Claridge’s: A Great Place To Discuss Personalised Customer Service

martin hill-wilson
Martin Hill-Wilson Director, Brainfood Consulting

Posted on August 31st 2012

Claridge’s: A Great Place To Discuss Personalised Customer Service

Post image for Claridge’s: A Great Place To Discuss Personalised Customer ServiceHaving enjoyed a previous customer event chez Gordon Ramsey, I knew to expect a belt busting dinner. I was not disappointed!

The homemade marshmallows were to die for as indeed were the scallops.  The wine was divine, the service impeccable and the evening slipped by in animated discussion. Of course, this is insufficient justification to choose NewVoiceMedia for your new telephony infrastructure, but it’s pretty damn close-)

Next morning’s customary email exchanges suggested a good time was had by all.

The Quest For Personalised Customer Service

So where to begin? We did of course discuss more than the menu.  I’d chosen two themes to get things going. The first was the opportunity to deliver personalised customer service via intelligent routing.

If you have a few years under your belt in the Contact Centre space then that phrase will sound familiar. And indeed it is for those who tuned into high end Customer Service functionality. Intelligent routing was a core feature from which much benefit should have flowed. Only it didn’t, since it was too expensive for two thirds of the market, and too complex for those who did buy it.

Instead, the kind of routing that became industry standard was the skills-based variety. In other words an internal perspective, based on resourcing considerations that neatly plugged into the mindset of workforce management solutions.

Yes it is true that multi-skilling does help scheduling. But organising routing based on interaction media i.e. voice or text does not make an experiential difference to customers unless of course the skills being deployed are woefully inadequate.

It only starts to matter when priorities are reversed and we explore what intelligent routing can offer customers. What then becomes exciting is the tangible opportunity to differentiate around your brand’s service experience.

Why? Because given all that internal preoccupation with utilisation, customer feedback suggests widespread dissatisfaction over a set of long term issues. Pretty much any customer survey over the last ten years will tell you the following about what upsets them and needs fixing:

I’ve been berating customer service leadership teams for ever and a day about getting these aspects of their service experience fixed. Unfortunately to little effect. This inability to solve such a well reported issue is a the ‘smoking gun’ that proves truly personalised customer service remains an open field for experimentation and positive branding.

So our first discussion of the night was about the real opportunity for delivering a memorable service experience. Just think about it. Have you ever heard someone praise a call centre for being able to anticipate their situation and then make the delivery of what happens next relevant and personalised? ‘Scalable intimacy’ as I’ve heard it described.

Sounds perfect in theory. Pity it’s so absent in practice!

But that’s the beauty of cloud based CTI when deeply integrated with CRM held customer data and workflow. Here is a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles and go to town on experimenting with your own version of ‘scalable intimacy’. It works, is affordable and can be iterated without the need for IS/IT involvement.

The Secret Is To Anticipate Situations That Matter To Customers

Delivering personalised customer service does need some research and thought. It has to matter to the customer and have a conscious and positive impact on their experience. So at the very least NPS scores should be improving. At best, more commercial metrics such as up-sell rates and lifetime values should also see steady improvement.

The focus needs to shift from internal planning issues to understanding what situations customer find themselves in. Then design service experiences that make each one easier and less stressful. Here is a powerful example of what I mean. At dinner there was someone from the spread betting world. They came out with a killer stat about their space.

“90% Of Customers Lose 90% Of Their Bets In 90 Days”

That has to be one of the most vivid summaries of a business model I’ve heard in a while!

What would happen if that transactional history could trigger an additional service that recognised the unfolding predicament and empowered the customer to get smarter? It could transform those industry dynamics and make some folk a whole lot richer!

Maybe that is not the buzz around spread betting. I don’t know the customer psychology well enough to be sure. But the underlying principle is readily transferrable to other markets.

Imagine being able to deliver personal recorded messages  the moment that customers make contact based on their previous engagement with you. The ‘wow’ is based on automatically recognising a customer’s circumstance with no extra effort on their behalf. We are now leveraging the data we have collected rather than aimlessly re-checking it!

For instance:

 

In effect what we were discussing is being able to provide a ‘concierge’ style of experience that can scale to as many customers as you wish once you have recognised their situation and designed a relevant response.

Parting Thoughts

I’m still getting my teeth into this topic and unpacking more detailed examples and design principles. I’m exploring this via another webinar and whitepaper with NewVoiceMedia very soon. Depending when you read this, you could directly participate,  grab the archive or download the associated whitepaper.

I think the idea has legs.

P.S.

By the way, in case you are left wondering about the other topic we discussed over dinner, it was this.  The benefits of building ‘One Agenda’ between Marketing, Sales and Service teams for better customer engagement. But that’s another story which of course you are more than welcome to delve into. You can find my post on the topic here.

martin hill-wilson

Martin Hill-Wilson

Director, Brainfood Consulting

I am a long standing member of the UK customer service community. I’ve served as consultant, facilitator, director and CEO for a variety of brands. I also participate as conference speaker and blogger in my role of passing on best practice and next generation thinking in customer service and social business. I currently work as an independent under the Brainfood brand with a range of clients focussing on customer related strategy assignments. This increasingly includes social media and social business integration. More at http://www.brainfoodextra.com/

 
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