A strong and effective customer service is a fundamental aspect of any digital transformation initiative. Much of this depends on developing a well-structured omni-channel strategy to provide a consistent customer service that results in a frictionless experience, frees up sales agents, and produces long-term results. However, when planning and implementing a winning customer service strategy, there are a number of common challenges businesses come up against.

Here are four barriers to achieving customer service excellence, and the most effective ways to overcome them.

1. Complexity of customer experience

With increasingly specific customer expectations, an overly complex customer experience can lead to frustration and increase the likelihood of churn. To live up to expectations, companies need to incorporate omni-channel technologies that allow customers to easily access to important information.

However, focusing solely on technology is unlikely to provide the desired experience. According to the UK’s Institute of Customer Service report on Customer Satisfaction Index for 2017, service agents must be appropriately trained on how to meet customers’ needs, whether that means finding the right solution outright, connecting them to the correct department without disrupting the experience, or aiding them with the processes on the company website.

2. Difficulty unifying different sources of customer data

If data is spread across systems, there are any number of potential negative side effects. Individual customer journeys can be treated as multiple, customers may be asked to unnecessarily repeat their query, or information could be lost.

This results in an unbalanced experience that leads to exasperation. Every customer interaction needs to be seamless and frictionless across channels, with a specific customer’s information travelling as they do. Centralisation of data and it’s related processes in a single CRM solution is the first step towards overcoming this barrier.

3. Lack of resources

Lack of resources can be detrimental for a company’s ability to attain excellent customer service. This can be anything from a low number of sales agents to antiquated management systems, all of which can cause customers to lose trust in your organisation.

For example, it’s possible that you have an adequate number of sales agents, but they’re often tied up in low-difficulty cases due to sub-optimum software solutions. A hallmark of a badly planned customer service strategy is an inability to differentiate between case categories and level of criticality, or escalate them when necessary. The fact is, not all cases are created equal, and in treating them as such you risk wasting valuable sales-agent time on queries or complaints that could be easily resolved elsewhere.

4. Lack of budget

Customer service is a dynamic area of any company. Failing to properly investing in improving your long-term customer-service operations is parallel to allowing the quality of your service to decline.
In order to ensure the best possible customer service, organisations need to plan for every aspect in their budget. This involves technology, employee skills and behaviours, and the quality and reliability of the product. Failure to do so can result in losing out to other competitors who better prioritise these areas.

How to overcome barriers.

Overhaul existing systems
Start with an overhaul of existing systems. According to iOPEX technologies, existing systems should be reinvented to smoothly transform into an omni-channel support structure. It’s necessary for businesses to adapt to this structure, as channel preference is often dictated by customer’s needs at a particular moment, meaning they may use social media or more traditional phone support depending on the nature of their query.

Develop channels individually
While every channel should be connected and part of an overarching “conversation” with a given customer, each one should have it’s own dedicated team. This requires agents to become proficient at interacting with customers through any channel available. At redk, we know that quality customer service relies on grossing the agent’s capabilities, so teams should be properly trained to achieve the aims of the organisation whilst being properly supported by the technology they use. Technology in place should be easy to use, thus lowering the barrier for teams to become adept in their use.

Invest in the correct software – and implement it properly
Solutions like Zendesk that include CRM integration, knowledge management, and analytics in one user-friendly platform are important to provide a well-rounded and continually improving service.

It’s vital for omni-channel support structures to fluidly connect with other channels. To stand out from your competition, your channels need to be seamless by avoiding repetition and ensuring your teams know the issue straight away, before finding the appropriate solution.

In order to achieve this, it’s important not only to find the correct software for your business, but also to ensure your team is properly trained. This involves ongoing seminars and sessions, provided by digital transformation experts, with feedback to monitor employee satisfaction.

It’s not easy to implement a customer service strategy that drives success. However, through careful planning, appropriate software, and well-trained staff, the barriers to customer service excellence can be overcome. In the end, your business will thrive thanks to increased satisfaction amongst your teams, content and loyal customers, and lasting, long-term growth.