Sion LewisSion LewisJuly 5, 2019
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8min1336

Working in a call centre has been seen as the very epitome of the “McJob” – a low-paid, unrewarding role that’s usually viewed as a stepping stone to more responsible, better-paid and more meaningful employment.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Customer service representatives (CSRs) play perhaps the most important role in any organisation. They are a business’ window on the world; the face of the corporation. Great CSRs are worth their weight in gold- they solve problems, mollify irate customers, and turn anger and frustration into loyalty and respect.

Businesses need to treasure their CSRs and give them the support to solve customer complaints. If businesses are serious about delivering quality customer service, two things need to change. First, there needs to be a revolution in the way that we view contact centre work. Secondly, we need to give these workers the tools they need to conduct efficient conversations and to resolve customer questions quickly.

It’s time to value CSR

Businesses have little hope of delivering first-class customer service if they don’t value their CSRs, and a look at the hospitality industry is instructive here. In the UK, being a waiter is seen as a low-skilled ‘starter’ job.

But across the Channel, the French take waitering incredibly seriously. Waiters and sommeliers are typically highly trained and very knowledgeable about food and wine, and anyone who has eaten at a decent French restaurant will be familiar with the waiting staff’s air of authority and gravitas – all of which adds to the dining experience.

It’s the same for any sort of customer service. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t provide a great customer contact experience you will likely lose much of the goodwill that customers feel towards your brand. Unfortunately, many CSRs today lack the tools and the insight they need to provide fantastic Customer Experience.

Change is on the horizon

When a call comes in, it’s common for customer service staff to spend a significant amount of time authenticating the customer; once they’ve passed security, the CSR can then find themselves without a full picture of the customer and their history, and often lack the information they need to resolve the complaint quickly and efficiently.

There are signs that this view of customer service is about to change, however. AI-powered chatbots, for example, are increasingly taking responsibility for more routine enquiries, removing much of the drudgery of customer service roles and enabling operatives to focus on higher-value tasks.

But chatbots alone won’t transform the role of the CSR. If we are to change perceptions about customer service and make it a fulfilling line of work, we need to get rid of the irritations and inefficiencies that continue to bedevil the role. For example, CSRs typically spend only a quarter of their time actually helping customers. And here, AI can again come to the rescue.

The bigger picture: Businesses can now provide every CSR with all the information from an entire customer journey

Equipping CSRs for success

Smart companies that put a premium on customer service are deploying AI-powered contact centre software that enables them to provide a more in-person experience for online customers by anticipating questions and needs based on their history and where they are in the current journey.

Unfortunately, CSRs often do not have access to vital information such as purchase history or previous complaints. As a result, they go into conversations blind and spend significant amounts of time establishing basic facts before they can resolve the customer query.

Anyone who’s spent time on the phone to customer services will be familiar with the frustration of having to explain their situation multiple times to different customer service employees. By harnessing the latest generation of customer contact tools, businesses can provide every CSR with all the information from entire customer journey, from acquisition, through conversion and into post-sale support, providing companies with everything they need to create an exceptional CX.

Artificial intelligence can deliver meaningful and immediate benefits that put CSRs in the driving seat in every conversation. The benefits are legion: AI can filter out routine customer interactions that can be resolved by a chatbot or self-service, enabling agents to focus on more complex or high-value work. It can ensure seamless transition from bot to agent within the same chat window, meaning the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves.

Meanwhile, the latest generation of contact centre tools consolidate data from every customer interaction and manages data from disparate systems to deliver real-time actionable insights for faster issue resolution – all of which means that customers spend less time explaining and complaining.

Small wonder that Forrester found that businesses with mature deployments of AI-powered contact centre software saw a 63 percent increase in net promoter score (NPS) and reported an average of eight points higher than their lesser mature counterparts. Furthermore, half of these organisations saw an increase in conversation rates, 56 percent reported an increase in revenue, and 40 percent saw an increase in order size. Even agent satisfaction increased under the more mature organisations with nearly 50 percent reporting an increase in overall job happiness.

If businesses are serious about putting the customer first, the place to start is in the contact centre. They must value these problem solvers and provide them with the tools they need to turn angry, frustrated patrons into loyal customers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 1, 2019
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4min677

New research has found that 36 percent of CMOs admit their brand still hasn’t invested in Customer Experience, despite 88 percent expecting a focused CX programme to yield long-term customer loyalty and increasing sales over time.

The survey of over 100 senior CX professionals from national and international brands of all sizes was carried out by digital agency AmazeRealise and forms part of its new report, The CX Challenge.

Seventy-seven percent of CMOs confessed that their business has spent less than one percent of its annual turnover on enhancing CX. The top three reasons cited for this lack of investment were: they didn’t know enough about it, the perceived cost of implementation, and that they had trouble building the business case for its positive impact based on results.

In addition, around one-in-five (22 percent) said the lack of investment came from organisational blockers and team structure and 11 percent blamed a lack of C-suite support and senior buy-in.

