Today’s interview is with Laurence Chami, Managing Director of Eptica, a European provider of multichannel customer interaction software with a global reach. Laurence joins me today to talk about the work that Eptica are doing, the challenges that many companies face providing customer service via email, differences to approaches across geographies and why email as a customer service channel is here to stay.
This interview follows on from my recent interview: Different customers have different journeys and needs – Interview with Daniel Lind of Qmatic – and is number 128 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.
Highlights of my interview with Laurence:
- Eptica has found that there are differences across geographies, especially between France and the UK, when it comes to companies approach to email as a customer service channel.
- Eptica has been running a Multichannel Customer Experience Study for five years now both in the UK and France.
- Their research has shown that the number of companies in the UK offering email as a customer service channel has fallen from 87% in 2011 to 71% in their most recent study.
- When conducting their research, they went further and sent an email to 100 leading companies to test their response. What they found was that only 41% of the companies contacted provided an accurate answer to their question.
- However, in France the situation is different and the number of companies providing customer service by email is increasing.
- It was 74% in the past and has now risen to 81% in 2014.
- The situation is different is France as customers are pushing for emails as phone calls are a lot more expensive.
- Eptica believe it is a mistake for companies to turn off email as a channel as it restricts a customers options.
- Many companies in the UK are dropping email as a channel, primarily because it is not easy to manage.
- Eptica believe that email is very much part of the future of customer service and customers will still want it as they can send emails in their own time, can do it discretely and it allows them to track what has been said.
- Forrester says that 58% of customers want to communicate with their brands via email.
- Email as a channel is cheaper to manage than a phone channel.
- One of the challenges for many contact centres is that they mainly recruit people who are good on the phone and, therefore, don’t always have the right skills or management, analytical and knowledge base tools to effectively manage email as a channel.
- One of the key questions for customer service heads is how do they organise their teams: specialised teams focusing on specific channels vs. highly skilled and trained super-agents that cover multiple channels?
- If firms want super-agents then should they not make sure that they are rewarded for such a diverse and difficult role? Also, would doing this then attract the right sort of talent?
- However, the reality is is that companies do look at costs and it is also difficult to find the right people with the right skills to cover multiple channels.
- No one person can be expected to know everything about all of a firms products or services. But, perhaps a way to optimise the situation is to have specific product or service specialists that operate across all channels.
- Eptica worked with Tui to help them with their email channel and helped them raise productivity by 40% such that an agent went from answering 7 emails per hour to 12 emails per hour.
About Laurence (taken from her Eptica bio)
Laurence Chami began her career at Eptica in 2010 as the Operational Director for France and Southern Europe and in 2012 became VP Client Success. In January 2014, she was promoted to the position of Managing Director of Eptica.
A graduate in Applied Foreign Languages, Laurence Chami has spent over 20 years working for marketing services companies. In 1988, she joined Harte-Hanks as Production Manager before becoming European Sales Manager in charge of more than 40 sales staff.
In her next role in 2002, Laurence Chami was French Sales Director at Axicom (formerly Consodata) and was subsequently promoted to Solutions & Product Development Leader and then European Sales Support Leader.