Addressing the digital prophesy
Addressing the digital prophesy
‘The customer is always right’. That’s been the narrative in customer services from the past 25 years. Put another way, if you want to know what great customer service should look like you need to begin by asking the customer what they really want. This was before we as customers started leaving a metaphorical trail of breadcrumbs everywhere we go on the internet. Digital engagement meant companies no longer had to rely on what we said, they could work out what we wanted by what we did. Thus digital customer service was unleashed and the world was turned on its head. Now companies can predicate what customers want with a fair degree of certainty, before they’ve even imagined they need it.
Companies who invest millions asking customers what they want before they change their service proposition, are getting left behind. Why? There are two reasons:
1. the time it takes to ask them is time wasted, as while you’re doing that, customers are still transacting and seeking service anyway
2. the data gathered is notoriously open to interpretation and bias, so it’s unlikely the insights will either be accurate or conclusive.
The CCA blog is a great bell-weather for the customer service industry in the UK and this month is no different. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising it for any malevolent reason. In fact I’m a huge fan of the work done by the CCA. Merchants part of the Dimension Data CX Solutions business, has been a proud member for many years. But I’m calling out the CCA narrative because it reflects the rather stoic nature of the industry currently, which seems to be at the effect of the changes underway in customer engagement, rather than driving change.
Dimension Data reported in the Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report earlier this year that the majority of interactions handled by contact centre agents by the end of 2016 will be digital and non-voice. We’ve seen how our industry is now prioritising analytics but has yet to gear up to exploit it in any real sense. We’ve all experienced how the on-line world tracks and exploits every page view, click and search we make. Yet the contact centre industry seems to be relying solely on what customers tell them they want, along with data gathered through quality monitoring to shape how service is delivered. I’m not saying customer feedback isn’t useful, or that quality monitoring doesn’t have a role to play, of course they do. Indeed our own call centres in South Africa have achieved global industry recognition for their NPS scores, which is largely based on acting on customer verbatim comments, to improve the service offered by our colleagues. But what is frustrating is the lack of cognisance of the value of behavioural data to drive insights and improve customer experience and interaction management.
I’ve quoted them before, but the online travel company I met in Holland have over 500 people in data analytics and the reason why is best explained by their CTO when he said: “The customer is rarely, if ever right.” He went on to explain he knew this to be true because he has the data to prove it. He has evidence to back up his claim that what customers tell you they want and what they actually end up doing are usually completely different things. This philosophy is also explained in depth in the book Dataclysm (who we are when we think no one’s watching) by Christen Rudder.
As my boss Rob Allman keeps repeating: ‘ If the customer is king, then data is the sovereign currency’. Until our industry adopts similar thinking across the board and starts using customer behavioural data with the same degree of rigour as our on-line colleagues, contact centres will still be in danger of fulfilling the doom-laden prophesy of the Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2015: Go Digital or Die.