By Arnab Mishra
Long gone are the days when consumers relied on a company's customer support team to solve their problems. Instead, as the availability of digital and mobile technologies continues to grow, there has been a shifting away from the traditional customer-agent interaction model toward one focused on the online experience. Consumers can now get the entire retail experience, from browsing to buying to problem resolution, without ever stepping foot in a store or speaking with an employee.
Today, we are entering a new digital customer journey, one in which consumers prefer to self-serve first via their devices and only turn to calling or direct online interaction with a contact center agent if they can't resolve an issue on their own. The transition won't necessarily be a smooth one however, and companies must be ready to overcome several new challenges as they try to understand consumer interactions across the new spectrum of digital touch points while continuing to keep customers happy. So how can companies better prepare for this digital customer journey?
Create a uniform omnichannel customer experience
As customers' options for interacting with businesses continue to multiply, it's essential to create a seamless experience across each of these channels. If consumers prefer to self-serve first, give them the tools to do so by creating easy-to-navigate websites and social media — and that includes the mobile version as well as the standard site. Develop a FAQ page providing answers to any product or company questions they may have, as well as multiple methods of contacting the customer service team via email, phone, direct message or app. Rather than simply reacting to customers’ needs, companies should work to anticipate these issues and proactively guide them through the customer journey. Of course, for those that do choose to reach out to customer service, it is equally important that team members be trained in all the available contact channels so that they can respond to inquiries quickly and efficiently.
Connect disparate data for analytics
With the wealth of detailed consumer data available today, personalization of the customer experience is now easier to achieve than ever before. At the same time, however, customers rarely operate within a single channel or even on just one technology. In order to develop a holistic view of who your customer is, their history and the outcomes of any previous interactions with the company, customer service centers need to be able to compile data from multiple disparate locations and systems. Data-driven analytics can't work if information is kept in silos, and companies need a solution capable of merging and analyzing data from any available systems if they hope to overcome the issues posed by lack of insight into their customer relationships.
Enable real-time decision making capabilities
60 percent of consumers have higher expectations for customer service today than they did just one year ago. By the time they reach out to a customer service team member, consumers will more than likely have already exhausted all readily-available information regarding their issue and expect a quick and efficient resolution from an expert. In order to ensure that these expectations are being met, customer service teams need a solution with real-time analytics and routing capabilities. These solutions can analyze the customer's history and their specific inquiry, and in turn automatically connect them with the team member best suited to handling their individual needs.
One thing is certain for companies as they make the transition to the new digital customer journey: customer value is of the utmost importance. These companies will need to make sometimes significant changes to how they understand and approach interactions with customers in order to maintain this value. However, by preparing their customer service teams now with the tools to handle both the multitude of new interaction channels and consumers' changing expectations, they can stay ahead of these changes to keep customers happy and engaged.
Arnab Mishra is VP of business operations for BroadCloud Contact Center Solutions.