Most of the world’s successful businesses will tell you that a key ingredient of their success is placing the customer at the heart of everything
Jeff Bezos, no less, was famed for putting an empty chair in his major meetings as Amazon’s CEO – a physical reminder of the customer’s place in the room.
The value of customer centricity is clear. And as Bezos and Amazon made us all too aware, some are far more committed to it – and better at it – than others. The most valuable question to answer for businesses is this: what does strong customer centricity look like?
For me, the strength of your customer centricity is determined by how deep the connection between your support teams and their clients can go. Empathy and emotion are what creates that depth, and neither can exist without human interaction.
Chatbots, instant messaging, contact forms – these digital touchpoints have become default help centre choices for many businesses. But they all miss the key ingredient in any supplier-customer interaction: the human voice. In a world of connection, nothing is more adaptable, personal or powerful.
A byproduct of the past two years is that people have been left craving real, human connections like never before. And this has extended to what we expect from, and value in, the customer experience. In fact, companies that provide an emotional connection with customers have been found to outperform the sales growth of their competitors by 85%.
So, if voice interactions are central to meaningful, human connections with customers, why are they often disregarded? The simple answer is aged technology. Voice has been very slow to evolve because it’s an awkward technology to digitise.
The good news is that disruption is underway. Voice has been revolutionised to strip it of past limitations; the missing human link of the modern support tech stack is ready to go.
The pieces to your tech stack puzzle
A support tech stack should be built for customer centricity. In practical terms, you’ll need a selection of best-in-class digital solutions. Here’s the pick of the bunch to get you started.
First up, you have your CRM solution to centrally store and manage customer information – a non-negotiable. Next, you’ll need a customer feedback management platform to make sense of what your customers have to say and extract actionable insights from the noise. Digital products will then also need a bug tracking solution to reproduce the issues customers are reporting, bring much-needed clarity to the back and forth, and address issues sooner. On top of all that, collaboration software is an essential way to provide the transparency your team needs to thrive.
The final part to the puzzle is cloud-based call centre and phone solutions. This is the new era of voice support I alluded to – one that enables conversations to take place from anywhere in the world without the need for new hardware, shares new metrics in real-time to empower your team to make insight-driven changes, and integrates seamlessly with the rest of your support tech stack.
Integration is so important that I would call it a key differentiator when determining the suppliers to partner with. Any new platform or SaaS solution worth considering should be assessed by its capabilities first and foremost, but the company it keeps is a close second.
Vital support for your support team
So, your support team is now armed and ready with a best-in-class tech stack. The fun truly begins when you realise the newfound capabilities that are evolving what your team can do.
Automation is more accessible and is a gamechanger in streamlining more mundane tasks. Those admin-heavy tasks that soak up your team’s time can be replaced with newly gained hours that can be put to better use, creating moments your customers remember. Add to that all that can be gleaned from the customer insights made possible by your stack, and you’re left with richer conversations, more meaningful moments and stronger human connections.
The Achilles heel of legacy phone solutions, in particular, was wait time – hearing the dreaded “you’re on hold” jingle for 40 minutes. Cloud-based phone solutions, on the other hand, eradicate time lost by redirecting through a combination of highly efficient call routing and providing pre-recorded responses to common queries.
A world of possibilities beyond customers
The value of a best-in-class tech stack doesn’t stop with your support team’s capabilities; it extends to their morale and wellbeing.
The right tech stack will enable new joiners to onboard quicker and more effectively by preparing them with real-world scenarios captured by your technology. It will ensure that your distributed support team maintains empathetic, successful interactions in a hybrid working world. Empowered, not hindered, by the technology at their disposal, your people will find themselves enjoying the autonomy many crave in their 9 to 5.
Technology can have a huge bearing on the level of happiness your teams come to work with. It’s clear that making the right calls can go a long way in ensuring that the person on your end of the line is willing and able to make the meaningful connections your business needs.
About the Author
Olivier Pailhès is the co-founder and CEO of Aircall. He began his career at The Boston Consulting Group and ArcelorMittal. While working in large enterprises, he saw the opportunity to improve the way businesses connect with customers on the phone. This insight urged him to enter the start-up world and create Aircall. Olivier holds an MBA from HEC School of Management in Paris.