Customer satisfaction is such an important metric that it can make or break a company. Companies that service the customers’ needs to the fullest, are rewarded well. Those that fail to elicit any reaction apart from dissatisfaction or disgust are doomed to fail. So how does an enterprise ensure that they satisfy their clients all the time? By making customers their sales guys!
Word of mouth is the best marketing strategy
My friends kept insisting that I go online to e-commerce websites like Flipkart, Jabong, and Myntra to purchase some of the best clothes and accessories that were not available in retail stores. I ignored them and believed that retail was superior. The first time I made an online purchase out of dire need, I was skeptical. What would the product be like? Would the delivery be on time? What sort of service will they provide? Will they be willing to serve me even after a month of purchase?
I was genuinely shocked to know that my online shopping was a better experience than retail shopping. Firstly, retail businesses have hard-set policies that have no money-back guarantees, only a week-long return-and-exchange policy, and they were unwilling to admit that their product could be defective. Defective products are the fault of the customer, according to them.
Online shopping, on the other hand, was a fantastic experience. As soon as I placed the order, I got a call confirming my order and was given an expected time of delivery. By going on their website, I could track the progress of the delivery. Within two days of placing the order, the product was in my hands. Customer care representatives called me to confirm the delivery, and then once again later to ask how the product was faring, were there any problems, what my experience was like, and would I like any help from them. If this is not royal treatment, then what is?
When you have a robust system, anything is possible
Needless to say, when I converted to a hardcore online shopper, my friends were there with the expression “I told you so!” The only reason why they recommended me those sites was because they had had great customer service and were thoroughly satisfied. Quality, service, cost-effectiveness, and ease of shopping were the main reasons why they became the “advertisers” for the websites. The websites did not need to pay them to advertise. The amazing service ensured that.
The websites I mentioned above are among the top websites of the country and it is possible because they have hardworking customer care representatives keeping track of the orders, the customers, the deliveries, and the post-delivery service. A robust contact center solution ensures that all these processes are running side-by-side and successfully. High agent availability ensures customers can call in anytime and expect a response. Agents use multichannel communication to interact with customers, and the business database/CRM is constantly updating the customer and order tracking information.
The tireless effort they put into service is admirable and one wishes that the retail industry also adopts such a customer service model. The customer is king and they pay well enough to deserve such a treatment. Only then will they spread the word about your product and the service they received. After all, customer satisfaction is an integral part of any business.
All of us have faced this “gatekeeper” in our pursuit of getting information or raising a complaint with our banker, telephone company, cable TV, or any other service we subscribe to. No prizes for guessing, I am talking about the IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System).
What is an IVRS?
Simply put, it is a software (or firmware in legacy applications) which plays back pre-recorded messages to the caller. It is also capable of making decisions based on DTMF inputs (phone keypad entries) which are recognized and processed by the computing engine underlying the application. It provides callers a plethora of choices: from requesting a new cheque book to selecting the showtime of the latest movie. This is achieved by creating a workflow or script based on customer’s needs in contact center solutions like AMEYO.
An IVR script is simply a combination of algorithmic logic utilizing “if”, “and”, “or”, and “then” criteria. IVR systems take in account all possible outcomes and actions associated with a phone call and keep an alternate route of action available. Pre-recorded messages are then strategically placed giving the end caller a more “human touch.”
So now we know all of the great actions that an IVR can take to assist the caller. Question is, is it helpful? Do I really want to navigate through seemingly unending choices till I reach an agent, i.e., IF I reach an agent. You will notice that the larger an enterprise’s customer base, the more complex their customer service IVR will be. (There are some exceptions though.) Ever wondered why? Well, the most obvious reason is to “get with the times”! But there is an even more clandestine cause of such complexity: cost cutting.
How can IVR be uncomplicated?
Consider this. Let’s say, there is this customer service center of a telecom company with a complex IVRS. Now, this center receives around 50,000 calls a day out of which approximately 30% of the calls get handled (graceful completion, disconnected, caller confused and hung-up, what have you!) at the IVR level itself. That means only 35,000 calls reach the agents. Considering that each agent does a 9-hour shift and the center is open 12 hours a day, with average call duration of 3.5 minute, the center would require roughly 180-190 agents at any given time. On the other hand, if all 50,000 calls were to be answered by the agents, then it would require 250 agents. Notice the difference?
