Our last post talked about the strains facing companies as consumers demand faster and faster responses to their queries. However it isn’t just speed that customers value – they want to be able to get an answer through whatever channel they choose, whether online or offline. And if you don’t provide the right experience they’ll simply take their custom elsewhere.
To help Asian companies meet the challenge of successfully doing business with always on consumers, the Contact Centre Association of Singapore (CCAS) is organising a breakfast seminar on the Multichannel Customer Experience. Sponsored by Eptica, and taking place on Friday 12th October 2012 it will address the key issues facing customer service today.
Covering how to create a seamless multichannel experience and a more efficient service operation the event will include practical advice on:
- How to improve efficiency and reduce your service costs by up to 40%
- How to improve quality of service and first contact resolution to more than 90%
- How to reduce the volume of inbound emails by 50% and calls by more than 30%
- How to achieve joined up and future proof multichannel web, email, social, chat, telephone and mobile customer service.
The keynote guest speaker will be Huiyoong Yong, IT Strategic Communications, AirAsia. Huiyoong will be talking about how AirAsia is using Eptica’s software to deliver award-winning customer service.
By deploying Eptica as a centralised customer Self-service system, AirAsia is now providing fast, consistent customer service across the web, Facebook and mobile channels, 24 hours a day. Over one million enquiries per month are now being managed through the AskAirAsia system. What is critical for consistency of answers is that all these channels share the same knowledgebase. So whether customers ask a question through the web, Facebook or mobile they receive the same answer, through the channel of their choice.
Eptica CEO Olivier Njamfa, will share his experiences on how to achieve best practice when it comes to multichannel customer service and Eptica’s advanced customer interaction management suite will be demonstrated, showing how companies can both improve efficiency and service levels through an integrated solution. The morning will finish with a question and answer session and the chance to network with other customer service professionals from across Singapore.
The event is free and to find out more and book your ticket simply click here
Organisations today operate in a multi-channel world. Consumers want the freedom to be able to contact them through a whole variety of channels – the web, email, phone, social media, chat and letter. And they want to be able to use different channels for different interactions – so they might ask a general question on a company website and call or email with a specific enquiry about the service they are receiving.
Amidst all the talk of social media and mobile, the importance of web self-service is often overlooked. Yet it is growing fast – research from NICE found that 28% of consumers surveyed in the UK, US and Australia used the web to interact with companies at least once a week. Financial services companies were the most popular destinations, which is fuelling increased investment in technology. Consequently one in five is planning to implement online self-service, web chat or instant messaging in 2013.
This increased investment is dramatically expanding what the web self-service market is worth. According to Gartner analyst Johan Jacobs annual revenue in the sector has risen from $600m in 2010/2011 research to $1 billion in its latest Magic Quadrant, which is due out later in the year. At Eptica we’re seeing similar levels of growth, reporting a 20% turnover increase in 2011 alone.
What is web self-service?
So what does web self-service cover, what are the benefits and how do companies implement it? Obviously web self-service is a key part of Eptica’s product suite and we have extensive experience in the area, but we’ll leave it to Johan Jacobs from Gartner to give his views, as quoted in an interview with Mycustomer.com.
Essentially there are two parts to web customer service. The first is transactional – letting customers access their accounts, check bills and make bookings online. Previously these all had to be handled by a customer service representative, so there are obvious advantages for both the customer (greater control and speed) and company (reduced costs).
The second element of web customer service essentially helps customers to find answers to their queries online. You simply type in your question online into an Ask a Question box and the software analyses it, fetching a relevant answer from a constantly updated knowledgebase of information. Advanced systems such as Eptica’s uses intelligent, meaning-based search to make sure that answers are accurate, fast and constantly updated. Eptica’s knowledgebase is also self-learning, which means it learns from the way it is used, which content is best for answering a specific question.
The benefits for consumers of web self-service are obvious – they can get fast access to the information they need without having to email or call a contact centre. It doesn’t break the customer journey and is seamless part of their browsing experience.
For companies there are double benefits. Happier customers are more likely to buy more from you and more tangibly it reduces costs. As Jacobs points out, a call to the contact centre can cost anywhere between $27-$55 on average. Web self-service removes the need for some of these calls, and the same knowledgebase can also be used to power other channels such as chat. With a single agent able to chat to 5-6 customers online at the same time, the cost of a single web chat falls to $2-5 according to Gartner.
