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Earlier this week we were really excited to host the latest in our series of webinars helping businesses to plan for customer service of the future.  With so much dramatic change in the way that consumers use technology and want to interact with the services they consume it will no longer be sufficient to view the contact centre as a cost centre and just ‘wait for the phone to ring’.

Martin Hill-WilsonKicking off the webinar we were very lucky to have industry expert Martin Hill-Wilson.  Martin spends much of his time working with some of the largest contact centres in the UK, advising them on strategy and learning what new demands are being placed on them.  Martin often runs a three day workshop on next generation customer service, and he attempted to distil that into 20 minutes for our listeners!

Martin opened up with a poll.  ”Have you got a customer service strategy – in the form of a document that others can read?”

The results were 47% Yes and 53% No.  Whilst this might not look encouraging with over half not having a defined strategy, Martin sees this as a massive improvement from the same question asked a few years back when 10% was the norm.

With that in mind, Martin starts to run through 10 challenging ideas for companies to investigate and perhaps adopt to be at the forefront of next generation customer service.  You can see the full list by downloading the webinar, but we’ll pick out a few that we loved here on the blog.

The Heart

Customer Service is about empathising with your customers and understanding how they will want to interact with you in the future – irrespective of budget, labour, location or technology constraints.  Do not start with your company and work outwards – start with your customer and work inwards.

The Head

We hear this a lot at the moment! Businesses need to re-frame their Customer Service departments as value creators and not cost centres.  By deriving insight from customers that can go back into product development, or extending the lifecycle of a customer significant value can be created.  This is an internal issue so should be simple if it is really believed by the Executive.

The Menu

Over the last two decades there has been very little development in personalised experiences – really we have just used skill based routing which doesn’t really cut it!  In the future businesses should be looking at all the data available to them – in their CRM system, on social networks, or the recent call activity of a customer and should use these to drive personalised experience.

Martin discusses Customer Effort routing – if a customer calls in a large number of times in a month they are obviously having problems and should be routed to a priority queue to ensure they get resolved and are happy.  As Martin says, “A huge amount of experimentation is now possible. Get on with it!”

The Players

If you’ve understood The Heart and you know what kind of customer service you want to deliver, then you need to back that up with the right people.  Today people that work in contact centres tend to get paid 34% below the national average and attrition rates are between 20 and 30%.  ”That speaks volumes” says Martin.  If you really believe in Customer Services as a value creating department then you need to recruit and train the best people.

The Kudos

Next Generation Customer Service Whitepaper

Customer Service teams have to move beyond industry awards.  They need to become marketers of their own success and their strategic importance to the business.  The rise of internal social networks like Chatter and Yammer can help to do this.  Let the rest of the business know how you are saving specific customers and expanding accounts.  Be proud of what you do.

The Sequel

Martin finishes by giving everyone a fright – “next generation” is passé even before we’ve reached it!  Customer Services teams need to be thinking beyond next generation, into the world of mobile apps, of social search, of big data and try to understand how customers will want to interact in the future. “Queuing is out” says Martin.  The pace of innovation is increasing and the winners will be those that move fastest.

For the full presentation, followed by excellent sessions from Stuart Croft of Salesforce and Paul Turner, COO of NewVoiceMedia just download the webinar.  Martin has also put together a whitepaper on next generation customer service which you can download here.

Do you have a next generation strategy?  Which of Martin’s points are you looking at deploying?  We’d love to hear your comments below!

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About Charlie Cowan

Charlie is passionate about cloud computing and how it can help real businesses to run more profitably.

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