Driven by the impatience of the millennial mindset, people are more likely than ever before to stop doing business with brands that are unwilling or unable to meet today’s consumer engagement standards. According to the recent Aspect Consumer Experience Index survey fifty-eight percent of consumers said they felt underappreciated by the companies they do business with. So it should surprise no one when Salesforce State of the Connected Consumer survey found that 70 percent of consumers say technology has made it much easier for them to take their business elsewhere.
Empowered by the smartphone and emboldened by social media, the selfie-focused, do-it-myself behaviors of today’s consumer have progressively seized complete control of the company-customer relationship. So what can companies do to engender loyalty among the empowered and increasingly fickle consumer? Here are four essential moves you’ll need to achieve customer service excellence and meet the interaction demands of the digital-first consumer.
- Get Yourself Connected
No one wants to repeat themselves. And in general, companies have done a decent job addressing this over the past several years. But hastily-deployed chatbots and self-service solutions have created service silos that are leaving interaction histories disconnected from the 360-degree views customers expect to have with a brand. 76 percent of consumers in the Aspect survey said it was very important to them that a company’s customer service is available in a wide variety of connected channels so they can contact that business when they want and in any way they want.
Why it matters: With the average cost of a contact center agent being around $1 a minute and the global metric for call duration is 4 minutes, reducing agent-handled calls can save hundreds of thousands of dollars or more (depending on size and scale) of a contact center’s costs.
- Everything in Context
One thing consumers make glaringly clear is that they expect any interaction to be part of their entire customer journey and not a collective set of isolated experiences. So if they use self-service of automated chatbots they don’t want the experience to be disconnected should the issue get too complicated and require talking to an agent. This is why a whopping 80 percent of consumers expect any previous interactions or transactions to be immediately known and available in an agent-assisted interaction.
Why it matters: 96% of the consumers surveyed said when contacting customer service about the same issue, they should be able to pick up where they last left off, regardless of channel. Because not providing this ability creates frustration which leads to dissatisfaction and eventually churn and burn.
- Engagement Must Get Personal
The preference for personalized experiences and self-service interaction is rapidly accelerating. In fact, two-thirds of the consumers in an Aspect survey said receiving a personalized customer experience is MORE important than the speed of the service delivered. The success of companies such as specialized retailer MTailor, who use a smartphone app to design and deliver perfectly customized men’s wear tells us that personalized branding experiences can yield customer loyalty. In fact, 67 percent of consumers in the Aspect study not only said that a personalized experience is very important to them, but that it actually creates a faster service experience.
Why it matters: personalization creates loyalty, loyalty means retention and increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by as much as 95%.
- Do Your Digital Diligence
Facebook has over 34,000 chatbots on Messenger and over 7 million people now have Amazon’s Alexa at home as their personal digital assistant. But the good news for companies is that consumers want them too. Half said they would prefer to conduct all customer service interactions via text/chat/messaging and 44 percent said that they would prefer to use a chatbot to do so, but many worry that automated interaction with a brand will provide the same frustrating experience that poorly designed IVRs do. This is why the best performing chatbots are the ones designed to handle simple to moderate transactions versus the complex interactions best handled by live agents with subject matter expertise.
Why it matters: Converting just a portion of live agent inbound calls to automated interactions will save labor expense, reduce telephony costs and, most importantly, improve customer experience. For example, if a person makes a “call me” command to connect with a live agent after initiating a chatbot interaction, and a customer service agent calls that customer, a contact center will pay about 33 percent less for the outbound calls than they will for answering an inbound call.
Meeting consumer expectations is critical to keeping the business you’ve worked so hard to build. Understanding the mindset of today’s consumer and developing strategies to address them will build loyalty, retention and great revenue growth.
Latest posts by Jim Freeze, SVP, CMO (see all)
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