Achieving these benefits relies on the strength of the content within the knowledgebase. Information needs to be comprehensive, kept up to date and always accurate. Jacobs sees knowledge management as “the core building block” – fail to invest in building a strong enough knowledgebase and customers will simply revert to calling your contact centre.
In our experience to get real value, this knowledgebase should span all your customer service channels – delivering consistent information however people want to contact you through. For example, Eptica customer AirAsia has deployed the same knowledgebase across the web self-service, Facebook and mobile channels and is dealing with over 1 million queries every month.
As Gartner’s comments show, web self-service is a market that is growing rapidly – and with more and more channels being introduced ensuring that consistent knowledge spans the whole customer experience is going to be key to successful businesses.
Travel is an industry that has been revolutionised by the internet. Traditional providers such as high street travel agents have had to radically change their business models in order to compete with websites such as Expedia and direct sales from both airlines and accommodation providers such as hotels.
At the same time the web has opened up a new channel for customer service, with travellers able to review and rate their experience through sites such as TripAdvisor as well as through social media.
Clearly in such a competitive landscape providing the perfect customer experience needs to be top of the priority list for every travel company. However new global research from WorldPay uncovers some major gaps between what consumers want and what airlines are providing. It found that 23% of consumers had pulled out of buying a flight on the web after having selected it, with over a third (36%) blaming hidden surcharges for abandoning the transaction. 58% felt that these surcharges weren’t made clear enough, and 88% listed clear pricing as the most important factor in making a purchase, only 1% behind finding the right flight for their needs.
What’s most worrying is the perception gap between airlines and customers. Only 6% of airlines felt that people abandoned purchases due to extra charges (against 36% of customers) and only 18% of airlines saw after sales support as important, compared to an enormous 75% of consumers.
The survey questioned 4,500 passengers in the UK, US, France, Spain, Japan, China, Germany, Brazil and Finland as well as representatives from 51 airlines.
Overall the research shows that many airlines have got a long way to go when it comes to understanding their passengers and providing the service they really require. Deploying technology across the web, mobile and social media channels can help bridge this customer service gap – as shown by Eptica customer AirAsia, which uses centralised self-service software to provide over 1 million instant answers to customer questions every month.
In an era of ever increasing competition with more choice for passengers, other airlines need to look at how technology can help them build a closer relationship with their customers – before they fly to rivals.
Eptica has won the Social Media Customer Service category at the prestigious Asia Pacific Customer Service Consortium (APCSC) Expo International Awards. This award was in recognition of Eptica’s innovative social media customer interaction suite and its successful implementation at low cost airline AirAsia.
By deploying Eptica as a centralised customer Self-service system, AirAsia is now providing fast, consistent customer service across the web, Facebook and mobile channels, 24 hours a day. Over one million enquiries per month are now being managed through the AskAirAsia system. What is critical for consistency of answers is that all these channels share the same knowledgebase. So whether customers ask a question through the web, Facebook or mobile they receive the same answer, through the channel of their choice. This reduces the risk of separate silos of information being created and brings down cost. By using Eptica AirAsia has been able to achieve a significant reduction in contact centre costs, despite dramatically increasing user numbers.
“Social media provides a powerful new channel for delivering customer service that enables organisations to get closer to their customers,” said Olivier Njamfa, President and CEO, Eptica. “However it is vital that it integrates with the overall customer service strategy, sharing information with other channels to provide a consistent and accurate experience. Winning the prestigious APCSC award is the perfect recognition of the success AirAsia has achieved – by centralising customer service knowledge and then delivering fast answers it ensures excellent and efficient service through the customer’s channel of choice.”
As a fast growing business, AirAsia has invested heavily in new areas such as Facebook and mobile for customer service. Its iPhone app, which uses Eptica Self-service to provide an optimised experience when customers ask service questions via their phones, has proved incredibly popular and at launch was the No 1 selling app in the iPhone App store for Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. AirAsia has already received multiple awards for its customer service excellence, including the Customer Lover award at the inaugural WITovation awards, organised by Singapore-based content and community platform Web In Travel (WIT).
Founded 14 years ago, the Asia Pacific Customer Service Consortium aims to promote service quality and customer relationship excellence across Asia Pacific and to recognise and reward companies, business units, teams, and individuals that have contributed to the success of both their customers and the organisations that they serve. APCSC jointly offers the most recognised global certifications for CRM, Customer Service, Contact Centre, Support Services with global education partners and international membership organisations to set standards world-wide.
The APCSC Expo Innovation Customer Relationship Excellence (CRE) Awards are one of APCSC’s key activities, recognising and rewarding industry leaders and professionals for their customer centric service innovation. Winners from across Asia Pacific were announced at a ceremony in Hong Kong on 14 June 2012 that was held as part of the CRE & CPQS Asia Pacific Leadership Summit. Eptica CEO Olivier Njamfa also spoke at the Summit on how companies can successfully manage multichannel customer service in the increasingly complex and ‘always on’ world.
As well as AirAsia’s success, the Social Media Customer Service award recognises Eptica’s innovative technology, including its Social Media Interaction Management suite. This enables companies to listen, respond and interact successfully with customers and prospects on social media. With complete end-to-end conversation tracking and interaction management it allows organisations to proactively identify customer opportunities, quickly act to solve customer complaints before they become serious issues and ensure social media engagement is a success.
Organisations across the world are grappling with how to best use social media for customer service. In an era where consumers are increasingly using networks such as Facebook and Twitter to share their experiences, good and bad, how should companies respond? Who should handle enquiries? How can processes be changed to ensure that enquiries are dealt with quickly to keep customers happy, while still integrating with other channels and ensuring efficient operations? With recent research finding that 70% of complaints aired on social media are going unanswered, many companies obviously still need to focus on how they deal with this new channel.
For those worried about where to start, the best idea is to see social customer service as a journey. Everything doesn’t need to be done at once, but it is important to start the journey now – as Gartner states, “By 2013, at least 35% of customer service centres will integrate some form of community/social capabilities as a part of the contact centre solution.”
Step 1: Stem the flow of high volume, low value contact
Many organisations have already deployed self-service systems on their websites, improving the online customer experience while reducing service costs. Essentially high volume, low value questions can be dealt with quickly, accurately and automatically, without the need for customers to call or email the contact centre.
With organisations finding that up to ten times the number of consumers are visiting their Facebook page compared to their website, it makes sense to deploy self-service software on your Facebook page too. But not as a standalone solution – add your existing self-service solution to your Facebook page to maximise the benefits of using a centralised knowledgebase and response management workflow.
Step 2: Let people champion your web self-service answers within social media
Give customers the opportunity to Like and Retweet your self-service content through a single mouse click, spreading your knowledge consistently through Facebook and Twitter. Harvest and analyse information from social media communities for your own customer service use, learning from your users.
Step 3: Use the power of your customers
Create clear links from customer service information in your web self-service pages to social media communities such as Facebook. Use this as an escalation strategy that demonstrates your commitment and channels people to your social media community to continue the conversation.
Step 4: Deploy your self-service knowledgebase to communicate service information across ALL service channels
Make your self-service knowledgebase accessible through every service channel. So whether it is responding to a question via self-service, email, phone, the web, Facebook or mobile, customer service information is always up to date and consistent, improving efficiency and quality of service and providing a scalable, easy to administer platform.
This means that service levels remain constantly high as all queries are routed through the same interface to customer service agents. They follow the same, straightforward processes to answer queries, removing the need to undergo additional training and ensuring consistency across channels.
Step 5: Effective management of incoming enquiries via social media to your customer service team
The rise of Facebook means that for many customers it is the preferred method of communication and interaction with companies. Consequently, organisations need to embrace it and use its features to better talk to their customers in a proactive as well as reactive manner. Use it to push out updates on products or services, such as changed opening hours or timetables, in the case of travel companies, to strengthen relationships with customers.
Step 6: Listen for conversations and questions
Social media provides an unparalleled opportunity to listen to and better understand customers but many organisations cannot cope with the sheer volume of noise generated across social media platforms. For most companies, the majority of tweets are not customer service related – for example, 70 per cent of McDonalds mentions are simply directional. Use software such as Eptica Social Observer to cut through this social media noise to identify relevant mentions of your company, brands or products.
