Your contact center is THE place for gauging the health of your relationship with customers – and identifying and prioritizing improvement opportunities across the enterprise.
The contact center is the heart of your customer experience and has the ability to inform and improve the rest of the business. Learn how you can use holistic Voice of the Customer (VOC) insights in order to transform your contact center from a cost center into a revenue driver – and turn customer feedback into actionable strategies that move the needle for your brand.
This article will unveil how you can use holistic Voice of the Customer (VOC) insights to transform your contact center from a cost center into a revenue driver — and turn customer feedback into actionable strategies that move the needle for your brand.
Read this article to learn:
- How VOC can help to uncover blind spots in customer service
- Why digital-first strategies rely on contact centers
- What bottom line benefits can flow from holistic VOC insights
The Heart is Beating!!
The contact center is the HEART of an organization’s customer experience (CX) strategy.
Since most of us are not in the medical profession, and maybe it’s been a long time since we took a biology class, let’s try to remember what the heart does for the body. The heart is the organ that receives and pumps blood to the rest of the anatomy, keeping the rest of the body and individual organs supplied with oxygenated blood, necessary for survival.
The contact center plays a similar role for a customer-centric organization as the heart does for the body. After all, cultivating great customer experiences requires an ecosystem in sync with your customer’s thoughts and emotions – which are often as dynamic as your business.
THE CONTACT CENTER IS THE HEART OF CUSTOMER DATA
The contact center plays a central role in providing valuable customer intelligence for the organization. The proof points are in both how the contact center is positioned within an organization, and in the customer support that is provided by your agents.
The contact center provides a continuous feed of your customer needs, desires, and issues.
If your organization wants to understand the following, the contact center should be the first stop:
- What are your customers talking about? What trends are they responding to?
- What questions or inquiries are customers bringing forward?
- What is the impact of the problems or issues that customers are experiencing?
- What sentiment is reflected across the customer journey, and why?
Your contact center is where customers share the most about their experiences.
Customers are reaching out because they have questions or are struggling with products / services – or because they had confusing or negative experiences with another channel. By capturing and sharing the reason for the contact with the rest of the organization, the contact center can lead greater understanding of what requires attention, and where to focus improvement efforts. Oftentimes there have been multiple attempts to connect, many signs of trouble already collected, yet this data is detached from other touch-points. Imagine what other areas of the company can learn from the contact center if this feedback was provided to them!
A complete contact center solution, like NICE CXone, captures a lot of different types of data to help an organization understand and manage omnichannell customer experiences.
Such an integrated ecosystem provides details about how the call was initiated, and carries data on what the customer experienced from other systems, or operational data (i.e., queues selected, wait times, transfers, etc.). Additional CX data funnels what transpired during the interaction with the agent (indirect feedback from call recordings and interaction analytics), quality management scores, and feedback from surveys executed after completion of the interaction (via IVR, email, chat, SMS, web, social messaging, etc.).
All these sources help an organization to understand why calls are made, how calls are handled – both in terms of system efficiencies, and agent performance – and how the collective experience makes customers feel. This information combined becomes a synergetic catalyst with the ability to isolate opportunities to:
MAINTAIN WHAT IS EFFECTIVE
- Interactions handled well and with first contact (FCR)
- Agents performing at the highest level
- Operationally effective interactions
IDENTIFY AREAS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO ADDRESS
- Interactions that do not meet the customer need
- Interactions that upset customers or lead to high levels of dissatisfaction
- Agents that may benefit from coaching
Like oxygenated blood, the contact center channel is data rich.
- DIRECT FEEDBACK
- INDIRECT FEEDBACK
- OPERATIONAL FEEDBACK
THE INFLUENCE AND IMPACT OF VOC INSIGHTS
Additionally, the data available within the contact center – particularly call reason codes and the associated actions and outcomes – are critical to generating CX insights that can be operationalized for the rest of the organization, across other channels, products and services, and influential teams.
As the heart of the organization, opportunities to operationalize what we learn from the customers’ contact center experiences are both broad and deep. Contact center VOC insights influence and impact:
- Enterprise customer experience, including identification of blind spots and associated root causes
- Digital-first strategies and digital channel experience innovation
- Business and revenue – for the contact center and beyond
Read on to dig deeper into more detail about the impact of the contact center in delivering exceptional omnichannel experiences that can transform your brand, at scale.
