Published: May 31, 2017 | Comments
Eight out of ten of customers will consider switching to a competitor due to poor customer service. With the hype of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies that help make customer service organizations more efficient, it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters: delivering a great customer experience at every opportunity. While technology is a great enabler, it’s important to develop your technology strategy around the core customer experience – not the other way around.
To make sure your strategy is building customer loyalty and not building resentment, an important first step is to take stock in how customers want to reach you and what options are most successful in helping them. inContact recently released a study identifying customer satisfaction hits and misses across 10 different customer service channels, which revealed human interaction is still the most preferred route for customer service – despite the industry’s increased focus on self-service channels. In no way does this indicate that self-service channels should be tossed aside; rather, brands should tune into their customer preferences to ensure they’re providing the best experience possible, whether it’s through live agents or self-service interactions.
Based on the study, I’ve outlined what stands out as most important to customers:
Customers want results, and they want them fast
A key theme that kept coming up throughout the survey is that when a customer initiates an interaction with a brand, they expect a speedy, helpful response. Seems intuitive, right? Maybe not, since only 42 percent of consumers said they are satisfied with their experience, regardless of communication channel.
Satisfaction for each channel of communication varies, but the main takeaway here is that “fast resolution” accounts for 30 percent of channel performance. In fact, resolving issues quickly is twice as important as “convenient” and “personalized” customer service (each scored 15 percent). As you assess which technologies are right for your organization, consider smart technologies that improve efficiency and speed contact resolution times.
They want to talk to a real person
The study revealed that speaking to a live agent is still the most preferred way to deal with customer service, with 67 percent of consumers saying they prefer agent-assisted channels. This is especially true if the issue is urgent, as phone is perceived to be the quickest path to resolution.
Interaction with an agent via phone edges out other channels in satisfaction, with phone cited as the most effective method of resolution. Inbound/outbound voice is the channel that sees the highest results for resolution, with 84 percent of customers indicating their questions or issues were resolved during their most recent customer experience via phone (versus just 65 percent for email).
What does this mean for self-service technology? Keep using it to your advantage and to automate the simple and mundane tasks. But also know when your customer just wants to speak to another human – and use technology to equip that human with all the background and answers they need to deliver an excellent customer experience.
They want you to know who they are without asking
Customers have high expectations for proactive customer service. While half of consumers will try to resolve an issue themselves before reaching out, once they make the first point of contact with your brand, they expect companies to direct them to the most effective method of communication for resolving their specific issue.
In addition, 72 percent also expect agents to know their purchase history, regardless of the channel of communication. This brings me back to my original point: model your technology strategy around customer experience expectations. Select a contact center software that integrates with your CRM technology in order to provide a higher level of service and familiarity with customers’ previous brand interactions.
Consumers have more choices today than they ever have in the past when it comes to goods and services, and customer experience is quickly becoming the biggest differentiating factor between competitors. Ensuring the right technologies and processes are in place to support customers successfully – on their terms – is crucial to winning and retaining their business.
This is the first of a few articles I’ll be writing for ICMI over the next few months on the inContact Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark Study – feel free to leave a comment below if you have any burning questions on the results, or if you’d like me to address a particular topic! My next piece will also focus on the realm of customer experience, diving deeper into the study.