Using Technology to Improve Customer Retention

Earlier today I had a conversation with a couple smart guys — Steve Kaplan and Ray Phillips — both longtime contact center industry veterans. The subject of the conversation was around how to use technology to improve customer retention.
To begin with, we all agreed that customer retention is king in this economically-wacky world that we find ourselves in. Companies have spent good money to acquire their customers. Their funds to go out and find new customers are a bit scarcer than they were in years past. So keeping the existing ones is more important than ever.
How do you do a better job retaining customers? You service them better (man, that sounds so easy). Continue the thought — how do you service them better? Can technology improve those service levels and result in improved customer retention? We think so. Our conversation focused on some of the specifics of how companies can leverage technology to improve customer retention? We could have gone on for a couple more hours, but we had work to get done. So here is a list four of the things we talked about. Do you have others? And no, I don’t care whose technology we’re talking about here. The question is vendor agnostic. Our discussion focused around communications technology, cause….well, that’s what we know.
  • Multichannel communications — give your customers choices in how they can communicate with you. They can call you, email you, chat online with you, fax you, text you. If they have a choice, they will usually pick the method they prefer. If they get to use a method they prefer…they’ll most likely be more positive about the service experience they have.
  • Give high priority/high value customers the best service you possibly can. Okay, so everyone deserves the best service you can give. But you’ve got agents in your contact center that are better than others. Identify your best customers (via incoming ANI or other means) and use technology to route them to your best agents.
  • Let everyone in the company participate in servicing your customers. It is the primary job of some (those contact center agents for one), but with a good communications system anyone and everyone who might have specific expertise can get in on the act. "Presence" can let others know if another employee is available to help. "Expert locator" technology can ID which employees have certain knowledge or a specific skill set. With this kind of technology helping out, the customer is going to get the answer he or she needs quickly.
  • Get rid of delays by automating the process of servicing customers. Delayed answers are one of the biggest sources of customer dissatisfaction. As an example, delays get introduced when I drop a written request on a colleague’s desk, or fire off an email request to another employee, only to discover a few days later that the person is on vacation for two weeks. Technology can automate a process by routing it to someone who has the known skill set and is verified as available to take the request or work assignment.

As I wrote above, this list could get pretty long with all of the possibilities. What ideas do you have? How have you seen technology used to hang onto the most valuable thing a company has right now…its customers?

Come on, it’s not hard, just comment then click that "submit" button. I know you’ve got an idea. Click.

Joe Staples — blog-o-master