Companies across industries are adopting a more customer-centric posture, resulting in a reevaluation of their customer-care strategies.
Past and now
While care has traditionally been viewed purely as a cost center with a focus on executing efficiently, executives are increasingly more aware that customer interactions and associated experiences are key in shaping customer impressions of the company and its products or services.
Today’s customers are omnichannel, and they want seamless transitions and a consistent experience from one channel to the next. Customer-care functions that can excel at personalization, sincerity, empathy, and the quick resolution of requests can better differentiate their company from the competition.
In the past, executives had to make clear tradeoffs between operating expense and customer experience. In more recent times, enhancements to web and mobile-app channels have resulted in reduced call volume but often at the expense of customer experience.
However, with more modern, customer-oriented technologies, organizations can now strive for both. When executed well, semiautomated omnichannel journeys can reduce operating costs and provide a better customer experience. New technology-enabled tools—such as virtual agents, natural language processing–based chatbots, and visual interactive voice response systems—effectively engage with consumers in digital channels while also acting as gatekeepers when live interactions are still necessary.
In addition to enhanced experiences, increasingly sophisticated self-service tools are providing users with unprecedented control and visibility while also providing companies with new ways to connect to customers—for example, through social media. These enhanced digital channels help generate new data sources that companies can analyze to further improve their service and increase personalization. All of these factors culminate in a more customerfirst operating posture.
Content of the compendium
This compendium’s four articles showcase what is possible when companies put the customer first.
“How to capture what the customer wants” discusses an overarching strategy to map the omnichannel journeys of customers. Companies must first understand what matters most to their customers before they can design an engaging customer experience. By having the customers themselves help design the experience process and using data across touchpoints to personalize the experience, companies can build a better customer journey. With an omnichannel approach in place, organizations can then integrate technology to achieve more personalized customer service.
Two articles highlight powerful applications.
“How advanced analytics can help contact centers put the customer first” details how companies can use data and analytics to truly understand customer needs from the first contact forward.
“Getting the best customer service from your IVR” reassesses interactive voice response, detailing the steps companies can take to harness this invaluable tool’s full potential.
Despite increasing digitization and automation across omnichannel, people will remain the reason for all customer operations. Providing excellent service is becoming increasingly challenging: the simple customer requests are typically addressed by self-service tools and automation, meaning that agents must handle the more complex ones. In addition, digital leaders across industries have raised customers’ expectations for personalization and empathy.
“Bringing agile to customer care” demonstrates how agile methodology, especially customer centricity and team engagement, can be applied as effectively in the contact center as in product, digital, and innovation areas.
We believe the insights in these articles provide guidance on issues that many companies are grappling with and chart a clear path toward better customer care. Customer expectations will continue to rise. Will you be able to keep pace?
About the authors
Jeff Berg is a partner in McKinsey‘s Southern California office, and Julian Raabe is a partner in the Munich office.
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