Customer Experience – Seeing ‘clearly’ in 2020

Having said goodbye to 2019, it’s the time of year when most of us will reflect on the events of the year, or the decade that has passed. It’s also the time most of us will think about New Year’s resolutions. While many of us might want to ditch the carbs or learn a new language, what will 2020 hold for business resolutions?

With Customer Experience a real differentiator, organisations can not afford to have a ‘business as usual’ mentality. Why? Because customer experiences, that don’t have a real business impact, isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Customer expectations are rising faster than a souffle at a festive dinner. And as such should constantly be accessed, because if businesses wait too long to rise to new customer expectations, it might sink their company’s reputation.

Weather you thank (or blame) technology for most of these new customer expectations, the shear amount of information accessible today at the speed of light and in the palm of people’s hands makes mostly everyone anticipate more. These expectations are at the top of the list for most businesses, well, at least in theory. Recent research by Forrester show nearly 95% of business leaders saying that providing a good customer experience is their top strategic priority and 75% want to use customer experience as a competitive advantage, however just 37% of business leaders have a dedicated budget for customer experience improvement strategies. This shows that the disparity between having great intensions and ideas for CX and the actual implementation thereof.

In order to deliver enhanced customer experience, businesses need to understand what customers want now and how it will drive their satisfaction and loyalty.

It’s kind of curious that in the all-encompassing online world we have come to accept, in which so many business and personal interactions can be anonymous, customers want very personalised experiences. While many of us love the convenience of online shopping, we still prefer the personal one-to-one experience of visiting a brick and mortar shop.

Customers expect a business to have all the information on products or services where they expect to find them. And when it’s not where they expect to find it, they simply leave. Research by Sales cycle revealed the average cart abandonment rate for retail ecommerce sites reached 84.24% in the first half of 2019. Having technology able to identify when consumers are struggling or hesitant to complete their purchase could have a dramatic increase on the bottom line. In fact, one of the UK’s biggest pharma retailers saw a significant drop in shopping cart abandonment rates after implementing live chat triggers to alert agents to hesitant shoppers.

Customers want to be able to interact with a company and its people anywhere across various channels like self-service, voice, digital and social channels. And although voice is still a popular option, customers now expect to be able to find the answers for themselves online. In fact, experts at Gartner predicted that 85 percent of customer interactions to be handled without human agents in 2020.

Self-service is by no means a new concept, but according to Forrester it was one of the top trends in 2019 and it’s not going to go away soon. Self-service is no longer a “nice to have”. It’s a necessity to providing a positive customer experience. Dimension Data reports growth in every digital channel and a 12% decrease in phone volume with customers of all ages moving away from using the phone to using web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots as a first point of contact with a company.

However, shockingly, according to Northridge Group, businesses are still struggling to deliver the fundamentals of great customer experience with 57% of consumers saying that they frequently have trouble finding answers on a company’s website. The problem appears to be that businesses implement these self-service options from a business’ perspective, not from their customers’ view. The business creates the experience based on what they want the customer to do and see; not on what the customer may want to do instead.

So, while offering as many channels to communicate as customers demand is important, it’s probably more vital that communication is seamless and agile.

Investing in integrated knowledge across a website, contact centre and channels like live chat will ensure consistent and accurate answers from a single source of truth. Customer service handled via automation should not be complex to use.

Customers’ tolerance for jumping through hoops has diminished dramatically over the years. Customers now believe they should have what they want the minute they request it. They don’t want to repeat themselves and expect the same great service during peak and quieter periods.

However, before businesses can determine how to develop the ideal customer experience, they must decide what that term means to them; customer experience means different things to different industries.

And whilst understanding the elements of the customer experience strategy is a good first step — successfully implementing it is another. We believe these 9 key points might provide some assistance to businesses wanting to kick-start their customer experience strategy in 2020.

Plan for the worst-case scenario

High call volumes come at times of crisis or peak trading periods. Having the right technology in place to support contact centre staff is imperative.

Plan to be flexible

The contact centre is only one contact channel available for customers – dependent on the nature of the enquiry, would it benefit the company and customers to handle enquiries across other channels like a Chatbot/Intelligent Virtual Assistant, Live Chat, FAQ self-service or Social channels.

Be integrated

Are all contact centre staff up-to-date with the latest information and how is this maintained through technology? When staff shifts change or if they leave, does it affect the transferral of knowledge – how is this communicated. Do you have an Agent Knowledge-base?

Enhance resources

Given all the tools needed (such as a cloud contact centre solution), is it possible, in times of crisis or peak trading times, for temporary and non-frontline staff to be used as agents following minimal training?

Be pro-active

Avoid the need for customer to call in the first place. Is there another channel by which they could answer their queries? Push out service updates via social media to communicate with customers in advance of any issue to minimise contact?

Measure and control

Quickly and efficiently responding across contact channels to customer queries is key – is there a mechanism in place to monitor customer feedback to improve the quality of products and services and level of response in the future?

Prioritise

Do most customers need support during work hours, or do they frequently require assistance out of office hours? Which are the most effective/popular convenient contact channels for customers – focus on these first.

Training

It is imperative that all contact entre staff are trained to handle support, especially during seasonal influxes of contact. Effective communication, getting answers to customer quickly and consistently across all channels, can have a huge impact on how customers perceive your brand.

Prepare to adjust

A legacy infrastructure often risks only noticing failure when all has gone wrong. It doesn’t have the ability of gathering granular information to help understand how any issues might be developing. Investigate your infrastructure to see if it should be improved, updated, or replaced by more relevant technology.

Wishing you a prosperous 2020

Patiently building a business case that shows how technology solutions will meet user needs, and therefore encourage the uptake of digital channels, will help to allay fears of making poor decisions or going down the wrong path in 2020.

The resources section of our website can offer insight and the technology for developing your customer experience strategy such as:

1. Reducing customer contact – improving first contact resolution
2. Offering a consistent multi-channel customer service
3. Improving operational and service cost efficiency
4. Increasing customer satisfaction & loyalty levels

And to prove the return of enhanced customer experience by leveraging technology, why not see for yourself with our ROI calculator?

Are you ready to take the next step towards delivering exceptional customer experience, driven by AI technology that can deliver quick-win business results?

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