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Journey of Becoming a Re-engaged Customer

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Silhouettes of People
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Every modern contact center company claims it’s in the business of customer engagement – where the voice of the customer is critical, and the end goal is to make customers appreciate the experience so much – they’ll continue to do business with the brand. Of course, the challenge for the contact center is a decreasing desire among customers to interact via the phone.
Customer “engagement” has always felt a bit aspirational to me. Just how much emotional involvement can there be in a typical business transaction? However, I recently had two experiences which left me feeling heard, engaged, and more loyal to the brands in question. I think it’s particularly noteworthy that both interactions took place over Twitter.
eBags is a web retailer that sells travel related bags and accessories. The company offers many leading brands as well their own branded products. I’ve been a loyal eBags customer for many years, purchasing various bags for family members and myself. When I finally wore out my well-traveled, well-liked, primary carry-on bag, I went onto the company website and ordered a replacement eBags carry-on.
Much to my chagrin, the bag that arrived was “new and improved.” Of course, improved is a relative term, and to me, this item wasn’t at all what I expected or wanted. Companies should be looking at ways to innovate their products, and perhaps a new customer would be perfectly happy with this “improved” bag. But as a veteran consumer I expected something different.
I tweeted my disappointment and tagged @eBags in my complaint. I do this often with different products, partially to see what happens. Sometimes I receive a polite reply or apology, but silence is the most common result. I had no desire to call customer service. That takes more time, and I already knew that I had the option to return the bag.
eBags responded and asked to engage in private, using Twitter direct messaging (DM). I engaged with customer service in a multiday conversation during which I detailed my disappointment, but I never spoke with anyone at eBags. I provided my order number in a DM, and that likely provided the eBags staff with critical details including what I ordered, order history, and shipping address. They proposed to replace my bag with a new, old-style one, and offered a limited set of color choices that they still had in stock. Within just a few days, I had my replacement bag. I also had a renewed sense of loyalty.
I love my new bag. It’s slightly better than my old one. I’m so happy with my interaction that I’ve shared this tale with several people, and now publicly in this post. I’ve essentially become a brand ambassador and will continue to purchase products from this innovative retailer. eBags managed to turn my disappointment into loyalty.
My QuickenLoans experience turned out to be a case of advanced technology doing too good of a job.
I had two interactions in progress with the company—a refinance I’d recently completed, and an inquiry into some new services. Typically, this is the most-desired customer-engagement situation for a company – a satisfied customer who is returning for more. However, it turns out that such a situation can cause some confusion. QuickenLoans bypasses complex interactive voice responses (IVRs) and instead attempts to auto-route prospects to the appropriate contact. In my case, this created a negative experience.
I called QuickenLoans with an inquiry related to the refinancing I had recently completed. The auto-routing service assumed I was calling about new services, so I was effectively routed to someone who couldn’t help me. To make matters worse, I was routed to that person’s voicemail. I left a detailed voicemail, and when she called back, I wasn’t available.
Several calls, multiple explanations, and a few days went by before I connected live to the wrong agent. When we finally connected, I chastised the agent for not responding to my questions left in the voicemail. We soon discovered the auto-routing issue, and she directed me to the right folks, and they quickly resolved my matter.
I tweeted my dissatisfaction, pointing out that the auto-routing caused frustration and delay. To its credit, QuickenLoans saw the tweet, registered my name and city, and cross-referenced me in its database to find my phone number. A customer service representative called me to apologize and learn more about the specifics of what took place to prevent this from reoccurring with others. I left that call so impressed that I tweeted my satisfaction, and expect to remain loyal to QuickenLoans. At the time of this writing, that tweet has more than 2,500 impressions.
Clearly, customers and prospects are tweeting about brands. Companies could have the opportunity to meet (or not) those individuals where they stand. While it’s not a big leap for marketing departments to track brand sentiment, it’s still early for organizations to monitor Twitter with empowered representatives who can act appropriately.
Both examples involve digital-first companies in traditional industries. I suspect that progressive “customer engagement” stories in luggage and mortgages aren’t that common.
In my eBags interaction, the company sent me a replacement bag without asking for a credit card. The team swiftly assessed and remedied the situation. Yes, I had aired my complaint, but I hadn’t called customer service — nor did I intend to. It corrected my journey before losing my loyalty.
Twitter is an effective channel to engage with customers — at least for me. For others, it might be Facebook. The list of possible channels is long and continues to grow, which creates an opportunity. Brands can either wait for customers to arrive in the designated queue during designated hours, or brands can meet their customers where they are. The latter option can boost CSAT and loyalty.
Most contact center solutions integrate with social networks such as Twitter, and companies should be about to route and track these interactions just like they do with calls. If customer engagement is the goal, then service departments need more than omnichannel support. They need strategies to engage across channels.
Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and Analyst at TalkingPointz.