Just think about how much the company will end up saving by reducing the number of agents. Using the above example, it means 60 less salaries to pay, 60 less workstations, 60 less cab pickup and drops, and so on. Overall, the figures amount to huge savings.
The point I am trying to put across is not to focus solely on savings in customer service, but rather on whether or not this “complex IVR” way of life is actually helpful to the caller. Personally, I will consider customer service to be efficient when I dial them and am greeted with a simple welcome message then be routed to an agent; or be placed in queue for an agent to be available; or the choice to opt for a callback in case of longer wait times, which is available in platforms like AMEYO. To achieve this, efficient and well-analyzed staffing mechanisms can assist in reducing the overall wait time for a caller. After all, “call waiting” is the biggest bane of any call center.
Emergency services are an integral part of not just the healthcare system but the society as a whole. Ambulances, doctors on call, medical camps, and other such services which extend beyond the physical walls of a hospital serve patients and people by bringing care to them. It also makes sure that regardless of their economic or social status, they get the care needed. And as hospitals tend to get tied up in paperwork, most of the people below the poverty line will prefer not going at all.
So how do we ensure that people get the care they need?
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) depends heavily on charity, the governments, and people’s participation to run successfully. Most hospitals cannot sustain ambulance services because a large part of the funds go towards developing in-house services instead of ambulances. Therefore, they depend on independent ambulances to bring patients to them.
Terms like “The Golden Hour” and the “Platinum Ten Minutes” emphasize on the urgency of care during the first few minutes of any incident. This is why EMS needs to reach quickly and take care of the patients. The ambulances need to be equipped for either basic or advanced life support, depending on the situation. Before the patients reach the hospital, the whole care aspect is on the technicians in EMS.
A phone call on time can save a life
EMS needs to be highly coordinated with a vast reaching network and quick response time. In the case of SRIMS Emergency Service Foundation, operating ambulances in a chaotic city like Gurgaon is not an easy task. Even with all the difficulties, SRIMS Emergency provides a coordinated 24×7 emergency response service. As soon as the organization gets a call, the agents collect all necessary patient details, including patient’s location and the kind of emergency. Following this, they track the ambulances with the help of GPS application and notify the nearest ambulance to reach the patient premises.
The contact center solution is software they use to track patients and ambulances as well as to keep hospitals updated. The solution is robust and factors in the quick response time. Agents can see caller details on their desktops and screen out fake calls. They can also update patient details during the call and dispatch an ambulance by accessing the need of the patient and his/her family. All this has to be done within seconds, so the algorithms running the processes may seem complex but their functions and results help save lives.
The work that EMS providers like SRIMS, Dial 1298, and Dial 108 do in urban and rural parts of India is commendable. Bringing care to those who need it most by fighting traffic and time is a Herculean task, no doubt about that! With the support of people, governments, organizations, charities, and healthcare providers, they are able to take care of patients. The agents on the phones play an important part in this process. They multitask by assessing the patient’s situation and dispatching the service. By continuing to do this exceptional service, we can ensure that healthcare is not a burden but a need and our right.
Customers always look, and ask for, more when they are purchasing something. They want maximum utility, cost effectiveness, high quality, reliability, great service, and a great experience. As an enterprise, your goal is to ensure that your product/service/offering is the best in the market, and offers the best features and uses to the customer. The quality of your offering will enhance if you support it with service that provides an invaluable experience to the customer. It should be the “wow factor” that pulls in the crowds and keep customers loyal.
How can you do that? Easy. Here are 5 areas that service the customer directly and indirectly, and reflect in the sales figures in both the short-term and the long-term.
- A responsive and great website
Has business moved from physical spaces to online spaces? Yes, it has. As we turn increasingly virtual, it is a sin for a business to not be present online. Customers like to search websites for offerings and also compare products of different brands. Comparing helps them make better judgment of which brand they will go for, though products may be similar. Therefore, can your website analyze viewing patterns of a potential customer and offer them suggestions? Do you have ad-infested web pages or can customers view products at ease? How easy is navigation on the website?
The easier you make it for the customer to take them from viewing to purchase, the more sales you will garner online. Keeping the website simple and uncomplicated makes it easy to maintain from your end, and ensures easy navigation to the customer.
