In 2018, Kimberly McAtee, a part-time barista at Starbucks, began her new life as a student at Arizona State University (ASU). Further education was always on her radar, but the costs of books and tuition forced her to drop out previously. It wasn’t until Starbucks launched its university reimbursement plan in 2014 that life started to turn around for McAtee.
Starbucks promised to pay 100% of university tuition for all eligible employees, eliminating the most significant entry barrier for people thinking of going in to further education. After some encouragement from her manager, she applied to ASU, and after four years of online education, she graduated with honours. Her success story is just one of many.
Among the typical cost-cutting measures most companies implement, why did Starbucks choose to go this route? The reason is that Starbucks, like many other organisations, understands how happy employees are vital to long-term profitability.
Introduce the right tools
Modern-day organisations are starting to realise that to be a customer-centric company; you need to focus on employees first. Free lunches and similar perks are just one part of this. If you want employees to be happy and productive at work, you need to empower them with the tools they need to succeed.
However, some businesses struggle to provide useful tools and as a result, find it harder to nurture the employee experience, which in turn impacts the customer experience. Therefore, it’s critical to understand the communication challenges employees/agents face and ever-changing customer expectations.
Avoid disparate and outdated systems
From a customer service agent’s perspective, silos and outdated communications tools mean an inability to reach the right experts and resolve issues quickly. Customers expect fast and effortless resolutions to their problems, and having to place customers on long holds (or even worse, call them back) is mentally taxing to every agent. It doesn’t help that switching back and forth between different applications leads to lost customer information, too. Ever had to call a company multiple times and each new agent has no idea what your past issues were? In most cases, it’s just as frustrating for the agent as it is for the customer.
Recognise that customer expectations are always changing
Today, 33% of customers say the most important aspect of a good customer service experience is not having to repeat themselves or not getting passed from agent to agent. Additionally, 69% of customers want companies to make existing products and services available on digital channels due to COVID-19. Customers expect agents to be knowledgeable, friendly, quick and available on any channel of their choosing and at any time.
So, what’s the best way to help overcome these challenges, exceed customer expectations and improve the customer experience?
The benefits of a unified approach
For many organisations, UC and contact centres have operated separately, leaving agents in silos and sales/marketing/product teams out of the loop. But the market is shifting towards both of these operations coming together under a single vendor. By bringing both internal and external communications together, it’s much easier for agents to manage interactions with customers and colleagues without losing key customer information. There are four key benefits:
1. Clear up the app clutter
A combined UC and contact centre solution means your employees – especially contact centre agents – won’t need to toggle between six different apps to do everything they need to do.
2. Create a collaborative and innovative culture
When all members of the organisation actively participate in the customer experience, it promotes a culture of collaboration and innovation. Knowledge experts learn of customer issues through agents, and agents learn of internal processes through knowledge experts. This all makes it easier for agents to find answers, resolve issues, offer faster response time and create excellent customer experiences.
3. Simplify processes with one provider
Rather than juggling multiple platforms, a single provider can share answers to all aspects of the platform, manage billing, provide training and roll out updates to all tools across the board, taking the load of management off of IT’s shoulders.
4. Scale your business without growing pains
As your organisation grows, your technology needs to grow with you. A combined UC and contact centre solution allows you to create a cohesive strategy and tailor your communications to the evolving needs of your business.
The bottom line is, how your teams communicate affects both the employee experience and the customer experience, and ultimately your brand’s reputation and revenue. When you invest in internal communications and free knowledge workers from their silos, you will unlock the potential of your organisation.
Originally published Jan 18, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023