Why great people are key to digital customer service success

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Mike Barnard 4th October 2018 5 minute read

Why great people are key to digital customer service success

Today’s National Customer Service Week theme is ‘Leadership’, and we knew we couldn’t let today pass without hearing from our Executive Director Mike Barnard. Mike is a champion of customer service excellence, and of the role that people have to play in an increasingly digital world. Here, he explains why people remain at the heart of digital customer service communications.

At its core, the service we provide can be boiled down to ‘people enabling compelling interactions with customers’. By ‘compelling interactions’, I mean interactions that are easy, timely, and relevant to the customer, regardless of which channel they are delivered through. Though more customers are choosing to contact us through digital channels instead of voice, it doesn’t mean that the role of the human becomes any less important in delivering these interactions.

One way in which people are continuing to enable compelling customer interactions is by designing digital and self-serve channels. As customer service providers, our role is to ensure that these channels are genuinely adding value. We need to examine whether the services and processes we have in place are actually creating ease for the customer, and if not, what we can do to improve them.

An example of how people can continue to improve ease is by catching the customer contact when digital journeys fail or remain incomplete. This can be reactive (e.g. by managing the service experience) or proactive (e.g. through the use of dropped basket technology such as Optilead, Capita’s shopping cart abandonment software).

There are some customer interactions where it’s just more appropriate to talk directly to people rather than through digital channels. Even in this increasingly-online world, voice is not dead! As well as developing their digital offering, businesses must also invest in building differentiated skills (such as complaints management and sales) in their agents to support these ‘moments of truth’ in the voice channel.

However, technology will also be increasingly used to help make these human interactions more compelling. At Capita, we use data and insight about how to most effectively contact people in the UK in order to help clients engage with customers. We also conduct social media scraping in order to inform clients’ end customers about compelling offers, or the value of clients’ propositions compared to their competition.

Front-line engagement will continue to be crucial to service performance – this is why we still focus on employee NPS and use it to drive management bonuses. But engagement is not just about the front line. It is about the alignment between the front line and the tone created by the management team and operational leaders. It’s also about making sure that front line teams have the tools to be successful and compelling in the eyes of customers.

Ultimately, it’s through strong leadership and a digital strategy that targets all levels of the business that organisations will be able to ensure their people are empowered to deliver compelling interactions across all channels.

To find out more about great people achieving great things in the customer service industry, read our latest edition of Intelligence here.

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