Maximize the Value of Self-Service
by Susan Hash
Self-service channels can offer an effective alternative for conducting simple transactions and cutting support costs, but the inability to resolve issues on the first interaction remains a top challenge. Besides the negative impact on satisfaction, issues that cannot be resolved through the IVR or Web site prompt repeat calls to a live agent, creating inefficiencies and increased costs. How can you optimize customers’ self-service experience? The following are a few best practices for providing a consistent, high-quality interaction.

Understand Your Customers’ Self-Service Preferences
Bell Canada’s IVR offers many self-service options, yet its research has identified that the bulk of callers simply want to be routed to a live agent. The IVR’s back-end recognition technology identifies various customer parameters, such as the specific features of each caller’s rate plans, to help identify the reasons for the call and route it quickly to the proper agent.

Customer Education Ensures Successful Adoption
Enbridge Gas Distribution’s comprehensive campaign to advertise their online knowledgebase included billing statement inserts, line messages within the statement, and a quarterly message in its customer newsletter. They also found that moving the tool’s icon and link to a higher, more visible position on the home page increased customer usage dramatically.
Customer training for NCR Corp.’s customer self-service portal is multilayered. Each application has its own built-in training module and online demonstration. CSRs play an important role in customer education by providing training for their customers on the system’s capabilities and acting as the first line of support.

Provide Comprehensive Content
Canada Post found that, when asking customers to evaluate its direct-mail service, a large number regularly asked for help creating their direct-marketing campaigns. To meet that need, it developed an online tool that guides customers through all of the 81 steps (even though most don’t belong to the direct-mail service).

Encourage Crossfunctional Involvement
Developing a consistent service experience across all channels requires a crossfunctional approach. Involve various departments (e.g., marketing, sales, IT) and resources in developing a technology plan that supports the business strategy.

Inside View: Whirlpool Corporation
by Susan Hash
Whirlpool’s award-winning Customer eXperience Centers enjoy high employee engagement and low attrition due to the continuous efforts of its contact center leaders and formal programs to develop staff and create a positive workplace culture. One initiative is known as Project ED, which stands for Engagement Date, in which senior leaders schedule time to spend with individual agents with the sole goal of getting to know them. Employee engagement is taken seriously at Whirlpool. The effectiveness of various programs is tracked via a formal engagement survey that helps senior management to identify where to focus their efforts.
Read the full story here.


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