Chris Barnes, Customer Experience Officer at AmazeRealise, said: “There’s still a huge and growing gap between customer expectations and the reality of what brands are delivering, especially when you see smaller, more agile disruptors entering the marketplace and being able to be much more forward-thinking with their Digital Experience.

“According to Forrester research, CX improvements have stalled for a third year in a row. It’s clear that brands need to build trust with consumers, actually listen and take action.”

In spite of the lack of investment, the survey found that the long-term business benefits of dedicated CX programmes were well understood by all CMOs. As well as providing improved loyalty and sales, almost half of those surveyed (44 percent) expected CX initiatives to lead to a decrease in costs, and 25 percent thought they would attract new customers through word-of-mouth recommendation.

At the same time, those brands that had invested significantly in CX were experiencing those benefits in full: 25 percent of those who’d invested in CX said the primary benefit to the business was increased sales; 22 percent said it was greater customer loyalty; and 22 percent said it was receiving deeper consumer insight that enabled better decisions.

Chris added: “We all need to face up to the fact that CX is now a key factor in driving business growth. The key is to bring everyone along on your journey. It can be immensely satisfying when you can see that the changes you’re making have a tangible impact on your bottom line.”


Richard WillisRichard WillisMarch 25, 2019
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7min661

According to Forrester, over the next five years western European online retail sales will grow at over three times the rate of total retail sales.

What’s driving this growth?

It comes as no surprise that consumers’ adoption of digital devices, particularly smartphones, plays a substantial role. With Forrester estimating that 84 percent of online adults in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain use smartphones, always-connected consumers will continue to drive online retail sales across Europe.

But when it comes to ‘m-commerce’ – with the purchase actually being transacted on a mobile device – its promises always seem to lie just around the corner. For a number of years we’ve seen retail predictions that this is the year for mobile, but has it ever really come true? And will 2019 be any different?

At the risk of joining in with the crystal ball gazing, 2019 may mark a watershed in mobile retail – but only if retailers can seize the opportunity that is now on offer.

The mobile opportunity

No one claims that mobile will surpass other retail channels in terms of conversions in the foreseeable future. In-store, where consumers can examine items and talk to knowledgeable sales assistants, still provides a unique experience and should never be compromised; meanwhile, traditional online retail presents the shopper with enormous choice on an easily viewed browser.

But mobile does have a key role to play in shoppers’ experience. Whilst our recent research showed 11 percent of UK shoppers planned to use mobile as their preferred channel in the run-up to Christmas 2018, it also revealed that of those using mobile, almost 40 percent were using it to look for inspiration for gifts rather than make the actual purchase.

We also found that just under a third of shoppers planned to use mobiles to check online prices while in-store (the old ‘showrooming’ phenomenon). This insight is supported by figures from Deloitte’s annual UK mobile consumer survey, which reveals the rising influence of smartphones on retail sales – including how 84 percent of millennials claim to use their phones for shopping assistance while in a store.

How to keep shoppers coming back

It’s clear that mobile is a large and increasingly important part of the Customer Experience journey. The challenge for retailers – and their great opportunity – is ensuring that the mobile experience is easy to navigate and consistently fantastic, whether shoppers are making purchases, looking for gift inspiration, or comparing prices.

Retailers might think that the best way to turn browsing into sales is by offering something that others don’t – and to some degree they’re right. But getting the basics correct counts for much more than a gimmick.

According to Forrester, smartphone-savvy consumers have high expectations for mobile experiences, with 61 percent of shoppers more likely to return to a website if it is mobile-friendly.

What steps can retailers take to ensure their mobile sites keep shoppers coming back?

For starters, m-commerce sites should be optimised for every device and mobile OS. Differences in screen size and resolution, button placement, or operating system can have a huge effect on the mobile experience. Retailers often claim that they optimise their websites for every device, but do they take into account the small factors which can have big consequences on the path to purchase?

One example is placing the checkout or ‘Buy Now’ button in the space where push notifications usually appear. This could lead to the user becoming distracted or accidentally clicking out of the purchase – perhaps a small problem but one which, multiplied by thousands of users, could severely affect sales.

Another key consideration is designing websites to be mobile-first. Many websites carry a large amount of content that is right for bigger screens, such as long blogs, videos, or interactive content. Mobile-first sites, on the other hand, need to be crisp, clear, uncluttered and easy to navigate, with visuals specifically designed for mobile devices.

Finally, we would urge retailers to think about devices holistically. M-commerce is about much more than buying something through your device’s browser. An effective strategy should embrace loyalty apps with a range of functions that optimises navigability, provides a variety of services, and boosts loyalty. This could include self-service options such as checking availability and setting up click-and-collect delivery options, or providing product reviews, social integration and single-click ordering.

By adopting a thorough m-commerce strategy, retailers have a unique opportunity to do much more than just operate another sales channel. Providing a great mobile experience will differentiate retailers in a crowded market and make them the first choice for the generations who were practically born with a mobile device in their hand, whilst also appealing to the masses that are always shopping. And, unlike many of the premature promises about mobile, this future is tantalisingly close.




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