Latest blog posts from Synthetix
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Time, what an interesting and both terrifying concept. Rockstar physicists like Einstein and Sean Carroll had some interesting theories about the fabric of time, however time is something we appear to have less of. Time has become a pricey commodity.
No-one likes waiting. Untimely responses to customer queries are one of the hallmarks of poor customer service and precious time wasted.
It’s no surprise that respondents in a recent study by CMO Council /SAP Hybris showed that speedy and accurate responses was considered the most important attribute of customer experiences.
We can’t hand you the keys to the DeLorean that offer second chances on improving bad customer experiences. We can however, offer some advice to get ‘back to a bright future’ filled with delightful customer experiences.
With time of the essence, web self-service can be a powerful channel to enhance speedy, yet accurate answers to queries. It’s shocking how many businesses are yet to invest in this channel and the vast amount of contact centres that still rely on legacy systems (from sticky notes to manuals).
Having knowledge at the heart of your business; integrating knowledge across your website and within the contact centre will empower both contact centre agents and customers to get accurate responses quickly.
An agent knowledge-base will ensure that contact centre agents have access to up-to-date information at their fingertips, whether they are assisting customers via live chat, over the phone or email. Utilising a Natural Language Processing Engine, each key press triggers a search for the most relevant answer/s to a question.
And on your website the knowledge-base will ensure frequently asked questions can be answered quickly and consistently. The analytics of the FAQ self-service tool delivers valuable insights into trends, as the knowledge of knowing what customers are searching for will allow businesses to predict what they might ask next.
Wrestling with complex interactions and static budgets, web self-service can save time, enhance customer satisfaction, and save money. What’s not to like?
Below are some links to whitepapers and infographics which will allow you to discover some of the powerful benefits you might be missing by not investing in self-service.
SIM scores predicting sink or swim for those within the water industry?
It’s not just the global weather causing a storm of reactions this week.
The BBC today reported that the number of phone complaints to UK water companies to resolve water issues, went up by more than 40,000, although the written complaint numbers fell by 11% to less than 100,000.
The complaints body, the Consumer Council for Water that conducted the research, says that the water industry needs to work harder to improve. However, the UK Institute of Customer Service reports that the utility sector had the most improved customer satisfaction scores above any other industry in the UK. The UK Customer Satisfaction Index shows that customers are more satisfied with the utilities sector than they have been in over nine years. And water organisations scored higher than energy businesses.
Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) scores introduced by Ofwat, to provide a robust comparable measure of consumers' experience and how satisfied they are with the overall handling of their recent contact with their supplier, are an interesting read, especially when dealing with complaints. It states that customers tended to be significantly more satisfied with the handling of billing enquiries than either clean or waste water queries and that customers who contacted their water company online were more positive than those using other channels, particularly letter or email.
Why is it then that the picture looks a little skewed? What’s really happening within the water industry? Is it merely a case of ‘good news doesn’t sell so well’ or is there something more to it?
Delivering a high quality round-the-clock customer service isn’t easy within any industry. Customers expect to contact companies when they want and through a channel of their choice. The water industry faces another challenge though. Water supply and sanitation has been a primary logistical challenge since the dawn of civilisation. However, how many of us – there are 66, 269 374 people currently living in the UK - spare a thought to the privilege of sanitation and fresh water before we open a tap or flush?
Most of the 18 water suppliers in the UK have invested in technology across new channels to help address customer queries in optimal time. Yorkshire Water pointed out that not all customer calls are complaints, and that it recently introduced a call-back service where customers can book 10-minute-long appointment slots instead of waiting on hold, or can contact the company over Facebook or Twitter.
With comments on the BBC article drowning water companies in more bad light, what considerations could be made to enhance their customer service delivery strategy?
Technology in place to support contact centre staff:
- Will customers calling out-of-hours receive a poorer quality of customer service and is there another channel by which they could answer their queries?
- Are all contact centre staff up-to-date with the latest information and how is this maintained through technology?
- When staff shifts change, does it affect the transfer of knowledge – how is this communicated?
Out of office customer enquiries:
- Should phone lines only be open 8 hours per day – are customers able to self-serve answers to their questions quickly and easily through the website or other channels?
The most effective/popular/convenient contact channels for customers:
- The contact centre is only one contact channel available for customers – dependent on the nature of the enquiry, would it benefit the company and customers to handle enquiries across other channels like live chat, a virtual agent/chatbot or social platforms?
Customer feedback and complaints:
- Quickly and efficiently responding across contact channels to customer queries is key - is there a mechanism in place to monitor customer feedback to improve the quality of products and services and level of response in the future?
- Ofwat scores satisfaction high if a customer’s query is resolved or not considered to be a complaint.
Customers are exercising their power to switch to competitors when they are not happy with the service they receive, however unless you’re a business customer, switching your water and/or sewerage supplier is not yet possible. However, it is good to know that water companies are taking customer service seriously and are making efforts to improve.
Synthetix has collaborated with the trusted brand Wiley to share some insights into multi-channel online customer service delivery in the mission to deliver omni-channel customer experiences. Download or request your copy here >> http://www.synthetix.com/resources/multi-channel-online-cs-for-dummies
The sheer number companies that have invested in bots as a new channel for customer service has the industry in a frenzy, comparing it to the likes of the goldrush. This is intriguing, as brands are not usually so quick and willing to experiment with customer engagement through a new channel.
Facebook reports that more than 33,000 chatbots have been created on its platform. Respondents in a study by Business Intelligence - when asked which emerging technologies they were using and which they intended to implement – had 80% say that they already use or plan to implement chatbots by 2020. In addition, 42% of participants stated that automation technologies will most improve customer experience within sales, marketing and customer service.
The reason for this may be because basic AI has become such an integral part of our lives. In fact, most people would find it difficult to imagine living without smart devices, informing us of how long it might take to get to work, the weather or what music we might like to hear.
So, with bot technology the ‘golden’ opportunity the industry has been enabling us to do away with web and app communication interfaces, what does this really change and why should you care? Will bots make other customer contact channels redundant and how essential is it to invest in this new framework?
Once gold is found, hundreds of thousands flock together to share in its delights. However, Fool's Gold which invariably appears under the same conditions as gold, has often caused heartbreak with it being mistaken for the precious metal. With every other start-up claiming to be a bot expert, it’s not difficult to get caught up in the hype surrounding AI. But here’s the thing. Although natural language processing refers to one of the methodologies under AI, not all NLP technologies are classed equally. In fact, there are big differences between an intelligent FAQ search engine, chatbots and virtual agents.
Businesses wanting to include this technology in their customer experience strategy might first want to consider not ‘HOW’ to invest, but rather ‘WHY’.
Why not download some gold nuggets (whitepapers) which could help determine if you should invest in bot technology in the first place?
- Why a Virtual Agent is the must-have catalyst for enterprise business transformation
- Artificial Intelligence - The rise of customer experience
- Virtual Agents – To Bot or Not