view compartmentalized by channels, agents need to get a full overview of the customers' identity and past conversations. This complete view helps agents get all the relevant information and help avoid resolving the same issue multiple times.

Customer Identity

3. Lack of information for agents

Another common problem for customer services is the lack of information. Silos make it difficult to aggregate the data and make sense of it. When dealing with inquiries, agents may not access easily all the customer's information, forcing them to make customers wait and redirect them. According to Forrester, 42% of customer service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to disconnected systems, archaic user interfaces, and multiple applications. This has an impact on customers’ perceived quality of service, and also means that potential profit opportunities are lost.

To facilitate agents accessing information, providing them a 360° view becomes essential. This means accessing both transactional and conversational information when processing inquiries. Integrating your CRM and your Digital Customer Interactions Platform will allow them to access both types of data from a single interface.

4. Get customer feedback

Another essential component of customer knowledge is their feedback about your services and products. Getting to know what customers think is a major opportunity to improve your business. Did you know that 70% of companies that deliver best in class customer experience use customer feedback? However, collecting feedback is a challenge and many companies do not make the effort.

Obviously, social media are important channels to monitor customer feedback. But rather than just monitoring feedback as it comes, companies should actively encourage it. This will ensure you get feedback on a regular basis to make sure you provide the best possible experience. 

This can be as simple as a survey after each interaction. You do not want to ask customers to put in too much effort, surveys should remain quick and easy to complete. For more detailed surveys, incentives can be used to encourage customers.

“Any survey sent to the customer must be short: the time required to fill it in can’t be longer than the interaction it is based on. Short surveys will get higher response rates, but you have to find the right question. 

You should always do something with this feedback: if you have a bad score, you should reach out to customers to learn how to improve the experience. If you have a great score, you should also understand why you got it, and find what would make the experience even greater.”

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Customer Service and Experience Expert, Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations

IV/ Inability to develop a Customer Care ecosystem

 

1. Synchronizing data

Digital Customer Care requires to use a wide range of tools daily: CRM, Digital Customer Interactions Platform, reporting tools, call solution... All of them gather a lot of key complementary data. When all these tools are independent from one another, the information does not circulate and silos generate redundant obsolete data that cannot be organized or synchronized.

To face this data expansion, being able to synchronise these tools is a new major challenge for companies. Connecting customer care tools through an open platform allows you to synchronise data from multiple sources, leading to an improved customer experience. 

2. Making channels connection reliable

External channels such as Messenger and Instagram are regularly updating their APIs. Connecting directly to these channels or using a versioned software can lead to reception issues, making you miss important messages or send delayed replies.

To avoid these kind of issues that can cause customers’ dissatisfaction, companies should rely on partners keeping their connectors constantly updated, with a team able to react quickly in case of any issue.

Channels Connection

3. Adapting to new customer care channels

Keeping up with all the new channels available to companies is challenging: you need to adapt to their tech specificities, train your teams… Like Messenger did in 2016, other messaging channels are set on adapting to customer care: WhatsApp, iMessage with Business Chat… 

"Whatever the channel, customers just reach out to you: all they want to do is contact you easily, on their own terms. Regardless of the channel used, make sure the experience is at the same level than on you best channel. For a retailer for example, the online experience should be as good as the one in stores.”
Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Customer Service and Experience Expert, Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations

 

To be able to integrate these new channels and match your customers’ expectations, you need to rely on a flexible technological partner, and be able to integrate these market trends.

4. Setting up a collaboration between chatbots and agents

Chatbots are one of the major customer care trends. As we have explained, they can be used for specific, basic requests to bring instant answers. However, a chatbot will never have answers to all questions. To avoid a downfall of customer experience, chatbots should always be setup with a possible handover to an agent. That way, when it can no longer answer, an agent can take over the conversation and bring relevant answers.

To do so, you should develop a specific perimeter for chatbots that will be clear to customers. An open platform will then allow you to setup the handover when necessary.

 

Knowing that 82% of customers stopped doing business with a company after a bad experience, this topic should be a priority for any organization. Delivering an outstanding customer experience is a powerful way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and will surely positively impact your entire business. To overcome the obstacles we have touched on, you should rely on an advanced platform helping you to optimize your activity, adapt to market changes and connect with other tools. That way, you will be able to adapt to customers' changing expectations and maintain a high quality customer service.

About the author

Profile picture for user adrien
Adrien Lemaire Content Manager

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