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Customers Want A Human Connection, And Human Connections Are Made In The Contact Center

by Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO, Calabrio - August 21, 2018

Customers Want a Human Connection, and Human Connections are Made in the Contact Center

By: Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO at Calabrio
 
Technology has transformed the way businesses run. To meet increasing customer expectations, many companies are rapidly deploying digital tools in hopes of gaining competitive edge. These tools are changing every department—and the contact center is no exception. A recent survey found that, to support Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected technologies, 23 percent of contact centers are hiring for a different agent skillset, and 67 percent have trained agents differently in order to handle changing customer interactions. However, the effects of quick adoption go beyond hiring and training practices. New technologies and pressures to innovate are impacting the customer journey. 
 
Mastercard’s customers can now check on account transactions via Facebook Messenger bots, while online retailer, Everlane, allows customers to receive order status updates using similar technology. While these non-human options are convenient, these tools alone can’t build customer loyalty. As companies seek new ways to innovate, they must find the right balance between technology and the human touch to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
 
A great product or service is the best way to start building customer loyalty. But  true loyalty is earned by building emotional connections—and it’s all because of human nature. Human nature is how people think, feel and act, and companies can’t underestimate the importance of how customers feel.
 
According to a new report, 74 percent of customers are more loyal to a company when given the option to speak to someone, and 60 percent feel like their voices are heard when they talk to a person. Even in a digital world, building emotional connections starts with listening. And at the heart of listening are the agents in the contact center. 
 
So how do companies find the right balance between leveraging new technology and empowering people to create emotional connections with customers? Here are three ways businesses can equip and empower contact centers to listen, understand and create an experience that keeps customers coming back.
 
Audit the current tech stack
Companies are in a race to adopt new solutions, especially to automate manual or mundane tasks. While it’s always beneficial to be on the lookout for the latest technologies, new deployments don’t address the existing tech stack. By auditing existing solutions, companies can reevaluate the original goals of past implementations and determine if those still apply. Even more importantly, organizations can determine how well existing tools map to the current customer journey and whether those are a source of frustration for customers. If they don’t provide customers a clear path to quickly speak to an agent, it’s likely time for something different. From there, companies can evaluate new technology in the context of the current tech stack and make decisions that enhance the entire customer experience.
 
Utilize speech analytics
Consumers are interacting with companies across a variety of channels. From email to web chat to telephone, every touchpoint is an important part of the customer journey. However, nothing builds emotional connections with customers quite like a phone conversation. Every day, agents speak with customers, and those conversations provide critical insights into what customers want. More importantly, they offer unfettered access into how customers feel.
 
With speech analytics, businesses maximize those conversations across the organization. By translating unstructured data into insights, companies tap into a direct line that allows them to understand customer sentiment and make changes that benefit the bottom line. When coupled with data from other channels, companies can paint a complete picture of the customer along the entire customer journey.
 
Prioritize agent success
Contact center agents are a company’s best chance to create the emotional connections that drive brand loyalty. To be successful, agents must be engaged and motivated—and be treated like the knowledge workers they are. Employee engagement doesn’t come from a script, however; it comes from employees feeling valued and empowered to give customers the experience they want, every single time. And that starts with the right training and tools.
 
Many contact centers have implemented omnichannel strategies, allowing agents to interact with customers in a variety of ways. And the resulting interaction analytics aren’t just for customers, they also offer insight into agent performance. This helps managers identify which agents are most effective, so they can extract best practices and integrate them into training strategies. In addition, when agents have access to consistent feedback, are given the tools and flexibility to efficiently manage their time, and are empowered to empathetically resolve customer complaints, they build the customer loyalty companies crave.
 
Today, companies look to technology as the answer to many of their customer experience challenges. However, organizations must still appeal to human nature, which means technology must be balanced with human empathy and expertise. When businesses empower people in the contact center, customer experience magic happens. By revisiting the current tech stack, digging deeper with speech analytics, and prioritizing agents’ success, they can build emotional connections with customers that ultimately drive brand loyalty. 
 

 
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