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“Customer-first” has emerged as a buzzword in the customer service industry. And for good reason: Businesses that don’t serve their customers well tend not to stay in business for very long.
But while 60% of businesses say they place a premium on their customer service offerings, 54% of customers say today’s customer service feels more like an “afterthought” than a priority. That figure jumps to an abysmal 64% when talking to consumers under the age of 40.
In an environment where one bad customer service experience is enough for nearly half of customers to take their business elsewhere, you need to adopt tools and methods that put the customer first. These tools should give them the choice of how — and when — they engage with your brand. And they must create seamless experiences across every touchpoint.
And the best place to start is on the frontline — the contact center.
Even as customer experience (CX) has turned increasingly digital, traditional phone calls remain the most used customer support channel available to consumers. This is especially true for high ticket transactions and complex customer service issues. Yet, while consumers crave that human touch in their experiences, the last thing they want to do is wait on hold to get it.
Thirty-three percent of consumers say waiting on hold is the most annoying aspect of customer service. And call data from our clients shows customer satisfaction takes a nosedive after waiting on hold for 5 minutes or longer.
A virtual queue and callback system puts customers back in the driver’s seat of their service experience. Rather than waiting on hold, contact center managers can program the IVR to offer callers a callback — from the next available agent or at a time of the customer’s choosing — when the estimated hold time is longer than the designated threshold.
Callback allows customers to get back to their day and it takes the stress off contact centers — helping to ease peak call times, better forecast staffing needs to maintain service-level agreements and tee up agents for successful calls.
Pro Tip: Implement in-queue messaging (via text/SMS) to notify customers of their upcoming callback. These notifications reduce the chance for callers to miss a callback and allow them to reschedule, if needed.
To balance this, businesses with a customer-first mentality must deploy chatbots that can seamlessly escalate queries and requests to voice support when the artificial intelligence (AI) senses customer frustration or recognizes it can’t provide an adequate solution.
For example, when customers hit a digital dead-end with a chatbot, they typically call the contact center and restart their support journey. This costs customers time, and it costs businesses valuable interaction and tracking data.
But when the chatbot is programmed to offer a call from an agent, customers can escalate their issues without losing context. This means they can speak directly with an agent who knows who they are and what they need help with.
Customers don’t want to feel siloed into one support channel. Giving them the option of switching between service channels — chat and voice, in this case — makes for smoother customer experiences and faster resolutions.
Brands can’t put their customers first if they don’t take the time to listen to what they’re saying. And while most businesses collect customer feedback through customer satisfaction and Net Promoter surveys, sifting through all that information to find actionable data is complex when aggregator tools compile everything into a data lake.
A best-in-class feedback tool must be flexible — both in which channels it can deploy (increasing the likelihood that customers engage with the survey) and how it surfaces negative feedback that requires immediate action from CX managers.
For instance, after a customer interacts with an agent, a customer-first feedback tool allows those customers to opt-in for a survey via text, email, chat or voice channel. And if they indicate they had a negative experience, the AI can flag the response for an immediate follow-up from the CX team. This assures the customer their feedback was heard and prevents the situation from escalating, which could lead to lost revenue.
Smooth, cross-channel experiences provide the foundation for successful customer-first strategies. And they ultimately contribute to increased revenue and customer loyalty. Innovative callback, context-driven channel transitions and real-time customer feedback tools give brands the edge in a customer-first environment.
Mindful sits perfectly in the background of all three capabilities, offering brands the tools they need to turn customers into brand advocates while increasing contact center efficiency.
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