Published: November 05, 2017 | Comments
Businesses today know that they need to create an omnichannel customer experience to meet the needs of consumers, who are looking to engage with companies anytime and through any method (i.e., channel), they choose. Many businesses have begun to deploy a strategy to meet these omnichannel customer service demands, and in doing so, believe that they are delivering an excellent service experience.
But businesses’ perceptions of how they are performing do not always align perfectly with those of their key stakeholders – their customers. In fact, according to NICE inContact’s CX Transformation Benchmark Study – Business Wave, consumers rated customer service 17% lower, on average across more than 10 channels, than businesses rated their own success in meeting customer needs. This disconnect represents a major issue for businesses that are under growing pressure to provide a seamless omnichannel customer experience.
If organizations remain overconfident in their ability to deliver an engaging customer experience, they’ll remain at a disadvantage. Today, consumers have more options than ever and have raised their expectations for customer service – making customer experience a key differentiator in attracting and retaining their business. It doesn’t matter if businesses think their customer service is great – if consumers don’t love their customer experience, they’ll turn to a competitor that meets their expectations. It is critically important that businesses are in tune with customer perceptions and adjust their customer experience strategies accordingly.
According to our study’s findings, here are two key areas where businesses and consumers are not speaking the same language:
While resolving questions in the quickest way possible is the highest priority for both customers and businesses, personalization is paramount. As innovative technologies such as advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are fundamentally improving customer service processes, consumers want businesses to provide a unique, personalized interaction at every touch point. In fact, of the consumers surveyed, 21 percent rated personalization their top priority. This is symptomatic of the fact that customers don’t view their relationship with brands transactional or siloed. Given advancements and tools available to businesses, every interaction, every purchase, every previously opened ticket should be easily available to inform agents and create a customized dialogue.
Interestingly, businesses do not share customer enthusiasm for personalization – only 13 percent of organizations see it as a high priority for customer service strategies. Instead, businesses are leaning towards offering easy access to information regarding any given issue (24 percent). This approach makes sense in theory, as it is particularly beneficial for new customers who seek easy resolution, but it is short-sighted. Personalization is about building a long-term relationship based on insights into continuous touch points. The result? A thoughtful, positive brand narrative that increases loyalty and engagement.
Embracing Emerging Tools
Even though both consumers and businesses continue to give agent-assisted voice phone calls their highest success ratings, on average, the research uncovered a disconnect between consumers and businesses in how to best approach new channels, like online chat. The study showed that while 39 percent of consumers placed online chat as one of their most preferred channels of engagement, only 16 percent of businesses echoed that support. That’s a 23 percent gap.
Businesses are still learning how to best use chat. It is a relatively new platform compared to tried-and-true options, but it promises to be a huge productivity driver – enabling agents to solve issues quickly and to also multi-task. Many businesses also struggle to provide a seamless transition from chat to other channels, like voice. However, feedback from customers is clear: in their eyes, chat routinely results in positive outcomes. The longer businesses wait to embrace and optimize chat, the greater chance they will lose customers to competitors that deliver a great chat experience.
So where do we go from here?
While there are multiple gaps between what consumers want and how businesses are living up to those expectations, there are proven paths to improve. As customer expectations shift based on new, innovative technologies, businesses will need agile customer experience (CX) platforms that enable a truly seamless omnichannel experience. Implementing technology to fully understand, prepare for, and meet the expectations of today’s consumers will help businesses close the gap between perception and reality, and stay agile enough to continuously prepare for the future.
Stay tuned to ICMI over the next few months as I dive deeper into the 2017 NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark Study - Business Wave. Have any questions or would like to see me expand on any particular comment? Feel free to drop a line into the comment section below. My next piece will talk further about building a seamless omnichannel strategy.