For many businesses, like Amazon, John Lewis and Waitrose - which recently topped the Institute of Customer Service ‘UK customer Satisfaction Index’, making customers happy is a crucial part of how they operate. How do they do it?

I think some of the basics are glaringly obvious once we notice them. Ultimately, it’s all about experience. You need to make your customers’ lives easier, don’t overcomplicate things, engage with them on a personal level and focus your attention on providing a great experience that they will remember.

1. Make customer service intelligent and seamless

Not all channels are created equal. What I can do on a tablet may be radically different than what I can do in the IVR but the intelligence of what I’m doing, looking at or buying, needs to travel seamlessly from channel to channel. This is not rocket science but most organisations are still built in silos where achieving a clear omni-channel experience is virtually impossible. A major UK mobile provider STILL has a separate department for IVR even though they have a very joined up digital and social offering. For me the litmus test is whether I need to re-enter anything or repeat it to a representative.

2. To know me is to love me

Data, data, data. Why do we love Amazon and eBay? They know us and treat us as individuals. The world has moved on from when customers considered it creepy that an automated system knew who they were or remembered their preferences. Use my phone number. Use my purchasing history. Even calculate that if I buy certain recurring items at the end of every month, you can proactively reach out and help me with a possible shopping list (if I opt in). I don’t want the same experience as everyone else.

Also, the journey that led the customer to buy isn’t often begun on a whim. There is a driver. An ad they’ve seen, someone’s birthday or it may be that the purchase is part of something bigger such as going on holiday and needing a new suitcase. Knowing the reason for the browsing behaviour or purchase allows us to deepen and broaden the engagement with appropriate upsell. Leveraging data from outside our own CRM can make incredible things possible.

3. Respond instantly to social media

We no longer have control of isolating opinion and complaint. The organisations in the winner’s circle are the ones that respond swiftly to social media complaints and kudos. The company that ignores the public voice does so at it’s own peril.

4. Always give the customer control

The customer feels empowered in-store. The staff are there to serve them. If they don’t feel they’re getting the service they require, they’re out the door and going online to buy from someone else. It’s personalisation and empowerment extended to all channels that keeps the customer coming back. The online, mobile and IVR services must let the user control every part of the experience. For example the in-store salesperson would never simply say “Goodbye” and push a customer out the door. Likewise never have the IVR hang up pre-emptively on a customer. Always offer relevant options tailored to their choices and tasks performed, or if appropriate offer THEM the choice to hang up. And in a mobile interaction, if a customer is stuck or could advance their progress beyond the capabilities of the device, offer them video chat in the app or a call back from a representative.

5. Don’t be afraid to innovate

The tech world is moving so fast that it’s nearly impossible to keep up, but innovation is everywhere. I recently downloaded “FLOW” powered by Amazon, on to my phone. It allows me to look through the phone’s camera, at any product and it will show it to me in the Amazon store. If you’re worried about “show-rooming” by customers, look away! Equally amazing is eBay’s foray into interactive store windows. Stand at the window, look at the item, pay by credit card or Paypal. The item can be delivered or just walk inside the store to pick it up. It’s essential to accept new channels and technologies as they gain traction.

6. The Brand is the brand

How many times have you picked up the phone to call customer service only to find that the voice, or persona, of the IVR is entirely removed from what you would expect from the other brand impressions (ads, web etc.). It’s just careless not to match the sound of the audio channel to the attributes of the brand. The ads and website are not accidental why should the sound and language of the IVR be left to chance or tangential.

So there you have it. Make it easy and seamless. Personalise with data driven experiences. Be responsive to social channels. Keep the customer in control. Innovate with new technologies and maintain brand consistency through every channel. Your customers will thank you.

A shortened version of this blog appeared on eSeller in March 2014.


Topics: IVR Examples