Companies have been urged to embrace changing trends in customer services to enhance the experiences of clients.
According to Sandra Galer, consulting executive for contact centres and customer service for Merchants, South Africa’s oldest and largest business process outsourcer, increasing displacement in the contact centre of verbal with written communication is changing the way customer experience is delivered.
Thus the battle for the customer is shifting to new ground, away from the telephone to digital (email, web chat) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, and others) although the delivery mechanism for customer experience remains the same: the contact centre agent or customer service representative.
“This means that there is now a gap between the agents you used to recruit for their verbal and telephonic skills and the new needs of the customer,” she said.
She added that in the majority of cases, the department tasked with delivering that customer experience is the contact centre, something that makes the agent the differentiator because he or she is responsible for ensuring that the customer has a superior experience.
Even though webchat, email and social media communication takes place in a written format, a resentful customer expects the immediate response he or she would get in a telephone call.
This kind of time pressure compounds the problem of the agent’s written response going into the public domain rather than being kept private in a telephone call, massively increasing the potential for agent mistakes or misunderstandings to create reputational damage.
In spite of these dangers, the 2014 Dimension Data Benchmarking survey shows that only 37 per cent of organisations globally are measuring the cost and customer impact of handling emails, let alone their management of webchat or Facebook contacts.