SMEs make up 40 per cent of businesses operating in South Africa, and, as many are business owners, they’re even more acutely aware of the need to provide engagement that meets customer expectations. Customer-driven businesses must operate on principles that are not just cost-effective, but also drive efficiencies that truly have a positive impact on the customer experience.
Agility matters more than size
Big companies invest in long-term business solutions that suit their needs, all with a view to optimising how their business is conducted. A large contact centre suits the volumes of interactions necessary for a business operating with a large volume of customers. The costs associated to running a large contact centre enterprise are more easily borne by big business. An SME, however, may have only a smaller contact centre environment or a support department. This presents an opportunity to introduce business solutions in ways that suit your business.
The cost factor is a consideration, smaller operations seek to keep operating costs to a minimum to ensure liquidity and reduce risk. A customer service solution aimed specifically at SMEs needs to take this into account – there should be low upfront costs as well as affordable monthly fees.
Well-managed customer engagement
A support department could consist of one centralised email address with which customers must conduct business. They may only use social media, or chat, or another channel, or a combination of these, so the goal is to ensure that no matter what form of communication is being used, all the customer communication is well-managed. This should ideally take place without intensive skills development being necessary or the need for additional IT resources.
No time to waste
Business continuity is vital for businesses of any size. Any customer service solution must be able to be rapidly deployed with minimal disruption to ongoing business. It must also be flexible and scalable to easily cope with business growth.
Out-of-the-box templates can also help to quickly define and deploy a customer service strategy, so you can be up and servicing customers within a matter of hours. An organisation can start with one channel such as voice, for example, and then add digital, mobile and self-service channels as needs change.
A focus on Customer Experience
Personalisation plays an important role in shaping the customer experience. In a customer service environment, this could take on the form of implementing advanced or skill-based customer routing.
In a support department or contact centre, it’s possible to route customer inquiries to the employee who is best qualified to handle them. Routing can be based on communication channel, agent expertise, or even past experiences with a customer or situation. Self-service options can also enable customers to serve themselves, which can lead to higher levels of satisfaction and a marked decrease in employee workloads.
Customers have high expectations from large companies when it comes to getting the service they want, and the same perception is true of a smaller or medium-sized company – customers may even have higher expectations about personalised service from smaller operators.
Technology and commercial models have changed – SMEs now have access to cost-effective world-class customer service strategies that put them in the big league. Delivering service excellence that is focused, fast and, consequently, customer-centric is no longer a want, or a need – it’s a requirement to stay competitive.
By Wynand Smit is CEO of INOVO, a leading contact centre business solutions provider.