We live in a world where connectivity rules. We are ardent data consumers, internet surfers, and a ‘mobile’ community. Mobile services, and as a result, communications service providers, have therefore become integral to our lives. With the market being flooded with multiple players, consumers have a multitude of products to choose from. But I am very particular about the products and services I opt for. And for me, like every other consumer, the ‘service experience’ is an important determinant of brand loyalty. So, while choosing a service provider, I seek the one that has a proven track record of consistently delivering superior customer service.
For long, I had been a loyal customer of a leading Indian CSP, but recently switched to another company having gotten fed up with the ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude of the customer service center. The endless call holds, automated IVR responses that were often unrelated to the issue, no response to complaint mails and social media posts – all of it drove me to break such a long association. Well, I moved on, and the service provider lost a long-time loyal customer. All those attractive offers, personalized data plans, and free subscriptions to their music application did little to pacify me, because a bad service experience is a point of no return.
Thanks to the digital media revolution, we are living in a state of immediacy. Today’s customers want their concerns addressed promptly, through their preferred interaction channel, be it a phone call or a social media platform. The quality of service provided through these interaction channels or touch-points is therefore vital to create the brand image. With multiple players offering almost similar products and services, creating a seamless, connected and personalized service experience can be an effective differentiating factor.
How often have we been in situations where we connected with a service provider’s customer care centre only to find ourselves swamped with a barrage of calls, mails, and responses from different agents? In most cases, the turnaround time is unsatisfactory, and the agents have no idea about other parallel communication attempts, often with the same standardized responses all across. This means there is ‘lack of communication in a communications company’ – isn’t it? There seems to exist an invisible barrier which restricts the flow of information across customer service processes. Here’s where a ‘connected customer service’ framework comes to rescue, as it aims to dissolve information barriers, break channel silos, and create a seamless cross-functional system that connects all service touch-points.
In the core of such a framework lies a comprehensive information management system powered by Big Data and advanced analytics. Businesses must acquire or upgrade the necessary skills, processes, and technologies to ensure that customer information from all touch-points is easily accessible across service channels, in real time. Computer telephony integration (CTI), IVR, intelligent call routing, and knowledge management systems need to be tied together to enable seamless service delivery as per customer expectations. In concept, a connected customer service framework should be able to:
• Capture and manage touch-point data effectively
• Integrate with a comprehensive customer database to map customer personas
• Distribute relevant customer data across service channels
• Function effectively in near real-time
Additional features like behavioural and predictive analytics and integrated marketing systems will enhance the efficiency of such a framework. It will give businesses a 360-degree view into customers, allowing them to personalize the service experience to the extent possible.
Let us consider a scenario where a complaint or service request is registered through a service channel (phone, online portal, in-store request, and so on). Now, the connected customer service framework will gather all specifics of the request, map the user identity with the details present in the CRM system, route the request to the most appropriate service channel for response, and update the origination service channel (and all other channels) with relevant information about the case, as it progresses. This will ensure that users receive personalized resolutions to their queries through the fastest resolution point, with some added personalized incentives. Using this data along with the user’s social media footprint, previous interactions, and request or complaint pattern, the CSP can notify the customer regarding upcoming offers and probable solutions to related issues that might arise in the future. In doing this, the company would have not only addressed the issue at hand, but ensured the customer feels
cared for and special, which will strengthen the relationship a tad more.
We believe that given the highly competitive and mature telecom market, CSPs cannot afford to lose customers just because they failed to realize the importance of providing a superior customer experience. Treating customer experience management as a strategic function instead of a tactical activity is the need of the hour. Companies must devise innovative ways to keep their customers engaged if they are to ensure a profitable sustenance in this digital era.