How to Adapt to Evolving Customer Expectations

Customer service employee with headsetQuality customer service is an unambiguous expectation from consumers in the digital age. As experiences with Artificial Intelligence (AI) become more commonplace and expand into business communication portals, expectations on our human counterparts also increases. While nothing will ever beat the personal touch of an expert agent, 2020 has highlighted the need for companies to offer multiple customer-contact options to meet ever-evolving consumer expectations.

A Microsoft global customer service report states 54% of consumers have higher customer service expectations than the 12-months prior. In a time of increased social distancing and isolation, customers rely more and more on remote forms of communication and expect their needs to be attended to almost instantly and with a personal touch.

The days of sitting on hold while trying to get through to a company call centre, only for the representative to be unable to assist, are long over. 70% of customers expect a seamless process when reaching out to a business via any of their customer service portals. The types of communication channels used are changing as well; Customer Thermometer collated over 100 customer service statistics, resulting in 65% of people aged 18-34 believing social media is an effective service channel, while Microsoft found 66% of consumers have used at least 3 different communication channels to contact customer service.

Although businesses understand the need to have a smooth, high-functioning customer experience, many small or medium sized organisations lack the resources to offer consumers the service they expect. Cloud-based contact centres excel in meeting this consumer demand, offering a more personalised service across multiple channels, aligning better to customer needs.

How Cloud Contact Centres are Able to Meet Customers’ Expectations

Customisation and Personalisation

Modern consumers expect to be treated like a person, not like a number in a queue or a metric in an algorithm. Salesforce research discovered 33% of customers who abandoned a business relationship cited a lack of personalisation as the main reason, and 84% said that a personalised experience was the key to winning their business.

This type of tailored experience relies on customer service agents having full account histories at their fingertips, allowing them to customise advice without having to go through the frustrating process of the customer repeating themselves or explaining the situation.

Microsoft reported the anticipated level of service, stating 72% of consumers say they expect customer service agents to know who they are, what they have purchased and to have insights into their previous engagements. The integrated interface offered by cloud-based contact centres allows agents to have access to a customer’s complete history, providing them with full context.

This grants the business the added advantage of being able to tailor future communications to clients based on their history, while building rapport, establishing trust and increasing customer loyalty.

Innovation

Modern consumers seek out businesses who offer fresh approaches and innovative solutions to customer service and engagement. This year, organisations who adapted their operations to the new restrictions, flourished, while those who could not pivot or take advantage of current opportunities, struggled.

AI has an increasing role to play in customer experience, with many consumers recognising its importance. It is estimated that 25% of customer interactions will integrate chatbots or virtual customer assistants in 2020.

Businesses that employ this new technology can take advantage of the speed and efficiency offered by AI, through the use of chat functions that provide seamless support for live customer service agents. AI ‘bots’ can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions, freeing agents for more complex interactions. They can improve the quality of live agent interactions by providing context and offering suggestions.

AI is beneficial to both consumers and call centre employees: McKinsey Global Institute summarised a 61% improvement in customer satisfaction in companies that combine AI with human interaction, and agents who work with AI report a 69% improvement in their job satisfaction.

Privacy

In the digital age, consumers are more conscious than ever of online privacy and data protection. A Salesforce study showed that 62% of customers are more afraid of their data being compromised than they were two years ago.

Organisations that fail to provide data security and ensure customer details are kept safe, face negative backlash from consumers and so it is vital that businesses are prepared to provide the level of security that customers expect.

Cloud-based contact centres offer increased data security for both businesses and customers. Secure role-based permissions ensure users see only data they are authorised to see. These measures build trust with consumers, avoiding the common problem of customers feeling uneasy with how companies may use their personal information.

24/7 Accessibility

In the past, consumers only expected to be able to contact a company during business hours. But with the ubiquitous influence of social media and multi-channel contact methods, this expectation has shifted. Today’s consumer expects fast responses to queries: more than half of consumers now expect a customer service response within an hour of placing an inquiry or complaint, no matter what time or day it is.

A cloud-based contact centre can cater to this expectation by offering the flexibility to add agents as needed. Additionally, the remote nature of agents in a cloud contact centre means that agents from different time zones around the world can be employed to ensure 24/7 customer service. This immediacy contributes to positive customer sentiment and improved customer loyalty.

Omni-Channel Experience

Consumers prefer to engage with businesses through a variety of portals: including phone, email, text, social media platforms, chat functionality on company websites, at the least. Microsoft reports 66% of consumers use an average of more than three or more touch-points for contact with their favourite brands.

Cloud contact centres are able to offer customers all these platforms in addition to multi-channel routing and universal queuing. Seamlessly blending interactions from all platforms into a single interface, provides context and clarity, enabling agents to efficiently and effectively resolve customer issues.