- Post-sale thank you messages
Every conversion requires a thank you page, yet is often an afterthought. A thank-you message serves several important functions. The first of course is saying “thank-you” to the customer for the purchase and promising them great service every time they make purchase. You offer loyalty from your end, and hope that the customer returns the favor by sticking to your brand and buying more.
- Auto-confirmation e-mail/message
This is a special kind of e-mail that should be automatically sent to your converted prospects as soon as possible after they convert. The contents of the e-mail can offer discounts if they join your network or make a purchase, loyalty cards, benefits of becoming a customer, among other such offers. It is a small way to advertise your service.
- E-mail newsletter
You need to make regular contact with your customers in order to positively build their impression of your business and to keep your name at the top of their mind. While regular contact would ideally consist of content in variety of forms, this isn’t always possible. An e-mail newsletter containing new products or services, the latest posts from your blog, customer testimonials, sales events, and other interesting news is an excellent way to maintain contact. Focus on getting such e-mails out frequently. However, do not overcrowd your customers’ inboxes because they will hate you for that. Use this mode judiciously and make sure the language is suited to excite and entertain customers instead of bombarding them with useless information and offers.
- Blog post
Your blog is an interesting way to keep employees engaged about the company, and it also gives customers insight into your business. Writing about work days, events, showing customers a behind-the-scenes look of how you make your products, and talking about general information helps customers makes a personal connection. For example, a retail store can post pictures of their customers in their new line and have a best dressed contest for the employees and subscribed customers. It is an interesting way to engage customers without bombarding them with blast e-mails, voice messages, and phone calls. Since blogs are subscribed to, customers knowingly sign on for information.
More customers and more sales
Increased sales will be a resultant of more customers making more purchases, which ultimately is due to sustained, interdependent marketing campaigns and strategies. The campaigns described here cover the most common of these interdependent elements and so developing them all ahead of time will enable you to see results more quickly. The use of a robust contact center software to boost your back-end support will help you focus on front-end support, as the solution will take care of all activities efficiently and effortlessly. Enterprises should continue to develop their proven strengths and keep customer satisfaction in mind when they create new products, or develop the existing ones. The customer, after all, is at the heart of the business.
The functions of the front-end part and the back offices of any business are the same: service the customer, increase sales, and contribute to the business’s growth. However, the way each part achieves these goals is different. Customer-facing sales teams are able to easily gauge customer behaviors and patterns. For example, in a clothing store, it is much easier to know what the client wants when they linger in a section to check a particular item on the rack. The salesperson can also confirm the customer’s needs by asking them, showing them options, helping them try these options, and then selecting the final items.
In the back office, however, it is not easy to know the customer’s pattern. How much will the customer reveal over the phone, or on chat and e-mail? What if the customer views an item on the website multiple times but buys something else? How does one effectively gauge customers in this situation?
Customer needs, wants, and desires
When I go shopping with my friends we take a lot of time before we buy anything. There is a lot of window shopping, a lot of haggling and bargaining for the best prices, and sometimes we even walk away without purchasing anything. We moon over how much we like one particular store and how we did not like another store. How can one predict what a group of young men/women will want? On the other hand, shopping with the family means a lot of bargaining, selecting, and buying. Each member needs something or the other and the shopping basket just keeps piling. So how does one prevent the family from overshopping?
Well, a lot of research actually goes into studying customer behavior and how businesses, especially retail businesses, can service them best and gain the most. Just like supermarkets have aisles and aisles lined carefully with items to ease shopping, e-commerce sites have segregated web pages, interlinked with each other to provide a great customer experience. Businesses learn from experience and the past mistakes of their predecessors, rivals, and themselves. They mold their sales and marketing strategies accordingly. Everyone wants the customer to come to them again and again. They want as many loyal customers as possible.
Loyal customers lead to bigger paydays
Customer loyalty is a privilege which is achieved with great service, high quality products, and a cost-utility balance. When customers are paying you their money over and over for continued service, businesses cannot afford to be lax about either of the above three factors. Businesses may rise at first but then they fall when they forget to create a balance between the three factors.
One of my favorite restaurant during college started small but achieved fame because their very amiable servers served great quality food at low prices. We told our friends to visit the place and these friends told their friends. Soon, the restaurant was a hit and expanded. However, the downside of this expansion was that they compromised the food quality, its quantity, and replaced the old servers with new ones who served with a frown instead of a smile. Soon enough, my friends and I could not believe that this restaurant was the same quaint, old place where the servers treated us like friends and we had great food and experiences. After some time, I got to know that the restaurant had closed but I could not feel sorry for the loss.
Achieving a balance and maintaining it is hard but it is not impossible. With the right tools, contact centers of businesses can achieve this balance. The right contact center software helps integrate back-end office functions effortlessly with the front-end ones. It makes sure that the goals and objectives of the overall business are fulfilled with seamless functioning. It will make sure that agents are available for the customers. It understands their needs and connects them to the right agent. With a robust solution running your business, you can make sure that customer service is impeccable, the quality is maintained, and the costs are sustainable. What more can one ask for?
With regards to customers, this blog post explained that customers are not like children and should not be treated like them. The affection of children can be bought with promises or candy. Even though your company makes products for children, it is actually parents who are the customers. If they are not pleased with the product, they will skip it. No matter how much the child wants your stuff, if it is not up to the mark in terms of quality and cost, parents will not buy it. When they do not buy your product, they use ice cream, fast food, or candies to please the kids—effectively leaving you behind your market competitors.
The history of customer service is as much about losing as it is about winning. Mistakes of the past should never be repeated. However, new ideas are treated with caution and nothing below “exceptional” passes. Customers want quality, value for money, shopping convenience, great customer service, and consistency in quality in everything from mobile phones to their favorite pair of socks. Therefore it is not just your product which seals the “customer loyalty seal” but how, when, where, and what kind of service you provide.
Differentiating between “customer behavior” and “opinion”
Customer behavior and opinion are two very different things and all companies need to differentiate them to provide the best service. Opinion comes easily and is expressed most commonly in phone calls, e-mails, Tweets, or Facebook posts. It can be anything like expressing anger, disappointment, praise, recommendation, suggestion, and liking an ad, image, or post. It only reflects the customer’s reaction to your product/company’s service or product at a particular moment. Opinions cannot be the benchmark to judge the effectiveness of your product. That can only be determined by live testing and the feasibility in real life scenarios.
Customer behavior on the other hand is much more tangible and even, quantifiable. If wants and needs lead to product creation, then behavior leads to sales. Customers purchase something based on their needs and their lifestyle. You cannot sell a yacht to a middle-class housewife. It will be much easier to sell her products she needs on a daily basis which help make her household chores easy. If your marketing and sales team have siloed customers according to their purchase behaviors, gender, age, income group, geography, profession and job status, among other chief factors; it becomes easier to target and sell to them the right products.
In a contact center, this will be especially useful
As more sales are conducted online and on the phone, the role of your customer care contact center increases. Agents have to use smart marketing and sales strategies to attract customers. Train your staff to differentiate between opinions and behavior. Deploy a software that intelligently siloes customers. A robust contact center solution stores data, siloes it, and utilizes it in customer interactions. This way you can sell better and build relationships that are based on the wants, needs, habits, wishes, and whims of each one of your customer. Customers get better service, and agents benefit with the increase of satisfied customers. And your business, well, its growth will be a testament of both service and sales.
Smart thinking has paved the way for smart technology. In the era of rapid digitalization, smart technology is the all-in-one tool for the tech-savvy individual. Banking, shopping, communication, sight-seeing, official work, social media, and even healthcare are incorporated into a smartphone. Anything from any corner of the globe is within reach now. The globe really has shrunk.
In a recent report, the Times of India said that smartphone usage has increased by 89% from last year. This is very significant change with regards to the communications and technology sectors. As the use of smartphones trickles down from the urban areas to the rural areas, smartphone manufacturers and telecom providers have a new and different audience to cater to. Specialized services, apps, features, and upgrades have attracted the urban population towards the smartphone race and the same will hold true for the rural audience. The question will be: what more can a smartphone do?
So what more can smartphones offer?
For developers of smartphone software, the focus is on providing a plethora of apps on an easy-to-use interface which makes juggling various applications simultaneously, an easy task. For telecom providers, the focus is on exploiting the mobile VAS (value added services) market to the maximum so that their customers get the maximum air time, high-speed internet, texting and video call facilities, among other services. Their phones will be an extension of themselves and be used to service all needs.
Telecoms in India are experimenting with 3G and 4G services in parts of India which allows for faster access to online applications and services. Almost all banking and financial institutions have also been vigorously developing secure apps which allow easy movement of money through mobile transfer. This will considerably reduce physical queues as more and more people adapt mobile banking for everyday transactions.