“…Customer service will evolve from a cost center into a profit center by having greater responsibility for the customer relationship and journey.” – Gartner. Source: Garnter Predicts 80% of Customer Service Organizations Will Abandon Native Mobile Apps in Favor of Messaging by 2025, Press Release, Jan 12, 2021, Gartner
Uncovering Blind Spots
An organization’s contact center should be considered an invaluable source for isolating negative customer experience, problems, issues, and opportunities. These “blind spots” can quickly develop into rising customer attrition, diminishing loyalty, and an overall weakening to a brand’s position in competitive markets.
As mentioned earlier, customers usually reach out to the contact center in response to friction experienced outside of the contact center – at any number of touch points across the entire journey. Therefore, if your organization is not currently paying close attention to reasons for calls, and what customers are saying when they call, you are likely to miss out on some really insightful information that could both trigger and support continuous CX improvement efforts.
Specifically, contact center CX can help organizations:
- Quantify and isolate problems and issues
- Identify the root cause of problems and issues
- Track progress in making improvements
Call type (data such as call reason codes), interaction analytics and direct feedback collected post interaction can come together to support a greater understanding of customer friction. These different types of data all tell a different story, but all are necessary to complete the whole story of the complete customer experience.
- Operational: The volume of calls by call type can help to quantify the size or severity of an issue. If many customers call about a similar issue in a short window of time, it can highlight the scope of the problem or the issue, in terms of customer impact and coverage.
- Indirect: Interaction analytics of the customers’ conversation with the contact center agent also helps to inform an understanding by the category of the call. In addition, indirect data can be classified by the customers’ tone during the conversation. Speech-to-text capabilities – paired with a strong real-time analytics engine – help to ensure that organizations can isolate problems aligned with both context and tone.
- Direct: Feedback collected after an interaction, such via a post-call survey, chat, or SMS, can elevate an understanding of how the customer feels about the interaction – whether they believe that the issue or problem was resolved, along with their intentions or next steps based on the experience. Integrated IVR survey capabilities conducted immediately following a contact center interaction are critical to the CX pulse, reflecting customer-defined priorities, perceptions and motivations in the moment.
The convergent validity of these three feedback sources helps organizations to better distinguish when issues arise, as well as the severity and impact of the issues. Additionally, these sources, when combined, can help the greater organization to isolate the root cause of the friction.
Integrated IVR survey capabilities conducted immediately following a contact center interaction are critical to the CX pulse, reflecting customer-defined priorities, perceptions and motivations in the moment.
IDENTIFYING ROOT CAUSE
Is it simply not enough to recognize when problems and issues occur; companies must actively work to isolate the root cause so that they know where and how to fix the right things. The data-rich contact center environment is a perfect first stop in exploring root cause.
Customers find it easy to talk with agents about what they experienced and why they believe the issue demands attention. This information, coupled with subsequent feedback, can help point continuous improvement efforts in the right direction. However, Voice of the Agent or Employee will also be valuable in understanding what issues arise and what specific response may not be working, leading to negative customer experiences. Isolating root cause is a critical step in a continuous improvement process that prioritizes efforts to appropriately address the right broken thing.
Once problems and issues are identified and their root causes isolated, action can be taken to transform the customer experience. From this point, it is important to have a holistic Voice of the Customer solution so that improvement progress can be both measured and monitored.
Once solutions are put in place to mitigate customer issues, it is expected that the associated customer service calls will drop, and that overall customer sentiment and satisfaction will improve. It is important to have the right reporting mechanism in place such that the impact and the benefit of changes can be recognized. For example, NICE Satmetrix provides a holistic view of customer feedback captured all along the journey, including direct, indirect, and operational feedback results, that allows organizations to track progress based on continuous improvement efforts – specifically in the actions taken to address the root cause of customer friction. It is important to have all this data in one place because all three perspectives highlight the progress of change.
It is important to have all forms of feedback – direct, indirect, and operational – in one place because all three perspectives highlight the progress of change.
Another benefit of a technology solution that brings different data sources and perspectives together into one common source is the ability to effectively share results both within and outside of the contact center. As previously mentioned, customers are not typically calling about problems or issues with the contact center itself, but with other experiences – that often culminate in the contact center.
