Jeremy Payne, International Group Marketing Director, Enghouse Interactive
We are entering a new age of customer service, characterised by a stark generational divide in consumer likes and dislikes.
In a survey we recently carried out, which polled the views of more than 2,000 adults across the UK, nearly three times more 16-24 year-olds (46%) than 55 and overs (16%) claimed that a brand’s ability to engage with them via social media was important to them. And while just 9% of respondents in the 16-24 age bracket said engaging with a brand using online communications was not important to them at all, that figure rises to 41% among the 55+ category.
Our findings are polarised around age and for me the overriding lesson is that a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works in today’s complex market. The message is loud and clear – businesses need to know their customers and deliver services tailored to their requirements.
Horses for Courses
If your business model is predominantly online or you’re marketing to a young audience, you’ll want to offer social media engagement and a greater array of online communications tools. If you are mainly engaging with older consumers you should focus on traditional channels. And if your market is a mixture of both, you’ll need a broad solutions offering, encompassing traditional voice-based telephony and the latest online solutions.
For the large number of businesses that fall into this final category, the requirements of today’s rapidly-evolving customer service environment are particularly challenging.
They typically have high expectations and low patience levels. They want to communicate wherever they are in the world and they expect contact to be effortlessly successful, first time, every time.
To meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of this new wave of tech savvy customers – the so called millenials or Generation Y – organisations need to deploy solutions that allow customers to self-serve at any time, on any device in any place. Tools like self-service user forums, searchable knowledge bases, interactive voice and visual response (IVR) and even artificially intelligent robot agents that can chat through a messaging service are all part of the mix in providing effortless customer service.
Older customers, many from either the Generation X or Baby Boomer ranks, also want personalised human to human customer service. But for this group, the meaning of the term is different. Typically, these people are looking for an approach based around personal engagement. Every time they interact with the business, they want to talk to the same person: someone who knows them and understands the nature of their enquiry.
That’s where we see the benefits of technology in supporting the right kind of interactions and also bringing all the benefits of the connected enterprise to bear to ensure the optimum level of personalised service. The kind of operator console technology chosen is vitally important if the business wants to provide the optimum caller experience, enabling the customer to have a rich and informative conversation with the person on the other end of the line.
With the help of the latest systems, receptionists can use real-time presence and calendar information to select the back office contact best placed to engage with the caller and answer their questions. For larger organisations, in particular, the ability to create a global directory and view of who is available and best placed to assist the customer is vital.
Customer Service has to be Key
Whatever their preferred interaction method, the public prizes customer service highly when it comes to buying from a brand. 42% of our survey respondents said they usually or always based their decision to buy solely on the organisation’s reputation for customer service, rising to more than half (52%) of 16-24 year-olds.
This emphasis on customer service underlines once again just how important it is for organisations to protect their reputation and focus on customer satisfaction. With the ongoing move to digital self-service channels for customer service, which are typically much cheaper to run, many businesses are making savings. The savvier amongst them are reinvesting that money to ensure that when people do need to speak to staff directly, they can get connected into the business and access somebody equipped with the relevant knowledge to solve their problem.
After all, businesses need to have a strategy in place that allows them to respond proactively to the kind of polarisation in customer preferences that this survey shows up so clearly. And that means they need to know what interaction methods their customers like and be prepared to provide them with a service that delivers just that.
For further information, please visit the Enghouse Interactive website – www.enghouseinteractive.co.uk
International VP Marketing, Enghouse Interactive
Jeremy has over two decades of distinguished experience in the software and services industry and has worked as a marketing leader within several blue chip corporates across the globe. In his current role as VP International Marketing at Enghouse Interactive, Jeremy is responsible for the commercialisation of the company’s four key solutions across Europe Middle East and Africa. He is an expert in Customer Relationship and Interaction Management, as well as Business Process Improvement and Social CRM and has travelled globally presenting on the key trends in these areas.