It’s hardly news that brand loyalty is gone, and is not likely to return any time soon. In today’s marketplace, brands can no longer expect established brand equity to be a differentiator. What has emerged as the new differentiator for business is customer experience. Businesses who want to compete in a post-brand loyalty era need to stand out from the competition based on customer service and customer experience, and that requires adapting to the quickly changing communication preferences of consumers.
Already, more than half of consumers would rather message a business than call customer service. Partly, this is because the increased convenience that digital messaging offers; messaging is an asynchronous communication channel that allows consumers to take more control of their time when resolving a customer service issue. However, part of this shifting preference is rooted in a desire to avoid the perceived frustration of having to call a customer contact center on the phone.
The frustrations that customers experience when dealing with a voice-based customer service to resolve a service issue are hardly new. Time and again, customers rate their top frustrations with customer service as: long wait times, having to repeat their information to several people, and not getting a first call resolution.
However, just as important as these common customer complaints is the fact that customer frustration also impacts the agent experience of customer service agents working in contact centers. Frustrated customers make for frustrated agents, which inevitably impacts the quality of customer service your agents deliver. Agent frustration translates into less positive customer experience, which translates into more customer frustration, and so on. Unchecked, it can become a vicious cycle!
With the rise of social customer care, omnichannel customer service has been touted as a solution to customer contact difficulties; companies can reduce customer frustration by connecting with them in the time and manner of their choosing – or at least that’s what the hype promises. Unfortunately, the reality is that many contact centers have added digital channels haphazardly and now have agents using different individual platforms to serve different channels.
Additionally, individual solutions may not have an option to integrate with a central CRM – leaving your customer’s data scattered across several different platforms. So instead of getting a complete view of your customer’s history, interactions, and preferences – agents are only getting some pieces of the puzzle and not others, or they’re having to spend extra time and effort using time-consuming work-arounds.
So what is the solution to this conundrum?
Channel consolidation + integrated CRM
In 2018, digital customer service is no longer optional – your customers want to connect with you on digital channels, and they are willing to switch providers if they feel another company will give them a better customer experience. But with the explosion of digital channels, it’s no longer enough to add support for channels one at a time. Instead of having a solution for email, and a solution for chat, and for SMS, and Messenger, and Social… Businesses wanting to offer true omnichannel customer service need a platform that will consolidate all their digital communication channels into one interface.
This will benefit your customers and your agents. Your customers will be thrilled to get consistent service, regardless of which channel they choose to contact you. And your agents will be thrilled to have all their channels in one window that handles all communication types the same, regardless of channel.
The most important piece, however, of the customer/agent frustration puzzle is an integrated CRM that can tie together all your customer interactions – both voice and digital. Globally, the average consumer uses 3 or more customer service channels, and 75% of consumers expect a consistent customer experience across all customer service channels. To deliver a unified customer service experience, contact centers need to be able to push interaction details from any platform to a single CRM, so that your agents aren’t missing important details of a customer’s history.
Tying your CRM together across digital and voice is critical to delivering frictionless customer experience, because ultimately voice as a channel isn’t going away any time soon. For common simple service issues, digital customer care will become the platform of choice for consumers looking to resolve an issue with their service. However, there will always be times when a customer has a more complex issue requiring specific assistance when voice will be the most convenient channel, and ensuring that your agents have the tools they need to get a 360 degree view of your clients will enable you to deliver customer service excellence.