- A closed-loop feedback process implemented across the enterprise ensures that customer wins can then become business gains – connecting the dots from the contact center and beyond.
It is important to have a technology solution in place that allows for data and insights to be packaged and shared with those parts of the organization that can best close the loop on priority issues. For complaints about a specific product, those results need to be shared with the associated product team. For issues related to the digital channel, the digital teams need to be notified. Just as it is not enough to simply identify the friction, but also identify a root cause, the same is true for sharing actionable insights with those who can address the necessary response.
As the heart of the organization, the contact center helps to collectively support a continuous improvement process by providing visibility into issues, so that the best mechanisms can be employed to mitigate risks that are eroding business performance. With greater exposure comes greater impact. When visibility is extended to the entire organization, the right roles can take the right actions in the right ways to influence the right solutions. A closed-loop feedback process implemented across the enterprise ensures that customer wins can then become business gains – connecting the dots from the contact center and beyond.
Many VOC programs benefit from dashboards that can be tuned to drive tactical execution and strategic decisions. Such systems initiate the most appropriate actions automatically, using alerts when customer ratings, words, actions, and trends exceed thresholds – aligning the best actions with roles, priorities, and escalations to meet service level agreements.
Digital-First Strategies Rely on Contact Centers
Today, nearly every organization is focused on building out and executing on a digital-first strategy (especially so since the impact of the global pandemic). Digital-first strategies focus on opportunities to enable a self-reliant customer experience, allowing customers to interact and transact digitally.
“During 2020, 92% of contact centers reported increased volume of interactions of all types.” – Source: NICE inContact 2020 Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark, Survey of Global Businesses
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION DRIVES CONTACT CENTER TRANSFORMATION
Given the focus of digital transformation strategies, it is easy to mistakenly think that person-to-person interactions will completely go away. This is an altogether false conclusion. Instead, digital-first strategies will reshape the focus of all other touchpoints.
For an organization with a fully-actualized digitalfirst strategy, the contact center will undergo its own transformation in the following ways:
- Launch digital contact center experiences – Contact centers will continue to provide experiences via voice, but digital interactions will continue to gain ground in channels like SMS, chat, and social messaging. Further, self-service via digital channels will continue to grow as today’s customers are looking for speed and ease so they can resolve issues themselves.
- Build competency in troubleshooting digital experiences – Contact centers will help answer questions about digital experiences, as well as troubleshoot digital experiences that did not meet customer’s expectations.
- Focus on more advanced and complicated customer services – Digital-first strategies are about enabling self-service capabilities for transactional aspects of customer interactions. However, for more advanced customer service support, self-enablement may be more difficult, if not impossible. For example, a financial services digital-first strategy might be to enable account access, bill pay, and even more complex transactions, such as opening new accounts. It is unlikely though that more nuanced service touch points, such as reporting, handling, and fraud resolution would ever be self-enabled. With the re-focus and purpose on more advanced and critical experiences, on-site location staff and contact center agents will need to focus more on the experiences that customers are not able to tackle on their own.
…digital-first strategies will reshape the focus of all other touchpoints – including the contact center
The contact center plays an important role within organizations that are focused on digital transformation. Using Voice of the Customer in your contact center will provide a source of understanding and amplify what is working and what problems or issues need attention.
Customers who fail at self-service through a digital channel will pick up the phone or leverage a chat feature to get support. Additionally, the contact center becomes primary support for those digital channels when features and functionality are ineffective or unavailable (during expected or unexpected downtime).
As the heart of the organization, the contact center can help to support digital-first strategies, and their advancement and innovation, by pumping information to the digital channel partners:
- Volume of calls related to digital experiences – The contact center can provide a gauge of the effectiveness of the digital channel. The volume of calls coming into the contact center about the digital channel can be an indicator of how well the organization is delivering on its digital first (and digital only) strategies.
- Summary of reported problems or issues – Call recordings and feedback related to call reason, descriptions of issue experiences, and customer expectations are all critical inputs for digital developers. The user experience is often a key differentiator, and these inputs improve their ability to identify the most meaningful areas to improve UX, as well as future innovation opportunities.
