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Netflix cues up the next show in seconds. Amazon suggests items to buy you didn’t realize you needed. And Tesla pushes over-the-air software updates for new features for your car via Wi-Fi. Consumers have grown accustomed to these exceptional experiences and now hold other organizations to that standard. And failure to deliver that level of customer experience (CX) can cost you.
But not every company is putting customer preferences first. When it comes to service interactions, the top criterion for consumers globally is first-call resolution (FCR), followed by getting a fast response, according to the “State of customer experience” report from Genesys. However, CX leaders say their businesses typically prioritize professionalism, speed and trustworthiness as factors that matter most in a customer interaction. And just 41% said their company is extremely effective in providing FCR.
Focusing on speed instead of resolutions means that customers might have to call back or interact with multiple channels. When this happens, consumers can become frustrated, less satisfied — and less loyal. In fact, only 4% of customers intend to repurchase following high-effort experiences, compared to 94% of customers with low-effort interactions.
This is true even for loyalty program members. Research revealed that, when loyalty program members encounter service failures like shipping issues, they became more upset than customers who weren’t members, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Let’s explore some ways to reduce customer effort.
Consumers want to be listened to, heard and understood regardless of the channel involved. And fully 75% of people who used digital channels for the first time during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic say they’ll continue to use them when things return to “normal,” according to McKinsey & Company.
That doesn’t mean it’s going perfectly. While consumers are interacting more with chatbots for service than in the past, they find the experience less rewarding. In 2017, 35% of consumers said they were highly satisfied with chatbots; in 2021, just 25% said the same.
In many cases, customers must switch channels for assistance. When customers engage directly with agents, they might have tried self-service unsuccessfully. If the customer has made multiple attempts to connect on other channels, those interactions — and the reasons for them — can provide valuable information for your entire organization.
There are a few ways companies can fix these issues.
Build better bots: Conversational bots use artificial intelligence (AI) to gather intent and streamline CX processes. Instead of receiving the greeting of “How may I assist you?” the customer is met with “I see you got an error on the previous page. Would you like help with that?”
Enhance self-service: Natural language understanding and predictive AI can make every self-service interaction feel personal. And, when an agent is needed, interaction context is passed to the agent for superior service.
Leverage CX analytics: Powerful analytics allows you to understand which customers are driving interaction volume, what their intents are and how to better engage them in the future. Agents can listen more carefully, align around consumer preferences and eliminate pain points in the journey.
Few things do more to undermine CX than forcing your customers to wait on hold. Only 20% of consumers consider it acceptable to wait longer than five minutes, according to the “State of customer experience” report. But consumers around the globe often wait twice that long.
CX leaders reported an average wait time during normal hours of 10 minutes, falling to just 8.4 minutes in off-peak hours. These numbers were relatively consistent across geographies and industries.
Don’t keep your customers waiting. Here are some ways to make it easier for them — and your agents.
Deploy voicebots: Automated virtual agents can answer calls with zero delay, 24/7. With access to relevant data, voicebots recognize your customers, understand the context of previous interactions and use AI to personalize conversations. Voicebots can then pass customers — and their information — to agents, when needed.
Use predictive routing: AI-powered automated routing personalizes CX by routing interactions to the agents most likely to resolve customers’ issues.
Offer a callback option: Callback gives customers control of the timing of a phone conversation. They can schedule a callback at a convenient time or request one immediately with just a click or IVR selection.
Improve workforce forecasting and scheduling: Better manage spikes in volume with a fully integrated solution that provides accurate forecasting and flexible scheduling.
Today more than ever, customers crave empathy more than efficiency. They want personalized interactions that make them feel remembered and valued, regardless of the channel they’re using, when they’re using it or how they interacted with you in the past.
The market leaders of tomorrow will orchestrate the entire customer journey across sales, marketing and service — providing tailored experiences every step of the way. They’ll match customers with the agents best suited to help them. And they’ll support employees with assistance technology that provides full context and next-best actions.
Making things easier — and more enjoyable — for your customers will only improve satisfaction and loyalty.
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