While companies live or die by beating out their competition, in a tight economy, the race becomes even tighter. For a company that offers a rather commoditized service – think financial services – there is really only one way to attract and retain customers. Credit card companies are a great example. While credit cards can be had from a wide array of companies and organizations, it's the customer service that differentiates the providers.
According to an article on IT Web today, many credit card companies are discovering that the way a company allows customers to interact with it can be a huge draw.
“Product improvement alone is not enough to drive long-term profitability for credit card lenders in an environment of radically changing, heightened customer service expectations," says Ebrahim Dinat, chief operations officer at specialist contact center solutions and services provider, Ocular Technologies.
It's not simply about the timeliness of a reply to a consumer's query, or the speed with which the contact center picks up the telephone. It's increasingly about the array of choices given to customers to interact with a company. Increasingly, customers are choosing less traditional methods to contact their financial services companies, including mobile apps, social media and others.
It's also about how accurate the information provided to customers is, and how well it's integrated with a company's other departments, products and operations. An increasingly competitive environment in which customers are spending less and expecting more is forcing many credit card lenders to step back and re-examine the effectiveness of their entire customer experience programs within both the contact center and throughout the enterprise, notes IT Web.
Customers now expect more – they are more accustomed to instant gratification when it comes to customer service – and companies that fail to meet these expectations will be left behind.
“Consumers also take for granted easy access to sophisticated self-help tools across the entire device spectrum, including computers, smart phones and tablets,” notes Dinat.
“The service challenges posed by this are internal barriers, such as disparate business systems, lack of 360-degree views of customer data and knowledge bases, untracked manual processes, little or no interaction between the front and back offices, and lenders dictating how and when cardholders can interact with their institution,” he added.
For many companies, this means moving to comprehensive, integrated, all-in-one contact center platforms that are cloud-based to be easily shared by all the stakeholders in customer service across an entire operation. The old-fashioned “siloed” approach, or a set-up in which contact centers work independent of one another, will lead to places credit card companies don't want to go: losing customers and unsure why.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman