In a world where businesses grow more alienated from their customers every day, the rise of AI and chatbots threaten to cut out human connection entirely.
One single negative customer experience can result in the loss of a potential loyal and lucrative client, and these are the times when businesses need human intervention.
Automated customer service can increase productivity and enable faster customer transaction, but there are times when customers need and indeed prefer to speak directly to another person. In complex customer interactions, such as time-critical issues and complaints, the human connection is superior.
A 2018 study  found that when customers contact a business with a problem they expect three things; a rapid resolution to their problem, personalised customer service and an overall experience that requires little effort from them. Frequently, businesses are unable to meet these seemingly reasonable expectations, often pushing customers towards online forms, FAQs or other web resources which mean more work for the already-frustrated customer. They are subjected to long response times, sub-standard levels of customer service and we make them do all the work.
Recent research found that while customers are increasingly using other channels to contact businesses, (perhaps because they have little choice), phone is still the most preferred commonly used channel. Despite this, the effectiveness of the voice channel appears to be declining causing customer frustration to grow.
Rather than seeing the voice channel, the customer contact centre, as a costly business utility, it should be seen as a goldmine for creating positive customer interactions.
Every call taken presents an opportunity for service providers to emerge as a hero for their customers and save the day, dozens of times a day. With the right tools at your fingertips you can give your clients an effective and efficient service, ultimately creating a ’super’ customer experience for your clients.
The power to read minds or personalised customer service: Providing a personalised experience for the person on the other end of the line doesn’t require a huge effort or limitless funds. It is as simple as accessing and using the information that you already have on hand in your CRM. Seemingly tiny actions like calling the customer by their name and referring to their previous interactions with your business can add massive value to your customers’ phone experience, letting them know that you care about them and their needs and want to help them solve their problem.
Service that is faster than a speeding bullet or a rapid resolution to their problem:Like it or not we live in a time where people are not willing to wait for a response to their enquiry or a solution to their problem, which is why they pick up the phone. A Gartner study found that almost one-third of people believe that waiting on hold for more than two minutes is too long. This means that your business cannot afford to keep your customers waiting for an indeterminate amount of time. You need to have visibility around how long your clients are waiting. Using the Natterbox app, an online wine retailer managed to halve their call waiting time from 60 seconds to between 20-30 seconds and as a direct result of this saw their call drop rate reduce dramatically from 30 per cent the 3 per cent almost immediately.
Super strength or the ability to take the burden off the customer:Customers don’t want to have to do all of the work when it comes to resolving their problem, it’s the reason why they contacted you in the first place – so that you can fix their problem. This doesn’t have to mean more work for you, it can be as simple as not making customers repeat their details over and over to different representatives, knowing their purchasing history and the reason for their call. By taking the burden off them, you lighten their load and make their whole experience easier.
By putting the customer back at the centre of the business and using business tools to enhance your abilities, you’ll provide them with a wonderful customer experience, with very little effort. The result: the business creates customer loyalty by exceeding the customer’s expectations and providing them with ongoing, added value.
Charles Heunemann is the Managing Director & Vice President Asia Pacific for Natterbox Limited.
 The Northridge Group’s State of Customer Service Experience 2018