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Where has all the customer service gone?

As someone with a background in customer service in multitude of industries, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of making sure customers feel valued in their interactions with a company. And now in my role at Nuance helping companies identify where their experiences fall short and how they can fix the issue, I pay more attention than ever to where there is room for improvement when it comes to the customer journey. I recently experienced a poorly managed situation in my interaction with a financial institution, and wanted to share my analysis to ensure other companies can learn to embrace customer needs.

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Customers hate having their time wasted, and many companies still have service practices which don’t optimize their time or show customers they are valued.

I have had a lifelong career working in industries which boast high standards for customer service (i.e. impeccable and unequivocal). And thus, I am sensitive in my daily interactions with any type of business to how they approach and engage their customers. Having a background in hospitality, advertising, retail, health and sales – each very different, but all extremely customer-centric – a focus on service is cornerstone for how I see the world. Whether it meant working in the office past midnight because a client changed an entire ad campaign that was due the next day, or being able to empathize, strategize and counsel someone who has struggled and failed numerous times to get fit, creating a personalized customer experience was the differentiator that made them appreciate my help and stay loyal customers.

In my role at Nuance, I use my background on the other end of customer experience to identify issues and find solutions for company’s customer service programs. But much has changed since my days in health and retail. In my work, service was always the mantra for how we operated. But I see less and less of this nowadays.

Today’s consumers prefer to use technology to solve their own customer service issues or concerns (self-serve), rather than speaking with an agent. Not only is it quicker, but it is more efficient and consistent. Technology, when done right, creates an effortless and satisfying customer experience. Technology won’t mind if you make contact at lunchtime or at midnight. It never gets up on the wrong side of the bed or gets surly or dismissive. If it doesn’t know the answer, it is truthful and makes a suggestion on where to get help, rather than leave you in on-hold purgatory. But when used incorrectly or is poorly integrated with live agent support, it can have a negative impact on a company’s business. If they experience just a single unsatisfactory experience, today’s customers are taking action. Seventy-eight percent of consumers who were unhappy with a company interaction stopped patronizing that business, warned others to stay away, or shared negative feedback with the company directly and in online reviews.

Recently, I had a customer experience which completely missed the boat, and caused me frustration and irritation. I wanted to share what happened in hopes other businesses can learn from this company’s mistake and improve their customer experience.

I needed to check my account balance and make a payment, so I called a financial institution in what I thought would be a quick call. Instead, I ended up on the phone for two hours because the agent was having trouble authenticating my identity. I was put on hold multiple times, had incorrect transfers, and answered countless questions about jobs I held decades ago. When I couldn’t answer some of the authentication questions, I was transferred to a higher level security team because they were worried I was a fraudster. After many deep cleansing breaths, and hours of discussion and frustration, my mission was complete, but I was exhausted. Had this company invested in voice biometrics for identity verification, my two-hour long call would have been cut down to a couple of minutes.

When the time invested in a call yields an undesirable outcome, delivered by a derisive employee or a jerky experience, businesses are missing the mark and wasting customers’ time. Research continues to inform us that consumers’ top complaint when it comes to customer service is not feeling valued when their time is wasted.

The lesson learned from my poor experience is to embrace tools and technology, like voice biometrics, which will help build customer relationships, not ruin them. Make sure your customers know they are valued by not wasting their time, and make sure they want to call you again.

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Addressing the FCC’s new TCPA rulings in the contact center.
2015 TCPA ruling: What’s changed?
Part 2: A layman’s ideas for abiding by the new FCC ruling
Delivering effortless self-service with intelligent virtual assistant technology.
BizMisconnect: Intelligent virtual assistants save time (and the day) for busy consumers
Intelligent virtual assistants help companies create effortless, intuitive experiences
Rather than staffing up, eHealth employed proactive customer engagement to deflect calls, enhance the experience and contain costs.
Of mice and cats: How eHealth used proactive customer engagement to meet call center demands
Reduce inbound call volume and deliver a better customer experience
Voice biometrics delivers easier, safer security authentication for customers.
Eastern Bank becomes first North American bank to use voice biometrics in the call center
Nuance FreeSpeech makes access to bank accounts as simple as small talk
Eliminate the silos between outbound communication and inbound conversations to create a consistent customer experience.
BizMisconnect: Connected conversations help avoid call center frustration
Are your inbound and outbound customer service channels talking to one another?
Today’s digitally savvy retail customer calls for convenient, quick and secure omni-channel service.
Voice biometrics and the year of the innovative retail service offering
Deliver better customer experiences with seamless security authentication
Digital customer service channels are on the rise but customers still turn to call centers as their escalation channel.
How digital customer service channels are transforming call center to escalation channel
The escalation of call center customer service
New research shows that Millennial expectations for customer service are now impacting customer demands across all generations.
Millennials vs. everyone else: Debunking the divide
Are Millennials really so different when it comes to customer service?
Voice biometrics delivers easier, safer security authentication without the passwords and PINs.
Polish consumers call for convenience and data security
Voice biometrics delivers secure authentication without passwords or PINs
Are disconnected channels and information leading to bad customer experiences?
Brief encounters with bad customer service
How conflicting customer service messages lead to call center frustration
Digital innovations and connected conversations can create slam dunk customer service experiences.
Delivering a slam dunk with connected customer service conversations
Winning the customer service game with innovative technology and connected conversations
Michigan families get faster response and better service with new NLU call steering solution.
Intelligent self-service helps Michigan families in need
Michigan Office of Child Support improves results through a conversational experience
Artificial intelligence and self-service can drive better customer experiences and reduce call center costs
Artificial Intelligence and self-service: A perfect pairing for customer loyalty
Intelligent self-service delivers a better customer experience
Successful, intelligent customer service means creating an aligned and integrated experience across the customer journey.
Customer communication siloes are coming down
Driving better intelligent customer service with a cross journey approach
Fall back in love with customer service.
The Customer Service Romantic: Falling back in love with customer service
Customer service, will you be my valentine?
multichannel-self-service-for-banking-customers
Meeting banking customer needs with multichannel communications
Is your business ready for multichannel banking?
Organizations need to rethink using passwords for authentication
Top 25 most common passwords of 2014 announced
Organizations take note: Consumers still using vulnerable passwords
healthcare organizations are able to reach and engage more patients through automated outreach
Saddling up: Best practices for engaging members in population health programs
How automated communications can help to scale population health programs
Contact center trends: From the cloud to voice biometrics
2014 in review: The year technology took over the customer relationship
How cloud computing, cross-channel communications and voice biometrics changed service
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