Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
Getting customer engagement right - for everyone
Tony Porter, Head of Global Marketing and Graham Pollard, Managing Director of Klick2Contact provide insight into delivering secure and outstanding customer experiences across any channel using secure payments, self-service and omni-channel solutions.
What’s holding back your customer engagement today? Why aren’t you able to make the digital transformation that you want to? How come your customer satisfaction doesn’t reflect all the extra effort you’re putting in?
The simple answer is perhaps you’re not offering the channels that your customers want. Today, customer engagement is starting to transform relationships between organisations and their customers. Fragmented and frustrating, hit-and-miss interactions are being replaced by seamless experiences that feel effortless for customers.
The natural preference of customers
In everyday life, we all want our home, work and social lives to fit seamlessly. Whenever life is disjointed and doesn’t work, we get frustrated. We like being in control... not being controlled.
It’s no wonder that web, mobile and social media use continues to soar. All of us want the freedom to interact how we want, when we want. But, we still need to engage with less tech-savvy people or those with disabilities may find that they prefer traditional channels such as phone or email.
People want the ability to choose a channel at different points in their engagement process and even to change channel - at the start, middle or end of their journey and afterwards.
So, can you afford to ignore what technology can do to enable your digital transformation?
The answer is ‘yes’, but only if you want to frustrate your customers and waste your precious resources. Customer services expectations are soaring and poor experiences are no longer tolerated.
Today’s customers have very clear ideas about how engagement should work… their way. What’s more in the public sector you’ll be looking to digitally transform to reap the benefits that technology can bring in reducing costs and increasing efficiency, so it should be a win-win situation.
But, as with all new technology projects, it’s essential to get the facts before making big decisions about strategy and investment... decisions that could change your fortunes dramatically, either way.
Five challenges and their solutions
Underlying factors can undermine your success - even when your services are outstanding, your communications exceptional and your agents super-human. Taking customer engagement to the next level means finding answers to five critical questions. How you can…
1). Achieve digital transformation
One of your priorities will be to encourage the uptake of online services to reduce cost. So, whenever customers get stuck or can’t find what they need you risk the project failing. But, you can offer services such as a Chatbot, Live Chat, Call-Back, or Co Browsing to complete the service and encourage further uptake. You can even take a secure payment via a Live Chat or Apple Pay with PCI DSS security and compliance assured. Instead of your agents or reception having to field calls for the same information Self-Service IVR or Chatbots can help you handle these repetitive queries easily and effectively.
2). Let your customers engage the way they want to
The majority of those working in the public sector believe they are delivering service ‘fairly well’ . However, customer preferences and expectations change. We know that less tech-savvy customers may find it hard to engage online or via mobile. They may prefer to speak to a live agent, Live Chat or Call-Back. Others prefer to resolve their own issues and like the anonymity of Self-Service, Visual IVR or Chatbots. Enabling residents to be able to engage in the way, time and place that suits them is the key to great customer experience. A combination of Self-Service IVR and Omni-Channel solutions will give you the widest range of engagement options possible and enable you to cater to every customer preference. Even allowing them to channel shift as much as they want during the course of their query.
3). Increasing productivity
This is where technology can really help. It can streamline current operations, aid digitisation of services and provide self-help. All this means that less live agents or reception staff are required to spend time answering repetitive enquiries. Your valuable human employees can be used to handle more complex interactions and assist those in need of personalised help. Automated solutions - using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), speech recognition, Natural Language Call Routing, Caller Identification or Chatbots - can save money by taking the repetitive, resource-draining activities away from your agents and ensure that the same customer service is available 24x7x365. A Chatbot can handle several customer enquiries at the same time which makes it particularly cost effective – it could even become your virtual receptionist.
If you’re already using a number of different systems to deliver your customer services, how well to they work together? Could you be wasting agents’ time asking them to log on to many different systems or constantly switch between screens to answer enquiries? If so a unified agent desktop will present all these systems via a dashboard making it so easy to make agent and customer lives easier.
4). Secure Payments
Advancing the digitisation programme will enable you rot deliver services online, that means you’ll need to be able to take secure payments over the phone, mobile, web or Live Chat. You’ll need to become PCI DSS compliant to ensure you protect the card holder data of your customers.
Your reputation is on the line if your data is breaches and mis-used so you certainly want to avoid any damaging publicity that may result. UK CNP fraud cost the nation £432 million in 2016 and is set to rise to a staggering 120% by 2021 . The best thing you can do for your customers, beyond offering them a great service, is to reassure them that their data is protected and that your organisation has minimised the risks.
Eckoh’s PCI DSS compliant secure payments solution - CallGuard – along with patented Audio Tokenisation or automated EckohPAY solutions means you can be secure in whatever channel you use. Eckoh can even offer the same payment security via Apple Pay or Live Chat Pay.
5). Improve customer service
There’s no doubt that technology will dramatically improve overall customer engagement without vast capital investment, lengthy implementation and disruption. Proven, cloud-based solutions are the answer and the best ones will fit perfectly with your existing IT infrastructure. They’ll be intuitive for your agents to use and will make your IT department happy too. Letting your customers shift easily and seamlessly from one channel to another, whenever they wish is paramount for a great, consistently-branded, top-quality experience.
Multi or Omni Channel - confused over terminology?
All these channels need to work together to deliver the slickest customer experience. But, the terminology can be confusing and is often badly defined. The terms Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel customer engagement are often used interchangeable. Both have useful properties but the two are quite different.
What’s the difference?
Multi-Channel is about using many channels (e.g. social media, web and email) to engage your customers. But that doesn’t allow you to deliver a seamless and consistent message across these multiple touch points. The programs don’t necessarily factor in optimising the customer experience based on the different devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops that your customers use to interact with you. Very often this patchwork of point solutions can be from different providers complicating things even more.
Omni-Channel is also about using many channels to engage with your customers – automated IVR, live help, chatbots, secure payments across web, mobile and phone. You can differentiate your service through consistency and a focus on the customers’ choice of device to ensure your customers receive the same experience and message through the different channels and devices that they choose to use.
Customer experience is the biggest differentiator between organisations today. Many organisations make a big noise about being customer-centric but in reality, many customer experiences are broken and clunky interfaces. Customers are force through automated menus or onto channels they’d rather not use and all too often the engagement journey is organised in silos that make sense for the company, but not for the end user.
If you’re honestly serious about delivering your services across every channel, achieving that digital transformation vision and reducing cost then you need to serious about re-orienting not just back-end systems but operational processes, structures and culture to properly enable it to really happen.
77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service 
80% of companies will be making some sort of live chat available to their customers by 2018 
44% of customers said that having a Live Chat specialist available during an online purchase was one of the most important features a company can offer 
82% of customers would use live chat on mobile devices if it was available 
 Public Sector Show - 2017 Insights Report
 National Audit Office Jun2017
 Forrester Research
 Business 2 Community
 Moxie Software
Klick2Contact is an Eckoh company