Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

How the Cloud Can Inspire Loyalty Across Customer Interaction Channels

October 23, 2017

Not long ago, customers that needed to speak with a company sales or service representative had two choices: physically go to their location (in the case of retail, utilities or service businesses) or call a 1-800 number. If the customer had a positive and consistent experience with the company and its representatives, they would probably remain loyal. It really wasn’t that complicated.

Now, companies have a multitude of interaction channels to manage – voice, web, mobile app, chat, social, SMS, IoT devices and more. Even worse, competition has made it increasingly easy for customers to switch their loyalty.

As consultants, resellers and integrators, it’s our job to help our clients evaluate their entire universe of communication channels and create a consistent customer experience across these channels. This is critical to protect a company’s brand and maintain a loyal customer base.

The Challenge of Connectivity

Connecting all these emerging channels and existing IT systems together can be a challenge. Luckily, the cloud is making connectivity and consistency more accessible for companies of all sizes. What’s more: companies leveraging cloud-based systems are gaining a unified view of how customers move across online, offline, digital and voice interaction channels. That helps companies improve overall business processes and how they define customer satisfaction.

And, cloud is now widely accepted, so companies that aren’t considering some type of cloud architecture may find themselves falling behind those that have already made the shift. With more flexibility and access to valuable insights and reports, cloud’s popularity cannot be contained. In 2018, adoption is expected to reach 82 percent.

Begin Transforming Business Practices With Callback

Customer service is a top area of competition because loyal customers are brand promoters and heavy users of a product. What companies face today is figuring out how a customer that jumps from channel to channel can receive excellent service.

Before the cloud era, hardware and software investments ensured a contact center had the tools to best serve customers. All this infrastructure would be installed and maintained on premises. When a new channel was added or more capacity was needed, it usually required substantial new equipment and space, as well as changes to agent scheduling to address the volume of inquiries.

Cloud-based contact centers reduce commitments to large infrastructure investments. Instead, the hardware and software needed to operate a contact center is hosted off-premises with a third party. In other words, installation and maintenance is largely relegated to others.

What most companies view as a major benefit of the cloud is an ability to rapidly adopt new software applications and connect disparate applications. The “Call Me” option is one capability having a major impact when connecting channels. This single feature allows customers to request an agent callback from any channel.

Once requested, customers are given a wait time and put into a virtual queue that’s visible to customer service agents, but doesn’t require customers to wait on hold. When an agent becomes available, customers then receive a return call. Their estimated wait time can be provided, or the customer can schedule a return call at a time convenient for them.

What’s valuable about this capability is how it creates cohesion in a multichannel environment. Whether a customer is in a mobile app or searching through a website, the option to speak with a live agent is available without being on hold, or at a time that works best for them.

Customers appreciate callback because it signals that their issues will be resolved personally and in a timely manner. In other words, their schedule and time is respected. Cloud-based callback also provides business perks, which includes better managing an unexpected influx of calls, decreasing abandon rates and improving average speed to answer.

What has remained an issue until now is that behavioral data did not move with the customer. A customer that posted on a brand’s Twitter account, jumped over to an FAQ, and then searched an app would request a callback from an agent who wasn’t aware of those previous activities.

When a customer has already searched across channels, any extra work on their part to share their inquiry details can be a hit to loyalty. It’s easy to understand why customers leave a live interaction thinking less of a company: They’re repeating information or hearing details they already know. Companies needed a way to reduce the friction of channel hopping.

Making Connections Beyond The Call

Today, a callback request can easily be enhanced with details beyond the request thanks to the cloud. By linking together digital and voice channels, companies gain a multichannel view of the customer’s entire journey.

As an add-on to cloud-based callback, the bridge between digital and voice channels provides details about a customer’s online behaviors. When they jump from one channel to the next, any data associated with their activities can be captured and delivered to an agent.

In the hands of customer service, this information empowers the agent to provide assistance based on what steps the customer has already taken. For instance, knowing how long someone has been in an app or what pages they’ve visited provides valuable, personalized information that can increase the speed of issue resolution. These insights also help to enhance the experience of digital channels, providing visibility into problem areas where content may need to be edited or page layout changed.

The cloud is changing how companies interact with their customers. A major benefit is simplifying the adoption of new software applications that add value to the customer experience. By offering a callback and linking digital to voice channels, companies can aggregate previously siloed segments of data and analyze them in real time. This creates a true view of a customer’s path to resolution that takes into consideration all the channels in use, whether it’s the web, mobile, chat, call center or another method. And from the customer’s perspective, it provides a more consistent experience with the added benefit of reaching an informed agent in a way that respects the customer’s time.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz