Hyundai Motor America may have less than 10% of the U.S. car market, but it wants to be the most loved car company in the world, and it's counting on a revved-up customer experience management strategy to get it there.
Hyundai assessed its contact center operations and determined it needed to improve its customer service to create a greater bond between its customers and the Hyundai brand, according to Tiffany Stroupe, who stepped in as manager of call center and customer operations last year. She provided an overview of the project at the International Customer Management Institute’s ACCE conference held in New Orleans earlier this month.
The contact centers were so busy putting out fires that they never had time to come up with a plan to prevent fires in the first place, Stroupe said. Hyundai didn’t have standardized customer response strategies across its national and regional call center locations. Customers could get different stories depending on where their call landed.
Improve CEM project by finding a trusted advisor
To get started, Stroupe hired Tarp, a contact center consultancy based in Arlington, Va., to help with the project. She strongly recommends that any manager heading up a customer service project find someone on the outside to be a sounding board and adviser.
“It could be any vendor, supplier or consultant that is really in sync with the needs of the client,” Stroupe said.
With Tarp's assistance, Stroupe identified several areas that needed either organizational or technological improvements to help the car company better connect with its customers. Hyundai made the following changes over the past 12 months:
- Upgraded its Oracle Siebel CRM software from an older version to a 8.1, so “now we are at where we should be,” Stroupe said.
- Extended its call center hours, which had long been traditional business hours, to include weekends.
- Set expectations for agents by frequently visiting staff and talking to them about the changes. Stroupe said this step was critical to get agents on board. She wanted them to not only know what changes were taking place but why the company decided to make those changes.
- Created documentation processes so call center managers no longer kept their best practices and important processes in their heads only.
- Implemented a team call and email monitoring and review process so agents could learn from their peers on best practices for customer interactions.
- Reworked its service-level agreements with customers. Most important, “you need to take care of the customers,” Stroupe said. “It’s not important if you answer a call in 20 seconds if you don’t get it right.”
- Committed to a 24-hour turnaround for escalated problems. While this policy was at first met with skepticism, regional teams and team leaders have adapted, Stroupe said.
Customer service role starting to change
It is difficult to measure the direct bottom-line impact the changes have had in the past year. But now that the contact center isn’t lurching from crisis to crisis, it is able to take on a more proactive role within the company. For example, it participated in the June launch of Blue Link, a service similar to the well-known OnStar program, for Hyundai drivers.
Hyundai hopes Blue Link becomes just one example of how to create emotional connections with its customers. The service includes a feature for parents that enable them to better monitor their teenagers’ driving experience by providing alerts for curfews. Another option lets them program geographical ranges to which a teen driver must adhere.
Also, the contact center is working closely with marketing, which is more open to the contact center’s feedback on customer issues, Stroupe said. The contact center often hears from customers expressing opinions on advertising, and it is now funneling that feedback to marketing.
As Hynudai rolled out its contact center changes, it decided to set up a contact center dedicated to the customers of its new luxury line, Equus. Using lessons learned from its customer service improvements, Hyundai plans to create an Equus customer center that is a community for dealers, customers and the company with multichannel support.
What’s next at Hyundai
Stroupe said the next goal is to get Hyundai to standardize on one CRM platform. In addition, Stroupe’s team will continue to work on creating a single voice when responding to customers across the company. Another objective is to build a single-source knowledge base so agents have access to customer profiles and histories. Finally, Hyundai will set up a tiered-organizational structure for agents so there is more opportunity for career advancement.
Looking forward, Stroupe said the plan is to create a “hand-holding model” to work with customers, “not like a stalker, but in a good way.”