Elevating customer satisfaction and growth

In the shifting customer-care landscape, where every interaction has the potential to cement or sever a customer relationship, the need to transition to a more holistic approach to customer engagement is critical. However, over the past decade, companies have struggled to calibrate their strategy for customer engagement through service channels. Some organizations have taken a “sales at all costs” approach, ultimately resulting in discontent customers and unethical selling behavior, while others focused solely on customer service and satisfaction, thus missing out on opportunities to foster relationships and growth.

McKinsey defines the comprehensive approach to omnichannel customer engagement as service to solutions—in effect going from reactive, siloed customer care to a proactive, consultative approach to customer engagement. At its core, this approach involves identifying customers’ needs and offering solutions to provide better customer experiences. Collectively, service to solutions enables companies to improve customer satisfaction via tailored solutions, hence boosting customer lifetime value and increasing consumption of existing and new services.

Making this transition to a proactive omnichannel view of the customer relationship can pay huge dividends, but companies must overcome a range of significant barriers by focusing on three primary areas—frontline management and skills, customers and offers, and technology. A closer examination of these areas can assist companies in developing and honing their road maps to more effective customer care and the additional value it can create.

Why service to solutions matters—to both companies and customers

It is not newsworthy that digital-care channels are proliferating, company-customer interactions are increasing in volume, and the pace of these changes is accelerating. The smartphone in your hand or a glance at social media reinforces these trends. What is more notable is that over the past 15 years, companies have been struggling to calibrate their approach to sales through service channels. More recently, the customer-care landscape has been shaped by several trends.

Elevating engagement at every touchpoint

Digital leaders such as Amazon and Apple, with their ability to personalize and tailor customer engagement across touchpoints, have raised the bar not just in their industries, but for all industries. Their impact has been amplified by the fact that the advent of same-day delivery, Apple’s Genius Bars, and analytics-generated recommendations of products and services are all part of a rich customer experience that extends across physical and online channels, including the contact center. As a result, consumers now expect personalized interactions and emotional connectivity across channels, including service-center agents. Organizations that aren’t thinking about ways to improve loyalty and customer experience at every touchpoint are ceding ground to the competition.

This challenge to personalize is made all the more daunting because companies are also facing increased pressure to cut overall costs while maintaining service levels and enhancing the experience. For example, some US banks and telecommunication companies are engaged in branch consolidation efforts—a strategy that places an added burden on the contact center as the primary customer touchpoint and a potential revenue generator. A strategy that enhances customer care and deepens engagement, effectively shifting customer care from a cost center to a profit center, is essential.

The rise of the machines (remote care)

Customers are increasingly comfortable with remote service and advice and as such expect the remote channel experience to provide more than simple services or transactions. Meanwhile, technological advancements have enabled companies to offer more powerful solutions through online channels. For example, Betterment, an online investment adviser, provides financial planning and advisory through online channels with features such as unlimited, around-the-clock expert advice. Whereas a generation ago consumers may have been reluctant to entrust remote advisers with their financial decisions, customers today are not only more comfortable with online channels but also expect engagement levels similar to that of physical channels.

Supporting the customer journey

Two years ago—an eternity in customer care—the customer journey was not a guiding factor in service and engagement strategies. Companies sought to optimize contact in individual channels, but these activities were typically undertaken in isolation. Two years from now, agents will use the entire customer journey—initial contact, purchases, other channel touchpoints, pain points, and any other relevant information—as the foundation for engagement. The omnichannel environment enables companies to construct a complete, detailed view of each customer to inform seamless and consistent customer interactions. Technological advances will also enable better integration across customer relationship management (CRM) systems and platforms, assisted agent tools, and live sentiment analysis.

Companies will also have to consider how they draw on this information to empower agents when they are on the verge of obtaining this end-to-end customer view. Without proper training and support, agents won’t be able to harness this wealth of information to provide better customer care.

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