- Summary of questions – Many customers may call after they first try to find the information themselves via the company website, or in response to email outreach. As digital-first strategists work to identify areas that continue to self-enable customers, these teams can learn a lot from understanding what questions customers ask when they call. Web developers and digital marketing teams may work to refine website structure or improve content in response to this feedback data.
- Early warning or emerging issues – In many cases, the contact center can serve as an early warning source when customers will call in response to an outage or dysfunction. For example, a company may not realize that digital payments are not being captured when customers try to buy a product online because the website is still active and working. The contact center can help to escalate necessary attention when the volume of calls increase dramatically over a short period of time.
- Calls that should be digital-enabled – Improvement opportunities can emerge from identifying calls that could be customer-enabled, and managed instead via digital channels. Every contact center manager can probably list a number of reasons for calls that they wish customers would be able to do on their own through a self-enabled channel.
Toyota Financial Services was able to:
- Improve customer and agent experience
- Elevate effective customer retention efforts
- Reduce customer churn By centralizing their customer experience data and sharing it with representatives in real-time.
Making an Impact
Organizations can learn so much from the contact center about customer experience, servicing events, and the overall CX health of the brand. Holistic VOC insights have a unique ability to impact business value and inspire a shared understanding that can be translated into business and financial impact. And, with these VOC insights generated through the contact center, the entire business can benefit from harmonized processes and structures that elevate customercentricity, enterprise-wide – such as:
- Operational effectiveness
- Organization opportunities
- Increased retention rates
- Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
- Personalization opportunities
Contact center leaders are focused on controlling and/or reducing operating costs. Inferred data and quality management results can help identify operational improvement opportunities. Key metrics, like First Contact Resolution (FCR), wait times, and interaction times can help identify opportunities to improve operations and reduce costs.
Insights from the contact center help the organization to identify and quantify issues, and determine how to deliver a better customer experience. VOC insights provide input to a continuous improvement process as part of the value of a complete contact center solution that leverages direct, indirect, and operational feedback – to both contextualize and operationalize improvement opportunities. As part of the action planning process, the organization should analyze the cost-benefit of addressing customer feedback, as well as greater systemic issues.
Increased retention rates
The contact center not only helps to identify systemic improvement opportunities to share with the organization, but most importantly, it identifies individual customers who are unhappy and potentially at risk for churn. As previously mentioned, customers call the contact center with issues that they cannot resolve with self-service or with specific complaints about other touchpoints or experiences. When customers are unhappy, it is important for the organization to close the loop and remediate their individual issues. A contact center solution with feedback management allows the organization to address customer issues in near real-time, ensuring that they’re not left to intensify. Retaining high-value customers has an obvious positive impact on revenue, but the true power of a holistic VOC program is the ability to drive a company-wide focus on customers and capture deeper CX insights that can help deliver more bottom-line impact.
Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
Insights from the contact center can also help to identify opportunities for deepening relationships with customers. Customers who are very happy and who make inquiries about other products or services during their interactions are ripe for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Very experienced agents may be able to offer recommendations about additional best-fitting products and services during the conversation; however, interaction analytics from call center recordings and/or post-call feedback, can help shape proactive outreach to customers who are predicted to be open to new products and services. Growth through existing relationships can be a significant source of new revenue informed by contact center experiences.
Beyond informing individual and systemic close-loop processes to improve experiences, a contact center solution provides an opportunity for highly-personalized treatment of customers from the point of the interaction, to the conversational feedback captured, to the action taken on their behalf. Through AI technology, contact centers can tailor interactions and subsequent handling based on predictive modeling to deliver best-in-breed experiences.
87% of consumers are willing to buy more products if they have an exceptional customer service experience. – Source: 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark, Global Consumers
With one holistic VOC program that is centralized, you can get a 360 degree view of the customer, instead of disconnected data points that don’t tell the complete story – so your brand interactions can be harmonized through the customer lens. And, with common CX data that is inclusive of all customer touch points, you can collaborate to drive competitive differentiation, as well as business results. From multiple sources, get one complete view of CX to know what most impacts NPS®, CSAT, and what actions should be taken to boost the bottom line.
With a holistic VOC solution from NICE Satmetrix, you are empowered with the ability to get and connect feedback from multiple touchpoints. And, when you can take action on the insights surfaced, you can enhance the customer experience, strengthen relationships, build loyalty, and impact the KPIs that matter most – turning the contact center into a value driver.