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Lee Farrell, VP, Engineering Services and Solutions Division, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Becoming the Voice of the Customer
By Dawn Bradney, VP of Customer Support and Audit, McKesson
Customer experience is crucial to drive a company’s success today. Enterprises across the globe have recognized that a happy customer base is tantamount to a flourishing business. Although, most organizations build their business strategy around customer experience, it has been observed that very few of them have been able to strike the right chords with the customers. Technology consortiums, oftentimes, are poised to bring the next-gen application or system to the fore, but their inability to engage with customers and understand their needs has led to the downfall of many organizations. Now is the time for technology firms to come out of their slumber and work closely with customer service teams, aggregate feedbacks, and devise solutions that not only meet consumer demands but also delight them.
The Current Technological Trends
As the VP of Customer Support and Audit at McKesson, my job revolves around developing our customer service strategy and finding the next generation technology that can add value to our customer experience. That being said, this is the most challenging area for the senior leadership. As technology tools, platforms, and applications abound in today’s world, CIOs, CEOs, and other top executives easily get overwhelmed by the number of options available to them. There are many unseen factors as well that gets masked in the shining light of trending technology. For instance, trends suggest that AI and machine learning are the next big thing, however the truth is that these two technologies work great in the B2C domain, while on the other hand B2B modeled organizations may need to look for other alternatives. This makes decision making extraordinarily difficult for the business leaders. Therefore, it is quintessential to tap into the unique requirements of the concerned industry and chalk out a roadmap that assists businesses to achieve the desired goal.
The focus should never be JUST on targets, rather it must be geared towards customer experience that creates a convivial atmosphere during an interaction and allows your representatives to become the voice of customers
Challenges Associated with Customer Experience
Within my division of McKesson, we have a technical call center that provides services to government programs in the healthcare domain. Therefore, to ensure that every customer interaction is delightful, the customer service representatives are equipped with the knowledge of various regulations in the healthcare landscape. They are trained to troubleshoot issues that our customers face. In doing so, the representatives have to be on point with what assistance they provide or actions they might take. This puts immense pressure on customer service reps while the element of human errors looms. Unfortunately, there is no tool or application that can alleviate such concerns. And that’s the biggest challenge that confronts organizations working in the customer experience arena. However, that doesn’t mark the dawn of technological innovation in the landscape. There are copious technological expertise that can be leveraged—depending on the line of business—to fabricate a scalable and personalized product line that bolsters the entire customer experience journey.
Work Culture that Drives Customer-First Strategy
Work environment at McKesson or any other contact center plays a greater role in ensuring enhanced customer experience. What I try to inculcate among our staff is to become the voice of the customers. There would be numerous instances wherein the resolution to a specific issue could not be reached instantly. It further might require assistance of product development and management teams. Hence, it is imperative for representatives to advocate the concern on behalf of the customer. They should be able to articulate the message across to the development or the management teams so that they understand the urgency and address customers’ concerns quickly.
Advice to Fellow Customer Support Leaders
A typical trend that prevails in the contact center realm is management’s over emphasis to pin the average handling time (AHT) as per contractual standards and reward representatives who achieve the set targets. While this strategy may work wonders in alleviating budgetary concerns, at times it creates boundaries between the customer and the organization. The focus should never be just on targets, instead, it should be geared towards a customer experience that creates a convivial atmosphere during an interaction and allows representatives to become the voice of customers. Therefore if you have targets, make sure they support creating that atmosphere and are not conflicting or too restrictive. Continue to focus on that customer experience and develop your key metrics that will help to drive for that experience.