I recently contacted my bank to inform them that I will be making a large transaction and to put a notice on my profile in order to ensure the transaction was successfully completed. I contacted the bank's Contact Center and it quickly became clear that the agent was experiencing some problems with the request.
During our conversation, she had to ask me for more information than was absolutely required and ultimately could not help me because her system would not allow her to proceed and she recommended that I visit my branch.
Obviously, I did not get a resolution to my request, and walked away from the interaction feeling disappointed and unengaged. Capturing a notification to a customer’s profile is a simple act and should be available in any channel. A customer should not be forced to the branch in order to add a notification. Furthermore, having the right tools to serve customers appropriately ensures swift, consistent, cost efficient and customer centric service in the channel of choice for both the customer and the agent.
Many customer service professionals believe their teams are immune to this type of unsatisfactory performance. Their inside perspective mitigates their ability to see the weak spots in their service strategies.
Before you count yourself among those who can’t identify room for improvement, consider this:
This fall, a disgruntled customer of Apple (a brand best known for delivering optimal customer experience) walked into an Apple store in France after receiving poor customer service and support. He showed his anger by destroying thousands of Euros’ worth of products with a metal ball. While this may be an extreme example, it showcases the immense frustration and powerlessness many customers feel when they receive subpar service from companies whose products and services they have spent money on.
When customer dissatisfaction escalates, it is often due to a business’ failure to prioritize or consider the customer experience implications. Situations such as what I encountered stem from oversights and create additional burdens for the service agents left to do damage control and create additional costs for the institution. Because customer service representatives are the face of the bank when self-service fails, organizations can begin to improve their service strategies by focusing on the support and infrastructure afforded to these key players.
Invest in a streamlined, omnichannel system
During the call with my service provider, the agent’s excessive requests for my information were a major turn-off for me as a loyal customer. After all, throughout my relationship with this bank, I had entered data into many channels, many times, and repeating this process feels tedious and impersonal. Customers are happy when agents have the means to see customer history and engagements, not have to toggle between multiple screens, and be able to address the customer’s servicing requests in a streamlined, omnichannel manner. It also empowers the agents to be successful in their roles of advocating and problem-solving for customers – it is a win-win situation.
Furthermore, not being able to serve me in the channel in which I had contacted my bank, and being forced to use another channel in order to begin and complete my initial request, wholly failed the omnichannel strategy of this particular bank – in my opinion.
Increase visibility for - and provide insights to - service agents
At a recent meeting with a specific line of business within a big bank, the institution stressed to me the fact that if they could just have visibility into the status of open cases, then they would be able to achieve their productivity goals, meet customer needs, and increase their NPS scores. If the bank had this extra dose of visibility, they explained, when a customer called regarding his account they would not have to put him on hold, go to someone else’s desk, look through piles of paper, and then get back on the phone and attempt to resolve the issue.
While this simple increase in visibility would undoubtedly benefit this bank by cutting out a frustrating step from the customer experience, it is not the answer to all of the organization’s problems. Upping visibility often leads to saddling overtaxed customer service reps with even more information for them to cut through and decipher. Because of this, agents must also be given more insight and assistance: By providing visibility guided through insights, your agents can drive the interactions through smart conversations, hence delivering better service.
Support agents so they can support customers
One of the most critical links to improving your customers’ experiences is by providing them with great agent engagement. This can only happen when your agents, service, and sales staff are equipped with the robust customer service tools and training they need to do their jobs. It is part of sticking to the brand promise and enabling the next stage of the customer life cycle: If you do not service your customers appropriately in a way that meets your brand’s promise, the customers will not become brand ambassadors, nor will they continue or deepen their relationship with you.
Dumping more data on overtaxed CSRs is not the answer. What is required today to assist agents and front line service providers is insights to better provide service. By providing the right tools and insights, your agents can drive the interactions through smart conversations, hence delivering better service. Lastly, you need connected channels. In today’s world of Uber and being able to watch the progress of your Domino Pizza being made, a banking customer should be able to choose their channel of choice.
To learn more about the role of agent support in improving the customer experience, check out these resources:
- Jim Marous and the Financial Brand discuss the true cost of negative customer experiences.
- Pega’s Two Sides of the Coin webinar unpacks the importance of agent engagement.
- PayPal leaders explain the company’s unique “movie” model of creating a customer-focused, omnichannel experience.
- Pega’s Digital Transformation eBook showcases the concept of proactive vs. reactive customer service.