The customer expectations bar continues to rise rapidly along with an increased willingness for consumers to share their feelings when dissatisfied and seek gratification elsewhere. Consequently, businesses need to raise their game and continually evolve their customer experience strategy to meet these challenges. As a result of this fast changing customer landscape, some companies are seeking answers to integrate their systems, improve their processes and educate their people to adopt a customer-centric approach to address this. However, many haven’t yet reached the stage where they have properly managed to harness these important but different elements, in a way that allows for a truly joined up or “holistic” view of the customer, thereby driving a seamless, effortless multi-channel engagement.

An innovative, agile and fast growing company who look like they’ve got answers to these and other questions, and are rewriting the book on flexible, cloud based, multi-channel contact centre solutions is LiveOps. LiveOps gives companies a 24/7, 360-degree ability to connect with their customers faster, better, and more efficiently. Companies and brands can now engage in two-way, real-time interaction on the customer’s channel of choice, without costly and time consuming systems integration investments.

I recently caught up with Ann Ruckstuhl, Chief Marketing Officer at LiveOps to get her view on today’s business environment generally, customer service specifically and how LiveOps is adapting to it.

Gerry Brown:
What are some of the biggest challenges for customer service departments today?

Ann Ruckstuhl:
Ensuring that their people are truly empowered in terms of their behaviour, their emotional connection with the customer and their knowledge of all customer interactions. People’s skills in the contact centre and beyond must evolve to be able to handle all interactions, regardless of channel. Consequently the business must be seamlessly, easily and totally connected to enable this level of confidence and ability.

GB: Despite their best intentions many businesses find that there is a big disconnect between their customer experience ambitions and their operational reality. What, if anything, can technology do to redress the balance?

AR: By focusing on a customer experience model that can cut across functional silos and is ready to serve all customers with equal effectiveness and ease, regardless of the contact channel they choose. Everyone that interacts with the customer must have awareness of all previous interactions, regardless of their role, and have the knowledge, capability and authority to respond quickly and professionally.

GB: We hear the word disruption a lot today, but for many people in “traditional” businesses that can be, well, disruptive. How do you see disruption positively changing the world of customer service and enhancing customer experience?

AR: Innovative businesses, such as John Lewis, Zappos and Nordstrom that have become the benchmark for great customer experience, are having a transformational and disruptive impact on all businesses by setting the customer service bar ever higher and challenging all companies to match it. They recognize that there must be responsibility and ownership for customer experience across all departments and consequently accessibility via by any employees, across all channels, all the time. To achieve this they have deployed a platform that extends this capability natively and seamlessly without the necessity for them to be in the system integration business.

GB: You use the word pivot to explain how businesses need to be more versatile, agile and flexible in dealing with customers. How do you define pivot in this context?

AR: Customer centric organizations must have the visibility, capability and confidence to handle interactions across whichever channel is most appropriate for the customer and to pivot seamlessly between channels as needed to improve the customer experience. This enables agents to pivot from Twitter or Facebook to email, SMS or voice and back as they resolve complaints and post replies or updates to customers.

GB: Other frequently used terms are multi-channel and omni-channel, often used interchangeably. Many technology companies claim they are able to provide this. So how is LiveOps different in the way that you address this challenge?

AR: To consistently deliver a seamless and effortless experience for the customer across channels, it’s vital that an agent, or anyone dealing with a customer query, has full access to the complete interaction history. In many cases this means significant and costly investment in application integration to achieve this. In contrast, the LiveOps integrated agent desktop enables agents to engage with customers quickly and effectively across all channels through a single interface, and eliminates the need to tab between countless numbers of application windows.

GB: Technology, culture, human development and business innovation are colliding at a speed never before experienced and we hear dire predictions about the death of the contact centre, or at least the voice channel. Is there a “contact centre of the future, and how do you see companies adapting to this fast moving world and shifting demographics and expectations of millennial customers?

AR: There’s no question that changes in behaviour across the whole demographic spectrum are driving a seismic shift in how we interact with customers and the contact centre is becoming more of an engagement centre or interactions hub. Organizational structures must also change to reflect this and whatever we call this new entity, it will become the focal point for all meaningful customer interactions, be staffed by trusted, empowered and customer aware knowledge workers and will become the best place to be in the company.

GB: How important to LiveOps development and growth, as well as your customers’ success, is the fact that you have 20,000 home based agents using LiveOps every day?

AR: We’ve always been very consumer driven and by deploying our own large BPO operation we are battle tested and both understand, and are prepared, for the challenges that our customers and their customers face every day. By leveraging our roots in customer service, we continue to lead the industry with our innovative technology, harnessing the benefits of the cloud, enabling fast, smart communication – regardless of the incoming channel.

GB: Is Big Data a silver bullet, or a busted flush? And assuming that it’s the former how does LiveOps help businesses really leverage it to maximum advantage?

AR: While many in our industry tout big data capabilities, they’re effectively speaking to the benefit of knowing what customers have done in the past. As consumer priorities can change by the hour, making what someone did yesterday is far less important than what they’re doing right now. Understanding your customer goes beyond awareness of interaction history and past preferences and consequently we believe in just enough data to be able to use real-time, contextual and historical information to effectively resolve the customer’s query. Brands must have visibility into present needs and provide their agents with the right data, in the right place at the right time, to act proactively and immediately on that information and to leverage this knowledge to enhance their confidence and capability that results in an equally positive employee experience.

gerryGerry Brown
The Customer Lifeguard
Gerry has had key management roles in the UK and Canada, advising business on their transformation strategy and change management processes. He has been involved in the growth of many of the larger customer service operations and contact centre deployments in both countries. In his current role as a speaker, workshop trainer and consultant, his focus is now on helping businesses create a memorable and lasting customer experience that will drive loyalty, reduce attrition and bring profitable customers back again and again.

Building on three decades of business experience, and as a vocal customer himself, Gerry is fiercely committed to paying more than lip service to customers, and is rolling up his sleeves to help companies to better align the key building blocks of people, process and technology, to bring a successful and sustainable customer experience strategy to life.

Gerry is a member of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA) and the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) and speaks authoritatively and passionately about the practical, proven, customer service strategies that produce lasting, memorable and measurable results

Field of Expertise:

Development of business strategies & operational technology deployment specializing in:
– Customer experience strategy design, deployment and measurement
– Multi-channel/Omni-Channel customer service technology sourcing, design and
implementation
– Mobile, digital marketing and the value and integration of Big, and not so big, Data
– Making sense of, and deriving value from, leading CRM solutions such as
Salesforce.com, to align sales processes, operational and other complementary
technologies to truly deliver a single customer view

LinkedIn Profile: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gerryhbrown/

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