Step 7: Enabling enterprise wide conversations
Some questions may be too specific or specialist to be answered by service agents or social media staff, but require escalation to subject experts within your organisation. Adding new channels such as social media shouldn’t add complexity, cost or time to the customer service process. To ensure that queries reach the right person and are successfully answered requires a robust, overarching workflow.
Step 8: Analyse
Finally, to complete the loop you need to analyse performance. Use multichannel analytics to provide a complete view of overall customer service across all channels, allowing managers to drill down to specific areas and even individual cases or agents. This ensures total, real-time control of customer service, whatever channel your customers decide to use.
In the same way as the introduction of corporate websites changed how companies communicated in the 1990s, social media is creating a seismic shift in the relationship between your customers and your company. For every organisation, now is the time to begin the social customer service journey. To provide advice on making social customer service a success Eptica has written an in-depth white paper on the subject. Click here to download a copy now.
Whatever sector you are in successfully managing customer service across multiple channels is a key differentiator in today’s competitive business environment. Customers want the ability to contact you – and get answers to their questions – whether they are using the web, email, phone or social media. And they want these answers to be delivered quickly or they will simply go elsewhere.
However companies have to balance this need for multi-channel service with efficiency, optimising the contact centre in order to reduce expenditure. How can companies deliver these two very different business imperatives – improved service and reduced costs – successfully?
The answer is by adopting a joined-up approach that spans all customer service channels, re-using centralised information to provide consistent answers however customers decide to contact you. A great example of this is leading low cost airline AirAsia, which has deployed Eptica Self-service as a centralised online hub. This enables it to provide fast, consistent customer service across the web, Facebook and mobile channels, 24 hours a day, while reducing costs by 40%. Over one million enquiries per month are now being managed through the AskAirAsia system, showing the positive impact that multi-channel customer service can deliver.
The strategy and reasons behind AirAsia’s success will be covered as part of a workshop being given by Eptica’s UK managing director, Paul Barnes, at the Call Centre and Customer Service Summit 2012 on 24th April 2012. The workshop, How to Achieve Successful Web, Social Media and Mobile Customer Service will take place at 11am in the Melbourne Room, Whittlebury Hall Hotel. Find out more at http://www.eptica.com/CCCS-Summit-2012.html
AirGate Solutions works with airlines and airports to develop customer engagement strategies that go beyond traditional programs, enabling them to engage with customers and change the passenger experience for the better. AirGate Solutions will add Eptica’s multi channel customer interaction software to its portfolio, enabling its customers to transform how they interact with their passengers; improving the customer experience, reducing service costs and enabling airlines and airports to deliver great service which ever channels their customers use.
Eptica already works with leading airlines such as AirAsia, who has deployed Eptica Self-service as a centralised online hub to provide fast, consistent customer service across the web, Facebook and mobile channels, 24 hours a day. Over one million enquiries per month are now being managed through the AskAirAsia system.
“As Eptica looked to duplicate our success with AirAsia we felt it important that we partnered with a company that understood the core issues of the aviation industry and could help organisations maximise the potential Eptica software could deliver,” stated Tim North Director of Global Channels and Alliances at Eptica. “Our agreement with AirGate Solutions supports our key 2012 aims of growing our partner channel and expanding our global reach, particularly in North America.”
The AirGate Solutions brand is synonymous with “Changing the Passenger Experience”. AirGate work with airlines, airport and travel companies to develop customer engagement strategies and thereby create data to understand and act on the preferences of their customers. By utilising technologies and customer engagement platforms, such as social media, we enable airlines, airports and travel companies to operate from up-to-date, accurate, and thorough customer data, adapting to shifts in customer behaviour and preferences, while improving customer services delivered and driving new revenue streams.
“Our partnership with Eptica is a perfect fit with our customer service strategy. AirGate Solutions is very focused on customer engagement, customer service and customer metrics. We expect that, together with Eptica, we will become the pre-eminent source of customer service applications for airlines and airports,” said Robert Cook, Managing Director of AirGate Solutions.
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