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Building Customer Trust Through the Contact Center

Trust is an essential element of customer relationships. It may take years to earn that trust, but it can be lost in an instant. Wells Fargo provides a cautionary tale.

Founded in 1852 to provide banking services in California, the company enjoyed 163 years of prosperity and became the world’s largest bank in 2015. Within months, however, its reputation was irretrievably tarnished by a shocking scandal. The bank admitted to creating millions of fake customer accounts, forging signatures, charging fraudulent fees and illegally repossessing property from tens of thousands of customers who didn’t pay those fees.

In the end, Wells Fargo had to pay billions in remediation costs and criminal penalties. Outraged customers, including major clients such as the State of California, transferred an estimated $75 billion in deposits. Multiple surveys over the past few years consistently find that Wells Fargo is now the least-trusted bank in America — by quite a large margin.

As the legendary investor Warren Buffet once noted: “Trust is like the air we breathe — when it’s present, nobody really notices; when it’s absent, everyone notices.”

What Customers Want

As the central point of interaction between companies and their customers, the contact center plays a critical role in creating positive customer experiences that build trust and brand loyalty. In one recent survey of U.S. consumers, nearly 90 percent said they will remain loyal to a company or brand following a positive contact center experience, but nearly 75 percent said they would stop doing business with a company after a single negative experience.

How do you earn that trust? According to several surveys, there are four things that customers say they expect when they engage with a company’s contact center:

  • Fast resolution. Getting questions answered and problems resolved quickly is the No. 1 priority for customers because it demonstrates that you respect their time. According to a Forrester survey, 66 percent of adults believe valuing their time is the essence of good customer service. CRM integration is a key to achieving this by making it easy to collect relevant data about existing customers and push that information to the agent through screen pops. Armed with the upfront knowledge of the customer’s purchase history, preferences and more, agents can find the right information quickly and improve the odds of a first-call resolution.
  • Omnichannel engagement. Customers want the option to communicate by phone, email, live chat, text, mobile apps or social media. Integrated call distributors and management systems enable this feature by integrating all communication channels, allowing customers to seamlessly transition from one channel to another if necessary.
  • Reduced hold time. Two-thirds of consumers say they’ll wait no more than two minutes before hanging up, and the vast majority say they won’t call back again. Intelligent call routing systems can help reduce hold times by connecting customers to agents that are most suited to solve their problems. The tools can route the inquiry based upon data captured from any communication channel. This helps to reduce the chance the customer will have to be transferred — a major cause of frustration.
  • 24×7 support. Customers today expect to be able to get support help at any time, even if it is a self-service or automated option. Automated virtual agents enable around-the-clock self-service functions. In addition, cloud-based virtual contact centers make it easier than ever to have human agents available 24×7. With cloud operations, organizations can have support agents working in various time zones to support “follow the sun” operations.

No two customers are alike, and they all have their particular preferences. However, these four features are universally well received and are highly likely to help create a positive customer experience.

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