One of the key trends that is accelerating in 2012 is the use of mobile devices to research, access information and make purchases. New studies have found that more and more people now reach for their smartphone or tablet during the buying process, even if they make the final purchase through other channels.
UK figures from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) show that nearly half of smartphone owners use their mobile to search for product information after seeing a TV ad, while 38% turn to it when out shopping. However 80% of purchases are still via a PC, compared to 34% on a mobile. These findings back up a US survey from the Pew Research Center that found that over 50% of US shoppers used their phones for assistance when in bricks and mortar stores.
Essentially these show that mobile devices are now a vital channel for many different types of business and are a key part of the customer journey. The bad news is that a survey of marketers found that just 20% of them had a mobile-optimised site, and just 18% had an app. Given the growth in mobile devices and how easy it is for consumers to access the internet through them, companies obviously need to focus on delivering a better user experience in 2012.
Customer service has to be a central part of this. After all, there’s no point having a wonderful app if it doesn’t link into your overall customer service strategy or creates a silo of information separate from the rest of the company. While early adopters might put up with poor customer service just to be first to use the latest app or site, the mainstream simply won’t.
We’ve talked in the past about the different areas (such as consistency, integration and a single view) that companies need to focus on when they add new channels to their strategy and these apply equally to mobile devices.
But importantly companies also need to understand the effect that increasing use of mobile devices will have on other channels. Not only do customers want to use apps and websites while on the move, they now have the power to send queries by email, post to social media and call your contact centre – all from a single, easy to use device. So create a consistent experience across all channels, including mobile, if you want to retain customers and grow revenues in 2012.
The majority of times when customers call your contact centre they are looking to get answers to their questions. Provide this information quickly, efficiently and politely and they will finish the conversation happier and better disposed towards your company. That’s the essence of good customer service – and on paper it seems relatively simple.
However ensuring your contact centre agents have fast access to the information they need to answer customer questions consistently and efficiently can be difficult. Information can be scattered across different IT systems, recorded in printed folders, scribbled on post-it notes or just stored in some agents’ heads. Centralising this knowledge and making it easy to access and update by agents is therefore critical to providing good customer service.
A great example of how knowledge management is working in practice is at Eptica customer Domestic & General. The UK’s leading warranty specialist, Domestic & General has implemented Fido, a centralised knowledge management system built on Eptica’s software across its two UK contact centres.
Domestic & General knew that ensuring agents used the new system was vital if customers were to benefit. So it gave it a high internal profile by branding the project as Fido and assigned a full time project team. This easy to remember name comes from the Latin ‘fidel’, meaning faithful. Just as man’s best friend is his dog, Fido aims to become Domestic & General’s agents’ best friend when it comes to getting the answers they need.
Fido replaced Domestic & General’s old knowledge sharing processes, many of which were paper-based. Now agents access up to the minute, accurate answers by typing questions into the web-based system, which provides consistent and fast responses to every enquiry. Its introduction has been very popular, with the system now receiving an average of 50,000 hits per month, and each agent, in Domestic & General’s customer service department, using the system on average 300 times each month.
The results so far have been impressive. Since Fido went live, customer call times have been reduced by nearly a quarter (22%) and operational costs have been lowered by £158,000. Furthermore, first contact resolution rates have increased, hold times halved and the time taken to train new agents has decreased by 20%.
And as a demonstration of the success of the project, Domestic & General has been shortlisted in the Best Use of Technology in Customer Service category at the 2012 Financial Sector Technology Awards.
To find out more about Domestic & General’s success simply click here.