HP Inc shares seven formulas for successful customer engagement

|November 6, 2015 0

TG Sureshbabu

MUMBAI, INDIA: We are living in a ubiquitous and connected world.

Wrapped around these ever-increasing gadgets and products is a related universe of services. Also, in a connected world, the laws of six degrees of separation no longer hold true. Every gen-Z wants to be connected on the go, all the time. Which means the pace of change in technology has never been this fast and the choice customers have has never been this boundless. No-doubt, customer-centricity plays a very important role today.

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Leaving no customer behind is important and third generation organizations are working towards revenue growth along with customer loyalty. Especially in a dynamic business environment, companies are experimenting with new ways of interacting with their customers like online selling and marketing and mobile applications.

Trust has been built. The online consumer experience has arrived. Every industry has jumped this bandwagon. While these new trends and processes are good, authenticity and empathy will take organizations a long way in improving customer satisfaction and competing in the market.

Here are seven ways to ensure customer engagement at all levels.
Exhibit value while on-boarding the customer: According to an HBR study, “It is not one experience alone but cumulative experiences across multiple touch points that reduced customer satisfaction.”

This is a clear indication of how a customer needs to be made a loyalist early on in the journey through exceptional service and engagement, through education and marketing even. First impression is the best impression indeed.

Motivate front-line executives: Front-line managers are the face of the organization.

Unfortunately, they are also individuals who face the ire of an irate customer when they are dissatisfied with the service. Unless a front-line manager is empowered to take decisions, offer solutions and support, the organization will struggle to provide great customer experience.

Organizations worry that empowering front-line managers may add to multiple costs such as warranty and after-sales. However, keeping ears close to the ground and listening to front-line managers can be the first step to better service.

Identify pain points: Once the employees have bonded cohesively in cross-functional environments, management needs to help create links and scenarios of journey that the client takes from inception to end.

Research shows that lack of communication among teams to resolve issues as an important cause of customer concern. A customer may be happy with a set of individual interactions but that necessarily does not lead to increase in net promoter score. By working in cross-functional environment, engaging with each other, employees will be able to bring value to the table.

Data analytics can help companies arrive at conclusive answers to issues. For example, if a certain spare part has become the most replaced one, it helps to proactively probe why that is the case instead of rallying field engineers to give best services. Then the challenges get limited to reactive services which field engineers address. This also gives them the bandwidth to be empathetic and focus on real issues.

Understand existing performance: A company may get numerous calls on a daily basis and executives may answer each query but do organizations identify root causes of the calls and patterns that may be suggesting a larger issue. This kind of understanding requires playing with data and constant monitoring.

There may be situations where the supply chain teams need to step up to ensure parts are supplied on time or a situation where service has been delayed due to unavailability of an engineer or a product defect.

A bottom-up analysis reveals root cause issues beyond a call. If problems lie elsewhere no amount of calls will be able to fix it. It will only increase the volume of calls and call-backs.

This will degrade customer experience. As you will understand from the conversation on data analytics, customer base has shifted, their pattern of usage has shifted and failure pattern has shifted. Improvement in customer interaction is not limited to the improving the interaction but many additional and peripheral support activities and organizations too.

Keep it simple: Complexity tends to distract organizations from their focus of customer service and decreases efficiency and progress. It’s an irony that new processes and programs are meant to improve customer service but doesn’t necessarily do that.

A classic example – organizations create complex IT process that inexperienced customer service executives need to learn along with keeping abreast with their usual business of interacting with customers. It would be better to automate these processes and allow employees to deliver unmatched customer service.

Automate tools, keep technology simple and free up front-line and call center employees to deliver exceptional client support. It will improve the hiring process as companies will then hire executives with the empathy and attitude for customer service and not technical skill sets alone.

Create strong partnerships: Competition is constantly innovating, there is also increasing pressure to reduce costs.

For example – A product company’s core offering is their high-end products. They may want to involve a partner whose core is customer support. This may lead to a strategic partnership of two of the best organizations who know their business well.

It is common to see organizations creating partnership frameworks with large and small organizations to support their customer support journey. Many organizations feel the need to be close to their product and focus on innovation. Some think otherwise and want to ensure that customer service of their product is their responsibility. Both models have their pros and cons and both have been existing in the market.

Go digital: Digital customer care has become a cost-effective way of interacting with customers lowering costs significantly and elevating the overall net promoter score.

Digital channels have already become the preferred source for product and service information. For example – Twitter chats allows enhanced customer experience anytime and anywhere. Moreover, these chats allow other followers, loyalists and subject matter experts to contribute to the conversations creating a community that customer like to be a part of. Also, steering away from the traditional methods of customer service, customer representatives are able to interact with 2-3 customers at a time in different windows rather than talk to one customer at a time. Live feeds allow front-line customer representatives support repair immediately.

In today’s environment leaving no customer behind is important for businesses to flourish. A promoter has the ability to create more promoters and a detractor has the ability to create enough negative perception that it may mar an organization’s growth. Organizations are looking at new ways to transform customer experience and the journey of their partnership together.

The process may be painstakingly time consuming and strategic or tactical but the rewards are high. Overall the journey is incomplete without collaboration with employees and customers themselves. If leaving no customers behind becomes part of organizational DNA it will allow continuous improvement and be able to add value always!

The article is authored by TG Sureshbabu, India Director, Customer Services and Support, HP Inc

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