Secrets to Success in Modern Day Customer Service Management

When a customer has a complaint that they feel strongly about, your organization will hear about it eventually. Imagine being one of the people at Blackberry when their entire network collapsed or when Netflix decided to jump their fees. I am certain you can understand the issues those customer service management teams had in those instances. No business ever wants to be in their shoes. The goal of customer service and customer relationship management (not entirely the same thing) is to ensure that customers are happy. Their other job is to make sure that everyone else has all the information and tools required to handle the needs of customers.

Misusing information, being disorganized and hostile to customers and their needs is a guaranteed way to make it an uphill task to handle them effectively. When a customer comes to your organization with a complaint, it is important to find an adequate solution quickly - before it becomes the news of the day on Twitter! Prevent escalations when interacting with a customer and ensure that old cases do not become a thorn in your side yet again. Provide the correct resolutions to problems, share additional information than what is requested, build rapport and agents might find opportunities to up-sell/ cross-sell to the pleased customer.

When all else fails, listen!
When customers call the contact center about a problem or request, they can often be very heated and upset. This is understandable from their point of view. Many situations can be handled and easily defused if you simply use your listening skills and do not mentally filter their conversation to jump to conclusions. They may just have something to get off of their chest and you are going to be that sounding board. Customers may ask questions you shouldn’t answer or may even get in to personal details, but your ability to simply listen will satisfy a majority of them. Once they are happy and satisfied that you care enough to listen, they are more likely to be easily satiated with whatever problem they are having.

After ending or during a call, it is important to update the customer’s details by adding an appropriate disposition and category for a case or request and describing their temperament for the next person who might take a call. Creating open or closed activities related to the customer’s conversation, ensures they have more confidence in your organization if details are requested for their interaction history.

Share Customer Details across the board
Escalation of claims and reopening of cases happens when information is not shared. Customers get irritated over their information not being in the system or easily accessible. The solution is to make sure you have a CRM program in place that automatically generates and sends this information to every person along the line of communication which the customer may speak to at any given time. If there is a question then everyone will know what happened at what stage and who handled it.

CRM systems and sevice management solution ensure collaborations are enhanced through automated alerts, escalations and assignments. Visibility for records can be configured to ensure records are secure, yet available for all stake holders.

Eliminate Time Limits
One of the greatest failures that customer service makes is limiting how long an agent can remain on a call to increase cost-effectiveness. The agent is timed and asked to keep calls to a minimum time limit and then shuffle the call to someone else. If they fail to do this, they get into trouble because the turnaround on calls suffers. This causes agents to rush through an issue with a customer, thereby causing an escalation. In addition, it can also lead to mistakes which can result in the case being reopened

An effective CRM implementation ensures the agents’ interface is easy-to-use and creating, accessing or updating customer information is quick. Viewing a customer’s details securely and promptly with automated alerts for help and validations ensures lower call durations and more opportunities to build rapport.

Too many cooks..
Take a look at the customer service reps in your call centre. Look at how many of them may handle a single customer’s case. If a customer has to talk to more than one person then you are overburdening them with 'hold time' and making them repeat the complaint. It is this impersonal “just a customer ID” thinking that gets customers upset or irate, the probability increases for escalations.

When a customer shares a complaint, use the service management solution of the CRM software to assign them to an agent that specializes in their product or service. Allow the agents to give out their specific extensions and working hours, this will give a personalized touch and customers will feel that their cases matter. A CRM solution ensures other users within the same specialized team have access to the record and its related activities, when faced with attrition this ensures continuity and efficiency.

Empower CRM users
There are several ways to empower your CRM staff. One of which is encouraging them to continue doing a good job, but that’s not what I mean by 'empower' (though encouragement is not a bad thing). Your customer service staff needs to be able to handle a situation from beginning to end. The only way to do this is by empowering them with the ability to correct the situation - be it free shipping, replacement or whatever it is the customer wants. Give them authorization to make things right within reason. If a customer wants something different, then a manager should their final approval.

An effective service management solution facilitates automated responses with customized templates, tracking of approval requests and a centralized solutions database. Additionally, cases or requests can be created, updated and viewed on the go by any web enabled device, allowing senior management to analyze real-time information and pin point bottlenecks.

Customers have a need to be heard and feel like their business is important for your organization. In other words, they do not want to be just another customer ID. Ensure all details of a customer’s case or request are captured accurately using service management solution, share the record with all stakeholders in real-time to avoid failures in keeping SLAs and decreasing escalations. If cases are assigned to the correct users instantly and the solution provided is accurate, the chances of reopened cases are minimal. A positive experience will increase customer loyalty and negate churn.

Michael Klass

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