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Superior Customer Service Requires Emulating Best Practices

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October 15, 2012

Superior Customer Service Requires Emulating Best Practices

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Customers today have an ever-increasing number of choices when it comes to customer service media. They can contact you via telephone, either live or via interactive voice response (IVR). They can choose Web chat, self-service, e-mail and even social media. This has put pressure on consumer-facing companies today.

Are you ready and able to service customers via all these media? Even more important, are all the channels you offer fully integrated so you’re not servicing customers in silos? The customer experience is more important than ever, and without true multichannel integration, you risk alienating customers forever. Customers know whether they’re getting consistent service across all platforms, since most customers today will likely choose a variety of media through which to contact you. 

For all these reasons, customer service experts say it’s important to develop a best-in-class multichannel customer service program. But the question remains…what is a best-in-class customer experience? And where do you start emulating one?

Earlier this year, research analysts Aberdeen Group surveyed 180 service professionals and identified patterns and metrics benchmarks that distinguish best-in-class companies from the average performers. Leading organizations deliver consistent and effective service experience no matter what channel is being accessed by the customer providing not only higher satisfaction but also reducing the operational costs.

They found that best-in-class organizations excelled in certain vital areas: these companies boasted 89 percent customer retention (as opposed to 70 percent at an average performing company) and 87 percent first-call resolution (as opposed to an industry average of 59 percent). They were almost twice as likely to seek customer feedback after a customer interaction (64 percent versus 39 percent) and they were 42 percent more likely to leverage social media. They also offer broader self-service options and far more likely to leverage a common knowledge base across all channels.

So now we know what best-in-class companies do. How do you accomplish all of these things?

Aberdeen (News - Alert) Group has some suggestions for companies seeking to join those best-in-class companies. For starters, says the group, it’s essential to make customer service a standalone business unit. Next, it’s important to develop standalone escalation procedures, ensuring that no customer contacts fall through the cracks. Developing a single knowledge base is also critical to avoid the dreaded “siloing” that will undo all efforts to excel in customer service. Finally, it’s critical that customer service or the call center share service information with other functional business units.

To learn more about the research and the best practices involved, you can listen to a recording of a Web event earlier this year hosted by Aberdeen Group, KANA and TMCnet.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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