Published: January 16, 2020 | Comments
The start of a new year—a new decade—is an exciting time. It signals a fresh beginning, the opportunity to let go of what doesn’t work, and evolve and improve what does. Now, as we look back at the 2010s, one constant remains: Consumers want to do business with companies that provide exceptional customer service.
One way to do that is by offering the communication channels your customers prefer. But as we move forward into the new decade, it’s critical that contact centers not only offer more channel choices, but also create seamless and consistent experiences across channels.
Unify the Digital Experience
Over time, contact centers have added (and continue to add) automated solutions designed to streamline and improve customer interactions. The range of available technologies is vast.
Consumers have been accessing information through websites and mobile apps for years. Now, the addition of chatbots—and other channels often powered by artificial intelligence (AI)—provide even more ways for people to reach a brand and give brands more opportunities to improve customer experience.
Internally, organizations manage and evaluate customer interactions with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, contact center solutions and Customer Engagement Management (CEM) systems. These channels allow companies to maintain information on customer contacts, interactions and opportunities. They deliver analytics on sales trends, provide loyalty programs and manage communications.
But these technologies often don’t work together. According to research from Dimension Data, only 8.5% of contact centers have connected all channels. Just 35% are able to track interactions across multiple channels. Customers have to repeat information at each point of contact, and that creates frustration.
You can alleviate the frustration by implementing an omnichannel approach. Omnichannel connects the data between your various channels, making the complete history of a customer’s interactions visible to the agent. Customers are much happier when you can quickly get down to the business of solving their issues instead of asking for details they may have already provided through another channel.
Upgrade the Digital Experience
Poor experiences drive customers away. According to Zendesk, 66% of B2B and 52% of B2C customers stop buying after receiving what they consider to be a poor service interaction. The good news is that the opposite is also true. Customers who receive excellent service will spend 17% more.
Today, more than ever before, technology has created a wide variety of communication options to make it easier for the customer to do business with you. Unfortunately, technology can’t always produce the kind of experience that keeps people returning again and again. This is especially true with more complex problems. If the issue requires multiple channels or multiple agents, dissatisfaction is more likely.
Consumers don’t understand that technology tools are often provided by different vendors. Since they assume these tools are integrated, they become more frustrated each time they have to repeat themselves or re-enter information. Even the best agents can be working from a deficit by the time they connect with the customer.
Omnichannel goes beyond the simple connection of information. Companies that implement omnichannel see 51.5% improvement in satisfaction ratings from post-call surveys, CSAT scores and other measurement metrics. This is because an omnichannel approach saves customers from repeating themselves as often, saving time and elevating their experience. It also creates a more complete picture for the agent, leading to faster resolution of issues and higher customer satisfaction.
Understand the Digital Experience
Providing a variety of touchpoints for the customer is smart. Some needs are easily resolved with self-service tools, but many issues are more complicated, requiring escalation before they can be resolved. In fact, 68% of customers use multiple channels when interacting with a brand.
But what if customers use more than one channel because their preferred channel isn’t working the way it should? What if customers click through a website for an answer but can’t find it and then call to speak to an agent? What if they try to use a chatbot but can’t because the staffing hours don’t match up to need?
When channels are not connected, information is stored in silos, making it difficult to determine the causes of customer service issues. In organizations with divided channels, 76% can’t locate process blockages and 64% can’t identify key decision points, according to Dimension Data. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to resolve service issues if you can’t locate the root cause. An omnichannel solution aggregates information across all your channels, revealing where customer experience needs to improve. You can see where the customer clicked on the website, track whether they used the chatbot or called the contact center directly, then use this data to better understand how customers connect (or want to connect) with you.
The digital tools already utilized by contact centers are valuable. Contact centers will also continue to implement and improve these solutions. But as we look ahead for ways to differentiate, we must assess how best to use technology to truly connect with our customers and solve their issues quickly—in the manner and through the channels of their choice. This creates the positive customer experience necessary for success.
To accomplish this, omnichannel delivers a seamless interface to your customers, provides visibility for the agent and combines analytics that allow organizations to make informed, forward-thinking decisions.