Digitisation and its impact on customer service centres

Customer service and sales departments are benefitting from new digital tools

The digitisation of customer services has had a major impact on teams working in sales and customer interface, whether they are office-based or working in the field. These are the findings of the recent 2016 study undertaken by Touch & Sell in collaboration with the DCF (Dirigeants Commerciaux de France – French business leaders). This study concerns digital, mobile and connected devices used by customer interface teams, from sales to customer service. This means tablets, smartphones, Digital Walls, interactive TV or in-store digital terminals.

Covering all sectors and all salary levels, this study highlights the recognised effectiveness of digital tools by more than 70% of people surveyed from within the sales force or customer services.

Greater proximity in customer relationship management

Those surveyed pointed to the improved commercial productivity achieved thanks to these new tools. Presentations to customers or potential customers have become more interactive, modern, fast, and effective: the traditional face to face relationship has been replaced with a side by side relationship, which is creating greater proximity.

The digitisation of sales teams has brought about profound changes in the relationship, because customers become active participants in the presentation and are free to pick up the tablets, carry out simulations using their own customer services representative, or scroll through documents. In turn, the sales representative has all communication supports available while in the field, under company policy, and has total freedom to personalise them.

Thus, with built-in customer data, LinkedIn profiles or even sales force data tables are additional factors of productivity. In light of this, nearly 20% of people surveyed felt that their cost-effectiveness and commercial performance were boosted by these new tools.

All that remains is to have connections between these digital, mobile and online tools and the customer service centres, so that sales representatives share the same knowledge and can deal with contacts requiring a quick follow-up, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. The development of ad hoc applications is necessary, for both B2B and B2C markets.

 How is the digitisation of interactions impacting customer service centres?

Of course, what is done by customers for customers, either as P2P or self-care, has meant less flow to the contact centres. Nevertheless, there are signs of new kinds of flow – more qualitative and less voluminous.

In general, customer empowerment is the logical consequence of the arrival of the internet, consumer advice websites, social networks and more recently, the brand community platforms, such as Sosh (Orange), HP or Leroy Merlin.

Interactions take place peer to peer (P2P) and consumers are able to find information, ask questions, exchange information or group together to buy more cheaply (Groupon).

In fact, customers have grown stronger in their relationship with brands and are constantly talking with their peers on the web, in digital spaces. Brands therefore try to get in on the conversation with varying degrees of success.

Thus, any request consumers make to brands must comply with SoLoMo or Atawad, in other words brands must be contactable 24/7, from any online interface, via social networks, mobile or in a geo-localised context.

Yet, that’s just where the problem lies, since the major brands should in theory offer a dialogue, 24/7 customer support, delivering good value service. As a consequence, a delay in replying to customers on a Facebook brand page or a Twitter feed can generate customer dissatisfaction, or even the loss of their custom. The same is true for an email dealt with too late or …not at all.

Customer service centres should push brands cross channel communication

Customer service centres have certainly diversified channels and have followed the social and digital wave with more or less success. But a high proportion of brands have little or no mobile interface worthy of the name and responsive design still has its best days to come. In addition, customer dialogue is mainly multi-channel, due to the lack of true cross channel customer service care.

As a consequence, in spite of a frantic search to be the lowest bidder and for permanent cost killing efforts on the part of the customers, customer service centres should be practicing Customer Centricity and Cross Channel Communication ahead of the brands, to move forward best practices, customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In order to achieve this, outsourcing companies must take on today’s still minimal flow, such as that coming from community platforms, and must also link all traditional channels to social or digital channels in real time, with no interruption. This ties in with a strategy based on a three-pronged “on, near and offshore” approach, enabling cost control, multidisciplinary customer service roles, and also a true quality of service, all at the same time.

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