Don’t forget your customers

I stated it before. Focus on the results desired by the customer and the experience created. Deliver this at acceptable costs for the customer and be aware of the customer’s channel costs. This post has a similar approach for contact centers

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Artist: Ilana Kohn http://ilanakohn.com/

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During tough times, we are all asked to take a close look at the bottom line.

However, cost-cutting alone won’t by itself see an organisation survive the downturn in a healthy state.

What’s also needed is a customer strategy. If customers feel that money is being saved at the expense of service standards then they could soon be heading for the exit door – making the impact of recession ten times worse.

So how can companies cut costs while retaining a focus on customer satisfaction?

Here are a few ideas:

1. Cut Wastage

Examine customer-facing and back office business areas and streamline all operations to cut wasted time. The time saved will equate to cost savings and better bottom line performance. It could also lead to improved service quality and more rapid time to answer.

2. Eliminate Unnecessary Calls

Look at why customers are calling and try to eradicate the common root causes of unnecessary calls. Not only will call elimination benefit your bottom line but, if your customers are calling less, it could also boost customer satisfaction.

3. Make The Most of What You’ve Got

Maximise opportunities with your existing (people and technology) resources. Sometimes you can be too close to your own operations to see what might be obvious to others. How about getting a trusted supplier to look at your business with a fresh pair of eyes?

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4. Deliver Holistic Customer Management

Do your customer care, telesales, collections and service departments look at customers in a co-ordinated way, or do they have separate strategies and maintain separate customer records? By bringing strategies and records together, companies can more effectively manage the ‘customer lifecycle’ – helping spot opportunities to upsell and cross sell, incentivise customers at particular points along the ‘customer journey’, and improve service levels

5. Recognise the Value of Data

The customer contact centre is often a company’s most valuable source of customer data – yet many organisations are failing to make the most of it. That can be remedied by taking advantage of the richness of today’s analytical and reporting tools – from Datamart (data consolidation and analysis) solutions, to MI reporting and speech analytics tools. Not only can customer service operators access near-real-time feedback on what their customers are saying and doing, but they can also do so in an automated way – saving valuable management time and money.

6. Future-proof your technology

Make sure whatever you invest in today is future-ready. See if there are realistic ways to make your current infrastructure ready – and if not, take the time to determine what your ‘go forward’ strategy is. You might be surprised that newer technologies often have lower install and maintenance costs – as well as enabling higher customer service – thus providing an unquestionable ROI even in a tough economy.

7. Extend customer service beyond your contact centre

When contact centre advisors aren’t able to answer a particular customer query it’s important that they can rapidly access knowledge experts outside the contact centre in order to maintain service standards. That calls for unified technology solutions – and technology that supports ‘presence’, enabling advisors to see what experts, with what skills, are available at any point in time.

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8. Ensure your contact centre operations are unified

If customers look at your organisation as a single entity then it’s important that your customer contact centres operate as a single entity too. Regardless of how far apart your offices and buildings are, ensure that you have modern technology solutions that can unify all your customer contact points, CRM systems and management reporting – ensuring that calls are answered promptly, by advisors with the right skills, and up-to-date information, wherever they happen to be located.

9. Check the financial stability of your partners

Especially during the current recessionary times. The consequences of being tied into a failing vendor for upgrades and support could have dire consequences.

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//ilanakohn.com/
Artist: Ilana Kohn http://ilanakohn.com/