Technology-Enabled Service Excellence

Take a tour of high performance tools that can put you on the path to consistent service excellence.

Brian Hinton
Lori Fraser

Your customers want the right information and issue resolution, no matter who takes their calls. You want to boost customer loyalty through the service you provide. Everyone wants a consistent standard of care to streamline communication and reduce interaction time, delivering better service to the customer and lowering costs to the company. And if you have compliance requirements for your contacts, you most certainly want to avoid regulatory fees by ensuring the right things happen on each call.

Sound like a tall order to meet all these wants? It can be if your most powerful “tools” are process design, classroom training and coaching. If that is the case, the road to consistent service excellence can seem mighty winding and awfully long. You need some high-performance capabilities to give you a better vehicle to navigate this road.

Though it’s not a substitute for well-defined processes and well-executed staff development, technology is the great enabler of consistent service excellence. It helps you present standard messages at agent desktops, identify opportunities for process improvement and training, monitor and reinforce adherence, and close the loop with customers to get their perspective on the messages they receive (see Figure 1). Climb aboard our technology tour to see if your journey might get a whole lot easier.

Standardize the Message

Defining standard messages and making them available to agents and customers is the first stop on the road to consistent communication. Consider whether scripting applications, customer relationship management (CRM) or knowledge management (KM) systems can give you a performance edge.

According to research group Contact Babel, 62% of organizations use scripting applications to standardize customer communication. For health care, financial services, utilities and other regulated industries, scripts help agents stick to the letter of the law when collecting customer data and providing information. Where very specific language is required, “smart” scripts may trigger prerecorded messages, during the workflow or at the end of the call, often delivered via IVR.

For others, scripting provides an efficient means to complete a prescribed transaction — for an opinion poll, an 800-number order or a product recall. The context governs whether the script is a guidepost for dialog or a rigid, word-for-word agenda. In either case, scripts get the best result when CSRs learn to deliver their “lines” in a natural, conversational tone.

If you support a diverse customer base that interacts with multiple touchpoints within your organization, you’ll need a bigger engine on the drive to consistent excellence. A CRM system and the associated processes can help all of your employees speak with one voice as they interact with customers. Contact history can equip agents to pick up conversations where their predecessors left off, eliminating the need for customers to repeat their issues or inquiries.

You can incorporate scripts into workflows to speed transaction processing and point to opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling based on customer profiles. Workflows can also require agents to confirm message delivery, reinforcing the company’s focus on consistency, thoroughness and compliance.

Figure 1: Excellent service requires an integrated approach across people and processes, enabled by technology.

If your agents deal with a broad spectrum of customer queries for which multiple resources house the answers, consider KM systems and processes. This technology uses sophisticated search algorithms to mine existing databases, data directories, CRM systems, intranet sites and other Web resources to provide responses to natural language inquiries.

Its capacity to provide standard responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) enhances agent interactions with customers while also enabling self-service. Scripted answers can offer alternatives or suggest additional content. And KM creates the opportunity for frontline CSRs to add to the knowledge base as they resolve issues.

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