Guest Blog by Paul Jarman, CEO, NICE inContact
Excellent interactions—consistently and across all touchpoints–are the foundation of an effective customer experience that will build long-lasting customer relationships. Without the availability of adequate channels and processes to enable good quality engagement, all other aspects of the customer journey could be unwittingly blunted.
For companies investing in the customer experience as a differentiator, focusing on the appropriate technology is a priority to win, support and retain customers. Today’s customers do not only demand the best from products and services, they also demand the best from people and systems. Regardless of how, where or when the interaction is taking place, customers expect an excellent experience and anything short of that will not suffice. Our recent study highlighted that 79% of consumers will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad customer experience.
Customer habits are also changing and businesses need to be aware and ready to meet customer expectations even as they are constantly changing. For example, 15 years ago, the average consumer typically used two touch-points when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today, consumers use an average of almost six touch-points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.
Providing an excellent customer experience across all available channels is not just a nice thing to do. It is essential to maintaining success and staying one step ahead of the competition. But delivering this winning experience is easier said than done, and there is a lot at stake and not much room for error. Businesses need to make sure they are doing all they can to deliver the winning experience customers want.
First, businesses need to continuously monitor and understand what customers want and need. You’ll need to know how your customers and prospects want to be served based on different situations—making a purchase, getting information, or solving a problem. With that information, you will be better positioned to deliver the appropriate service experience. For example, 72% of consumers expect companies to know their purchase history regardless of the method of communication. Being aware of this is critical, and it’s not just a matter of ticking boxes and doing the bare minimum. Some companies fall behind by conducting business as usual without relentless focus on exceeding changing customer expectations.
You have to see it from the consumer’s point of view. You can be the best in the business at providing technical support over email, but if customers hate the experience of interacting with your company over email, it won’t matter how good you are at it. They will describe the experience as “bad” and likely seek a new provider. Omni-channel service can thus be a tricky process if the experience you deliver in all your channels is inconsistent. Through tools such as surveys, journey mapping or analytics, cloud technology can help a business gain a deep understanding of what the Voice of the Customer is saying about interactions on each channel and continuously improve the customer experience. Best in class Voice of the Customer monitoring enables you to perform better on every channel—and to continuously improve.
Today’s customers expect a seamless experience when interacting with a business. No matter the channel, customers will expect agents to be knowledgeable, friendly, and able to resolve their issues quickly. Our research also found that 9 out of 10 consumers want omni-channel service. If a customer has interacted online via chatbot and has then been redirected to another agent on the phone, they expect the agent to have access to the previous conversations and be able to continue the interaction without any hesitation.
Today’s consumers are vocal about the brands they love and aren’t afraid to share negative experiences through their network. According to a consumer study conducted by NICE inContact including consumers in the United Kingdom, we found that customers who have excellent experiences are more willing to: recommend that company on social media (83 percent), buy more products and services from that company (89 percent), and go out of their way to purchase from that brand (82 percent). But, one-time excellent service is not enough to cement loyalty as 81 percent of consumers reported that they are very likely to switch to another company if they’ve had a bad customer service experience.
If they fail to deliver a seamingless and omni-channel experience, businesses risk losing customers as well as making it harder to attract new ones.
An excellent omni-channel customer experience isn’t just about excellent tools. It’s also about equipping agents to deliver personalised, positive experiences. For contact centres, this generally means providing the necessary coaching and support but also technologies such as interaction recording, live monitoring, quality management and coaching, analytics, workforce management, or a combination of these activities. This will give the employee the best chance of delivering a satisfying customer experience—and will ensure that the employee also has a positive experience.
When businesses are saddled with outdated technology and processes, employees struggle to deliver an excellent customer experience and are less able to contribute to wider business goals. Processes like isolated annual reviews that fail to drive improvements because of the passage of time end up doing more harm than good. However, by providing regular quality management and feedback on daily interactions businesses can position employees to deliver their best work and contribute to achieving business goals. Through cloud workforce engagement in the contact centre, employees receive the feedback and support they need based on their interactions. If an angry customer feels his query hasn’t been addressed, – which is the ultimate bad interaction – the agent that handled the call will receive tailored feedback and training. On the other hand, an agent who manages to raise customer satisfaction through a timely resolution of a problem will receive gratification and reward. Tailored feedback will keep your workforce engaged and motivated.
Outdated processes will ultimately hinder businesses from meeting objectives. Conversely, modern cloud technology as a foundation for customer experience will open doors for business growth. Employees who do well or unwell will have different expectations in the age of the engaged employee. Employees, who are also customers, are just as expectant of engaging and productive relationships with their employers.
Transparency can align employees behind a common goal, help agents self-correct but also spread best practices. Contact centres are breaking down the information barrier using new, automated tools that allow agents to stay informed of not only their own performance but also that of the larger group such as team priorities, targets, review interactions and assessments. The cloud has made it easier for organisations of all sizes to not just access but also use these tools.
Employees are empowered by their awareness of their own skills and value, and by their instant access to information. Engaged employees who work well with managers and co-workers drive excellent customer experiences that result in business success.
The customer experience landscape is changing and today’s excellent customer experience might not be excellent tomorrow. A few years ago, omni-channel was a disruptive new idea but in 2019, it’s a basic requirement.
No one knows exactly how or how fast the consumer landscape will change in the coming years but by investing in the appropriate technology and processes, businesses can put themselves in a healthy position to meet demands of consumers today and tomorrow, by having the insights and agility to stay ahead.
In today’s competitive business world, ever-rising customer demands and greater scrutiny on spending means business have to do more with less. Customers, both consumers and business buyers, now expect rich, productive and personalised interactions with companies, and companies are expected to constantly and consistently deliver these interactions. Failure to do so could lead to long term damage to business reputation and customer loyalty.
By understanding customer needs continuously, empowering the workforce and investing in modern cloud technology, businesses can put themselves in great position to keep on delivering that excellent customer experience while keeping your workforce happy and engaged.