Customers are impatient with poor service. They want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Indeed, 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. Moreover, 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service, Forrester data shows.
It's no surprise that our recent survey data shows that customers of all ages are increasingly using self-service channels (web, mobile, IVR) for a first point of contact for customer service. In fact, for the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Self-service gives you that "pain-free" or effortless experience that consumers want. Customers escalate the harder questions to a live agent -- whether its chat, email or a phone agent -- and these calls become opportunities to help build stronger relationships with your customers to garner their long-term loyalty.
But contact centers are not delivering to expectations. We find that:
- Nearly two-thirds of contact centers don't manage inquiries in a standard way. Customers expect consistent service over the touchpoint or channel of their choice. They also expect to start an interaction on one channel and continue it on another without having to restart the conversation. However, 36% of contact centers have implemented multichannel integration to provide consistent experiences.
- Half of contact centers don't use knowledge management. Customers are increasingly using knowledge to self-serve. However, most companies only have basic FAQs on their site, and less than half of contact center decision-makers report using agent-facing knowledge management solution.
- Companies don't train contact center agents to manage omnichannel inquiries. Contact centers must shift agent resources in real time between communication channels to optimally align with incoming contact volume. However, we find that less than a third of contact center decision-makers train all of their agents to support multiple channels.
- Contact centers don't take care of the basics to deliver quality care. They don't effectively monitor the quality of care delivered or use these insights to recommend targeted coaching to address performance gaps. Just over a third use CTI to display a customer's information on an agent's screen; only half use quality monitoring tools to monitor the success of agent interactions.
Contact center managers need to understand their customer channel preferences, and deploy the channels that customers want to use. They must increasingly ensure that customers can self-serve. They must also understand common customer journeys and support customers as they cross engagement channels so that customers don't have to restart conversations. If contact centers don't modernize operations, customers will get increasingly disillusioned with the quality of service delivered, and these companies will suffer revenue losses from customers churning.
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