Most people expect to be able to interact with family, friends and neighbours instantly using the channel and device of their choice. According to Ofcom, 82% of households have fixed broadband, and 89% have mobile broadband. These levels of connectivity bring expectations and increased demands when we interact as customers with organizations. But are organizations responding to this demand from the digital consumer of today?
To build a successful organization in 2015, regardless of industry or sector, you cannot do so without successfully managing connected customers. Whether they are complaining, have queries or are deciding to purchase a car, holiday, utility service, policy for insurance or even simply pay their council tax, connected customers have higher than ever expectations of customer service.
According to Ofcom:
- 66% of people in the UK are now using smartphones
- 39% are using tablets
- 96% of mobile users text at lease once a week
- 52% of people email at least once a week
- 58% regularly use instant messaging on any device
- 72% of internet users have a social media profile
Understanding customers as they interact with organizations is not only a fascinating window onto human behavior but done well can evaluate what customers’ expect and also expose what they truly experience on a day to day basis. Why this matters to organizations is that brands and services can soon be perceived by 21st century connected customers to be lagging behind and out of touch.
Does your channel strategy mirror where consumers spend their time?
No customer takes pleasure in being undervalued, regardless of their level of loyalty to a brand or their patience with an organization. When interacting they want to move from channel to channel whether by voice, webchat, email, SMS or otherwise (such as video chat or social media). So organizations must be ‘customer ready’ to deliver better multichannel experiences.
In return organizations will have more and better opportunities to build relationships with customers and therefore improve revenues and/or service.
Better digital experiences for your customers to maximise sales
In the past call centers were about lean service and cost efficiencies, and therefore not always about being customer-focused. Opportunities to drive customers online to self-serve to save costs failed to highlight in practice the problems customers may have. In the race to migrate customers to the lower cost online channels, many organizations were slow to fix and customer service standards plummeted in the post dot.com era. At the same time sales suffered because of poor service online.
As a result, in our focus group research at Davies Hickman we have often heard digital customers complain of:
- Phone numbers being hidden on websites (or not available at all)
- IVR replacing human contact
- Slow response to e-mails
- Agents not fully answering questions on webchat
- Inconsistent information online, compared to the contact center
- Poor support for customers using Apps
- Transactions requiring too much personal data
Assisting customers by phone, email, webchat and video chat are valued as useful by those wanting help when completing forms and finalising transactions online, whatever device customers are using. With 85% of people buying things online, organizations should therefore ensure website experiences and usability meet the diverse range of customers’ needs.
Offering multichannel integration to improve customer service is the #1 ranked priority amongst contact center decision makers
(‘Cloud Gazing’ Syntec research , conducted by Davies Hickman)
As connected customers, we move from channel to channel when we need help but also when we are researching products, complaining, have queries or make purchases. So ideally the level of customer experience needs to be consistent across all channels, and it is the detail and context of each and every interaction with customers that needs to be carried from one channel to another. Syntec’s research with IT Managers working in Contact Centers ranked improving multichannel integration as their number one priority of improvements needed. Customers want organizations not only to move with them from channel to channel but for agents, and the supporting processes they rely on, to remember their previous interactions. With agents being informed about customers’ existing data they can meet customers’ expectations of a more individualised service.
How will the digital customer change in the future?
How will the customer service marketplace go beyond the convenience of instant solutions through apps and self-service? It is likely that sensors will soon be integrated into billions of consumer products. Experts predict the sensor market and this ‘internet of things’ will be worth $29bn by 2020. For instance we already have the driverless car such as the Audi Prologue and connected domestic thermostats from Nest, Honeywell and others.
The next decade will see the rise of what Davies Hickman calls Smart Service, where organizations will track the performance of their products and contact the user in case it seems likely that something is about to go wrong. The role of the contact center in this new world will be not only reactive, but also pro-active in contacting consumers to anticipate problems as well as more ordinarily to sell in services or set up renewals of their products. Additionally, when consumers call or otherwise connect with contact centers the agents will be better informed about issues with products and services, as well as the customer who’s contacting them, thereby reducing customer effort.
44% of Contact Center IT decision makers want to individualise customer experiences, with agents informed about customers before the call
(‘Cloud Gazing’ Syntec research , conducted by Davies Hickman)
Today and into the foreseeable future, due to this seismic shift in customer connectivity, organizations need to know their customers better. ‘Big Data’ has major implications for customer service in the digital age, particularly with CRM integration and analytics empowering frontline contact center staff with information about customers in real-time. The end point should be improved products, services, multichannel connectivity and higher customer satisfaction levels, ensuring that customers not only become more loyal but share this with their friends, family and neighbours.