The last two years have hastened a shift in the types of technologies and channels businesses use to interact with customers, accelerating digitalisation.
In fact, a recent survey from Enghouse found that web chat with a live agent has risen from being used by 31% of businesses before COVID-19 to 55% today, while social media instant messaging is expected to double in usage from 21% at the beginning of 2021 to 42% by 2024. With that, investment in new digital channels is increasing.
Amid this growth in the use of digital channels, businesses must ensure that customer service doesn’t suffer. Adopting more and more digital channels alone is not enough. Instead, businesses must pair this investment in digitalisation with getting closer to the customer and truly understanding their wants and needs to best serve them. So, how exactly should they go about this?
Don’t forget to listen
Whether interacting with customers via chatbot, telephone call or social media, businesses must keep customer engagement front of mind. Obtaining and listening to customer feedback plays a vital role in empowering contact centre agents to consistently deliver the best customer experience. Voice of the customer surveys and customer loyalty schemes are popular methods of obtaining this information, with almost all (96%) organisations claiming to measure the quality of the customer experience they provide. But whichever method they use to collate customer feedback, success in this new world of customer service will hinge on how they use those insights.
A substantial proportion of businesses (90%) currently collect customer data to better understand their customers to deliver a personalised service. Harnessing this information to ensure that they can quickly and effectively resolve customer queries and so that the customer has to expend as little effort as possible will ensure customer engagement remains high.
It’s also important that this level of customer experience remains consistent across all channels. Businesses, therefore, should ensure their agents are able to access all the relevant information about the customer at the click of a button so that they are able to accurately and intelligently respond, no matter how they are interacting with the customer.
Sometimes it takes the human touch
While the use of digital channels is certainly increasing and businesses must digitise to keep pace, they can’t afford to neglect the more traditional channels. Significant numbers of consumers still see telephone calls and web chats with a live agent as the two most successful or reliable channels to get queries solved quickly. As such, the digital channels businesses deliver still need to be balanced with the opportunity for customers with complex or high-value queries, or those who just prefer a more traditional approach, to interact with human advisors.
After all, human advisors can offer something automated channels can’t, for instance, empathy and intuition to get problems resolved and the ability to strike up a rapport with the customer. Consequently, pairing digital channels with those human touchpoints will help businesses to deliver better customer engagement and guarantee that they are able to cater to all customers, whatever their preferred communication method and no matter the complexity of their issue.
Persistence is key
Evolving the mix of channels to incorporate social media instant messaging, for example, will ensure that businesses are able to deliver the more digital experiences that answers customer demand for faster, more efficient interactions. However, that must be coupled with a continued commitment to customer experience and engagement, which will become ever-more critical for businesses as time goes by and new channels emerge.
By listening to customer feedback and using it to understand their wants and needs, what works and what doesn’t, and providing human-agents when needed, businesses will be in a better position to maintain strong customer relations and adapt to the changing requirements of their customers.
With customer experience a key differentiator for businesses, taking this approach will help them to retain lucrative customers and stay ahead of the competition in this new world of customer service.
About the Author
Gary Bennett is VP UKI/MEA/Northern Europe at Enghouse Interactive. Enghouse Interactive delivers technology and expertise to maximize the value of every customer interaction, with products spanning multi-channel call centers, CTI integration, IVR / Self-Service, operator attendant consoles, call recording and quality monitoring, outbound predictive dialer, knowledge management solutions and more. Our comprehensive portfolio of interaction management solutions are resilient, and scalable, with a flexible deployment model that includes Cloud, hosted, and hybrid to grow with your business at every stage, allowing your organization to add functionality when and how you want.
Featured image: ©Metamorworks