Customer experience (CX) is the new tool for competitive differentiation and every company large and small is investing in creating better experiences for their customers. NICE inContact Global CX Benchmark study, 2019 shows that great service can build brand loyalty among 81% of customers and turn 87% of them into advocates. So, the case is built to show that there is true Customer Life Time Value (CLTV) in driving better CX.
With contact centers being the hub for customer interaction, it is really critical to measure CSAT for every transaction as well as measure the long term impact through other metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and CLTV. Here are some approaches to ensure that your call center software is robust enough to drive greater Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).
- Open new channels, ones that matter
- Deliver true omnichannel experience, eliminating digital silos
- Open up digital self-service channels
- Reduce Agent effort not just customer effort
- Ask customers where you need to improve
As demographics change, customer preferences for channels change too. While voice is definitely the predominant channel across the board, various digital channels are evolving, as much as 30 or 40 if you were to put a number. In fact, as you look at a research from NICE inContact Global CX Benchmark study, 2019, a segmentation by customer demographics shows that there is strong preference to digital channels with Gen Z while the baby boomers prefer voice over other channels.
As you grow your business across segments, make sure to open up channels that matter the most based on customer demographics. Customers need preference on channels they would like to interact with. Opening up the right set of channels is an important first step, specially the newer digital channels which have many flavors starting from simple SMS to Facebook or LINE. Take time to research the channel that your customers are in, most of the time. It can be based on geography too – you might want to open up Whatsapp in India vs Facebook Messenger in the USA.
The benefits of opening up those digital channels is the call deflection and cost efficiencies. Case in point is Vera Bradley who got SMS texts in their 1 800 phone call number even before advertising it and found a significant deflection of over 7% right after roll out. It is indeed evident that your customers are reaching you in channels that you are not even aware of.
As you open up channels, it is also important to note that it is not just quantity but the right choice of channels. Think about your business models, use cases for your customers to reach you and narrow down the channels that best solve a customer’s issue. If you are in the business of selling modems and troubleshooting them, it might be prudent to add video as a channel vs add video when you have to solve for a healthcare billing issue.
Digital is pervasive and we see adoption but when it comes to how they are being managed in contact centers it not a surprise that contact centers don’t see voice and digital in the same lens. They might have different systems, different scheduling, different agents for digital vs voice. The challenge is if it is a digital channel conversation, the customer might be lost in a digital silo. If the digital conversation needs elevation to voice, it is typically a long wait time and transfer to an agent and the details from digital conversations never get transferred over. The divide will frustrate customers. Look for unified operations like scheduling across digital and voice, using one single unified system for both types of channels and most importantly one multi-channel ACD to route them all in a single queue to one true universal agent. Investing in a true multichannel workforce management solution for unified forecasting and scheduling is key as well as a single omnichannel ACD.
Omnichannel experience is the holy grail for contact center and it remains elusive to a lot of centers. And, NICE inContact Global CX Benchmark study, 2019 says that it is still the case with most customers really frustrated with channel switching. When your customers come in a channel they want to make sure that the problem they reached out to get solved, is solved completely.
To achieve true omnichannel capabilities it is important for the agents to have an ability to pivot to another channel within the same transaction. That would eliminate repeat interactions, resolve issues the first time and drive CSAT. If you are chatting about a modem set up, you would rather have a call or a video chat with the agent to resolve it right there than have to call back since it is tough to solve it over say chat through the customer’s reach out channel. It is so important to not leave that conversation and go across channels easily. Something that becomes effortless and over time gets channel-less..
While customers would like to have their problems resolved quickly, they often find themselves in long queues. They would rather be empowered to solve their own issues. Self service has long been leveraged be it an IVR, virtual agent or FAQ. They have definitely taken a more robust form with newer technologies in Artificial intelligence (AI) like Natural Language Processing (NLP). AI driven chatbots and voicebots are seen as a great alternative for customers to self solve issues. As you can see from Forrester research, AI technology is still not widely embedded in contact center applications but there is great interest and plans to invest in AI. Not just that, with high deflection rates, it is going to be massive saving in contact center costs. AI is still maturing and evolving, so care should be taken to ensure that when an AI bot fails, there is a warm transfer to an agent with all the context from the bot. Also, the key to success is to select use cases that are simple and repetitive and have better containment rates.
Agent experience is a critical factor for delivering greater CX. Happy agents make happy customers. So it is very critical to ensure that everything at the agent side of the house is taken care of to provide high CSAT. This includes a real unified desktop where agents can select and work through both digital and voice interactions. Digital can be asynchronous and concurrent, while voice is synchronous and needs immediate attention. A truly universal agent is now empowered to choose the right amount of interactions in the queue and be much more efficient. Getting data about customers right at fingertips, be it from CRM, ERP or other systems is very critical to getting customer context. And, solving it with an expert working hand-to-hand gets possible with a simple Unified Communications integration. Not just that bringing in analytics on sentiment or previous interactions gives so much more context for the agent to handle difficult situations. Investing in agent facing AI technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and auto dialers can help agents focus more on the customers and leave the mundane tasks for automation.
Often times we assume that we have done the right things. You wont know it until you have a good feedback management system. Nothing is as precise as asking the customers how you did in the service interaction. Include feedback surveys in digital channels like SMS, chat or other channels where you have had that interaction rather than rely on the older voice based methods. It can get much easy with a simple SMS rather than have someone spend few minutes in a voice survey call. Design your survey to be precise and isolate the root cause on failure points if any. And, once you know how your customer feels make sure to have an immediate action to close the feedback loop. If they are unhappy automatically open an escalated ticket to resolve their issue. Similarly you can leverage the positive feedback by having them recognize your service in social channels.
Creating an exceptional customer experience is not easy. It involves aligning people, process and technology not just within contact centers but sometimes beyond contact centers. And it is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is all about being consistent in your service every single time in every single touch point across the customer lifecycle.
ICMI has built a CX maturity model that shows you where you stack up in the CX maturity curve and how to move one step at a time.Building exceptional customer experience and driving CSAT involves a team work across groups. It is best executed with a vision and top down approach. Contact center is a critical piece in that puzzle and has the greatest impact in driving enhanced CX. Start your journey of transformation now with your contact center.