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Speed is Leading Indicator of Great Customer Experiences, No Matter the Channel

When it comes to delivering exceptional customer experiences, true omnichannel service and quick resolution go hand-in-hand. In my last article in this series, I discussed the importance of creating a true omnichannel strategy to cater to changing customer expectations. While the CX Transformation Benchmark Study reveals the emphasis customers place on wanting omnichannel service, it also found that the leading indicator of successful customer service is speed. Customers place resolving issues in the quickest way possible as their top driver of channel performance – whether agent assisted or self-service.

While demand for fast resolution across channels isn’t exactly surprising, what is surprising is the level of proactivity consumers expect from businesses. Of those surveyed, 87 percent stated that they expect companies to point them to the channel that will resolve the situation the fastest. If their current channel won’t get the job done, the onus is on businesses to redirect customers to the channel most likely to do so, whether that be live representative phone calls, emails or online chat. And, customers want a seamless transition between channels – 72% expect to be able to continue talking with the same representative on the phone as they were talking with via online chat.

Even an otherwise pleasant experience can leave consumers feeling negative toward businesses if it takes too long to resolve. How can businesses optimize their customer service for speed, while balancing the need for personalized, engaging touchpoints across all channels? Here are a few recommendations:

Streamline Agent Effort for Faster, Better Customer Experience

In many cases, what keeps agents from providing exceptional customer experiences is a clunky interface or redundant tools. According to a recent study from research firm Aberdeen, the typical customer service agent spends 15 percent of his or her time finding relevant information for customers, bouncing between an average of 5-7 interfaces. The problem is clear: agents simply cannot find information fast enough because their tools are a hindrance, not an enabler.

Streamlining agent effort is critical. Even with growth in self-service channels, agent-assisted interactions remain the most important driver of customer experience. Our recent CX Transformation Benchmark uncovered what we call the two-thirds rule: 1) over two-thirds of all customer service interactions, or total volume, are with live customer service agents (e.g. voice or chat); 2) over two-thirds of customers prefer agent assistance over self-service; and 3) over two-thirds of self-service interactions also end up involving agent assistance.

The need for improving the agent experience isn’t lost on businesses. The CX Transformation Benchmark Study found that in 2018, 36 percent are planning to upgrade their contact center technology. By implementing a unified agent experience with seamless omnichannel routing that captures customer journey context, businesses stand to streamline the agent experience.

Modern cloud customer experience technology can empower agents to be more efficient and effective, so issues can be resolved as quickly as possible through a contextual and personalized experience. When agents have the tools they need to improve performance, it also leads to better agent experiences and improved agent satisfaction – which ultimately improves their ability to consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Improve Channel Transitions

In theory, businesses should be able to shepherd customers towards the channel of fastest resolution to meet this customer expectation. Businesses echo customer prioritization of speed, at least for self-service channels, so it would seem that they would build their customer experience strategy accordingly. However, many businesses are still struggling to make channel transitions seamless, while retaining the relevant information necessary to reach a quick resolution.

Consider this scenario. A customer initiates an inquiry via online chat, and the business recommends engaging via phone with a live representative to speed up the process and more adequately serve the customer. Following this directive, the customer reaches out via phone. It is critical, at this stage, that the representative has available the customer journey to date, so the customer doesn’t need to re-explain or provide additional context for the inquiry – leading to a speedier and less frustrating resolution. While providing the customer context and history to a new agent when the customer calls in is an important step many contact centers have not yet mastered, the most seamless scenario is for the customer to never have to place that call. By enabling the agent to call the customer who they are talking with on chat, the conversation can continue – leading to the speediest and lowest effort resolution.

While building a channel environment that works together cohesively is important for a host of reasons, it is the ability to support customers’ desire for speedy resolutions that confirms the need for businesses to make seamless omnichannel a top priority.

Remember, Speedy Resolution Outweighs the Rest

To cap off the CX Transformation Benchmark Survey, we compiled a word cloud that captures the importance of quick resolution. Here are the top words that customers use to describe good experiences with a communication channel.

Customer Satisfaction 

Consumers commend businesses for quick and easy resolution from helpful agents. With this in mind, businesses can improve performance by using modern cloud customer experience technology that enables their customer service staff to provide speedy, seamless omnichannel support. This foundation creates a customer journey which is not only engaging, but also quickly and effectively meets customer expectations.

Be sure to check back for my last article in this series, where I’ll further explore consumer demand for omnichannel options – and which channels consumers say perform best.