Executive Interview : Andrew MacDowell - Strategic Solutions Executive, Aditya Birla Minacs On Customer Service
In your opinion, how has customer service changed over the last 5 years and why do you think it is so?
Customer service has changed drastically over the last five years and this change is driven by the evolution of consumers and their expectations. Consumers today are very sophisticated; they have access to a plethora of information online and are vocal about their choices, preferences and experiences. They are readily able and likely to explore and learn about new products and services. Consumer protection initiatives are further increasing awareness and driving transparency to consumers. Customer service has had to evolve to cater to this new consumer.
Markets have also evolved. Products and service offerings in the general marketplace have become customer focused with each fighting to get the consumer’s attention. This has made great customer service a competitive edge.
The last 5 years has seen the continued technical evolution of customer service delivery channels or touch points such as social media, sms, email, chat and self-serve integrated voice response (IVR). These multiple channels and touch points are managed in an environment that has made significant changes in technology to address the continued pressure to drive revenue and expenditure efficiencies.
What do you view as the biggest area for improvement in the industry when looking at customer service excellence?
The separation between the circle of managing revenue, reducing expenses, and improving customer satisfaction continues to be a difficult balance. Many organizations will look at the first and second over the third, making a decision to win short term gains. However, those who can make well balanced decisions to invest in customer service will ultimately win in the marketplace. When speaking of customer service excellence specifically, call centre companies need to ensure they are generating and maintaining a positive customer service environment. In other words, "happy agents make happy customers".
Dealing with customer issues, concerns, and complaints is a very difficult job, and paying attention to the little things our people need of us is an integral way to ensuring they are happy, productive, and can perform in a way that we can expect world class service to be delivered to each individual customer – one at a time. Additionally, it is important for the call centre industry to educate its clients on channels of communication they may not be using today which, in turn, when unmanaged is likely to have negative impacts on business growth and overall customer service (if customers can’t contact their company in the venue they chose, they are likely not to contact them at all).
What 3 tips would you give a contact center manager to help ensure their front line professionals are providing consistent customer service?
- Hiring the right talent is critical to providing superior customer service. The talent then needs to be continually trained on all aspects of the client and the product/service. Keeping up to speed on technology, products, and customer needs can only be done effectively by passing the information along to the people who are speaking to customers.
- Build a model of best practices on customer service that includes best and worst servicing examples and keep it updated. Listen to calls EVERY day and provide immediate feedback and delivery immediate recognition publicly. Set the tone that exceptional customer service is an expectation and maintain your message continuously and consistently.
- Your employees are your competitive edge; invest in them and build a good employee experience to deliver consistent customer service. Consider things such as your facility, your benefits, and your incentive plan as the major triggers of satisfaction, attrition, absenteeism, and overall performance.
Which of the following do you feel has the greatest impact on customer service improvements: people, process, or technology and why?
All 3 components are integral ones to achieve the highest standard in today’s competitive customer service landscape. However, in breaking each one down, one immerges as the clear priority; people. For example, if you were to invest in today’s best technology and delivered processed through every single six sigma design possible but had hired poor inexperienced people to do the job, the technology and process would be wasted and ultimately the customer would suffer. On the other hand, if you hire the right talent from the beginning, they can help you build process, they can temporarily work without technology, and the customer will not necessarily know the difference. Take, as an example, companies like Google when they were considered "startup" and did not have immediate capital to have all of the things they needed. Hiring the right people will always lead to long term success.
The term "customer service excellence" can sometimes be seen as a contradictory statement. Do you agree/disagree and why?
I agree that the term is seen as contradictory on occasion. The reason for that is the lack of true focus on the customer experience over time. Thinking of my own experiences in life of how long I have to hold to speak to someone at an average call centre, or how, when I do speak to someone, they don’t seem to really care whether or not my needs are fulfilled. Most customer servicing frontline people, departments, and companies fail because they have forgotten the true nature of their purpose; the customer! The most successful companies today have their customer in mind in everything they do; product development, marketing, sales, and ultimately servicing. While the term "customer service excellence" can sometimes be seen contradictory, it is certainly not seen that way consistently. One simply needs to take five minutes thinking on their own "best case" and "worst case" customer service experiences to realize there are many companies that get it right every time.
Strategic Solutions Executive at Aditya Birla Minacs
At Minacs, Andrew is responsible for managing Financial Services relationships, industry technological advancement initiatives, and revenue generating programs.
Andrew has over a decade of senior management experience in the financial services and credit card industries with Fortune(R) 500 financial institutions such as MBNA Corporation and Bank of America.
View his profile here https://www.contactcenterworld.com/profile/a.macdowell/
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Minacs is a business solutions company that partners with global corporations in the manufacturing, retail, telecom, technology, media and entertainment, banking, insurance, healthcare and public sectors. We leverage years of process, domain and technology expertise to deliver superior business value to clients with our seamless Customer Lifecycle, Marketing, Finance and Accounting, Procurement and IT solutions and services. 21,000 Minacs experts across 10 countries and 35 centers spanning Canada, Germany, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Philippines, the UK and USA power our solutions through a global delivery model that helps our clients enhance revenues, profitability and customer service
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012