Mobile VAS to lead the revolution
Mobile applications will edge out online browsing as India becomes the third fastest growing smartphone market in the world. “Budget smartphones” are accessible to more people and it is no longer a niche market. Developing countries need VAS in sectors like banking, finance, agriculture, human resources, governance, education, and healthcare most of all because most times, the physical resources are too far away. Many apps in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and South America are leading the trend of providing VAS which aid local entrepreneurs, customers, and citizens in general, to be closer to their banks, governments, doctors, telecom providers, as well their families.
More benefits with more investment
Among the many benefits of mobile VAS, here are a few:
- Enterprises and individuals can customize their offerings and services based on needs
- Providing a particular capability through mobile VAS increases convenience for the customer
- Entrepreneurs and enterprises can be in direct contact to their customers
- Customers are at the heart of VAS innovation; servicing them is the primary objective
VConnect, one of the leading local search engines and enterprise VAS providers in Nigeria, offers their customers and clients the opportunity to customize VAS services for the end user. They offer great customer service using Drishti-Soft’s contact center solution that allows them to be available to their clients when they need solutions and issue resolution. In African countries, especially, it was found that VAS benefitted small private businesses and entrepreneurs to a great extent. It proved to be the backbone for the growth of their business.
Enterprise VAS is able to address business challenges of small- and medium enterprises as they cannot invest heavily in expensive technology like large enterprises. These applications ensure a larger demographic than social media, manual calling, and even advertisements, and affords enterprises the luxury of direct customer reach. Mobile VAS is therefore, here to stay, and will greatly help customers get the best services on their mobile phones.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, one of the traps that the Indian software sector faced was the “service trap”. India as a whole had the reputation of a services providing company instead of being a product creating company. To the Western world, we were a large labor force that was waiting to be untapped in the wake of India’s economic liberalization. For a good part, we believed we were great at service and left all the innovation jobs for the West.
But then we stopped. Somewhere along the way, Indian entrepreneurs (existing and budding ones) realized that providing services to the IT giants of US, Europe, and Japan was not enough. We had the capability in ourselves to be creators and innovators. We already had a large service force which was educated and willing to work. Indians therefore, started to create.
When Drishti-Soft formed in 2003, it was one of the few innovators that took pride in homegrown software, at par with the already established, big US-based players. Once the creation started, there was no stopping. Drishti-Soft expanded and evolved and has become a global contact center software company now. With presence in over 40 countries across Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Drishti-Soft is quickly on its way to global domination. It broke the mold and focused on software creation than just providing service.
Giving Way for More Innovation
The thing about humans is that the urge to create, develop, and innovate is inherent in us. This is why innovation spreads like fire even with a single spark. In the case of India, the IT services still thrive by providing some of the most competitive services in the world. In terms of both cost effectiveness and talent, India fares better than many of its contemporaries. The entrepreneurs have also sizably increased. There are so many ventures being developed and launched now that the economy is abuzz. Jobs are being created, people are gaining skills in many areas, and we have experts in every field.
This exciting atmosphere is great for the upcoming generation of entrepreneurs who are still in schools and colleges. Talent and great ideas are being recognized much more. People do not have to rely on the government only for funding or approvals any more. Entrepreneurs are supporting each other and encouraging the young blood. Drishti-Soft also believes in igniting minds and lighting the fire of innovation in more people so that India can be a leader in product creation one day. It is for this reason that we stand behind the iSpirt initiative.
iSpirt and India’s Future
iSpirt (Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable) is a think tank comprising some of the innovators in the Indian software sector. They firmly believe in creating more products and the way to do this is by addressing government policy, creating market catalysts, and growing the maturity of product entrepreneurs. The think tank is therefore, a support group, or self-help community who promote the existing Indian software product companies.
The transformation of the Indian software sector will come by accommodating more product creation and promoting local and global partnerships between software companies. It is a noble idea and one that Drishti-Soft wholeheartedly supports—after all, it is one of the founding members of the think tank. When we have the talent within ourselves, the drive to create things is just the push we need. iSpirt will serve as the much-needed push to the companies that need it most. Drishti-Soft supports a collaborative environment where thoughts are put into action and innovation is chased after each day. After all, without innovation, we would hardly be here.