In today’s digital economy, there have never been more opportunities for businesses and their customers to interact. Chat, text, social media, websites, IVR, even traditional phone calls with customer service representatives – the list continues to grow. Modern customer expectations have never been higher, and businesses understand that customer experience is a leading brand differentiator. To ensure that customer needs are met, businesses are prioritizing delivery of a true omnichannel experience, enabling each channel to work together cohesively with seamless transitions. Whether or not they’re succeeding in this initiative is something else entirely.
Businesses believe they are delivering on the promise of omnichannel experiences, but this perception doesn’t align with those of their customers. According to the NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark Study, consumers rated customer service 17 percent lower, on average, across more than 10 channels, than businesses rated their own success in meeting customer needs. This is an alarming discrepancy. While the pressure to provide seamless omnichannel customer experiences is constant, the first step is recognizing that improvements need to be made.
According to the study’s findings, here are the primary areas where businesses and their customers aren’t seeing eye-to-eye:
As businesses grow smarter in their ability to understand their customers, offering unique, individualized interactions is increasingly important. In fact, of the consumers surveyed, 21 percent rated personalization their top priority. This is a testament to the fact that customers don’t view their relationship with brands as transactional or siloed – it’s part of a holistic approach that encompasses every touchpoint. Given the tools available to businesses, every interaction, every purchase, every previously opened ticket should be easily available to inform agents and create a customized dialogue.
Unfortunately, businesses do not share customer enthusiasm for personalization. Only 13 percent of organizations see it as a high priority for customer service strategies. Instead, businesses are leaning towards offering easy access to information regarding any given issue (24 percent). This indicates that businesses are doubling down on short-term customer experience, rather than nurturing customers for life through personalization. When brands commit to providing thoughtful, positive and engaged customer experiences, it leads to increased loyalty and engagement.
Adapting to New Tools
Despite alignment on the value of traditional channels such as agent-assisted phone calls, the research uncovered a disconnect between consumers and businesses in how to best approach new channels, like online chat. The study showed that while 39 percent of consumers placed online chat as one of their most preferred channels of engagement, only 16 percent of businesses echoed that support.
Feedback from customers is clear: in their eyes, chat routinely results in positive outcomes, yet businesses haven’t caught up on chat. Commonly, many businesses struggle to provide a seamless transition from chat to other channels, explaining some of the hesitation to embrace it. While businesses are still learning how to best use chat, listening to their customers’ preferences and ensuring they have the support for chat is key to any customer experience mix. The longer businesses wait, the greater chance they will lose customers to competitors that are a few steps ahead.
As expectations shift based on new, innovative technologies, businesses will need an agile cloud customer experience platform to enable a truly seamless omnichannel experience. Technology can help companies to fully understand, prepare for, and meet the needs of today’s consumers. It can also help businesses close the gap between perception and reality, while staying flexible enough to continuously prepare for the future.
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
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