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The 3 customer expectations shaping the modern contact center

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The topic of digital transformation is on every executive team’s radar. So how exactly does this trend translate into mission-critical strategies for managing customer expectations?

As George Westerman, MIT principal research scientist and author puts it, “Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes to fundamentally change business performance.”

One opportunity for impactful innovation is the modern contact center. Now more than ever, people have a range of options for engaging with brands, connecting with competitors, and conducting their own research. Every touchpoint in the buyer journey has the potential to leave a lasting impression — with the companies that lead customer loyalty growing revenues at 2.5 times the rate of their industry peers, according to research from Bain & Company in HBR.

The importance of a customer-centric strategy speaks for itself. But the path forward can feel like a tightrope walk due to competing customer service expectations. The following trends can help establish stronger direction.

1. Frictionless customer experiences are non-negotiable

One of the most impactful steps a company can take is to “de-clunk” and “de-clutter” the customer support process. These days, people are time strapped with many competing priorities. It’s no surprise that 92% of consumers, in one poll, shared that they would stop purchasing from a company after three or fewer poor customer service experiences. There simply isn’t enough time in the day for the everyday human being to troubleshoot problems.

Customer experience expert Shep Hyken points to the following tactical areas for strategic leaders to focus, based on his research:

  • Eliminate repeats. Make it easier for customers to share their story once and once only. That means creating a consistent experience across channels.
  • Offer personalization. It’s not enough to deliver good customer service. Customers want to be treated like individuals, not case numbers — one study found, according to Hyken, that 59% of customers say being treated like an individual was more important than the speed of problem revolution.
  • Reconsider interactive voice response (IVR). IVRs are a major source of frustration — 98% of consumers skip it, in fact. Instead, they’re getting past computerized support to converse with live agents.
  • Consistency of answers. It’s important for reps to work together to solve problems and determine optimal paths to resolution. Conversational continuity is a must for follow-up conversations.

Of course, this list does not encompass low-hanging opportunities for saving time and optimizing key metrics such as wait times,  self-service feature utilization, and call to actions that deepen the customer journey.

The key is for customer experience leaders to create a checklist and proactively identify areas for optimization.

2. Customers are protective of their time

These days, everyone is under a lot of pressure and juggling multiple responsibilities. It’s no surprise that 73% of people say their time is the most important thing that companies can and should prioritize.

One opportunity to meet customers where they are, while prioritizing their busy lives, is through live chat. In fact, 75% of people prefer live chat to any other communication channel.

Text-based communication allows customers to multitask, think deeply about their needs, and reduces the potential for miscommunication or cognitive overload.

This low-hanging optimization opportunity has benefits beyond simplifying customer dialogue — live chat also presents data collection opportunities for companies to fortify their customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and fortify programs for personalization.

3. Integrated, omnichannel strategies impact the entire business

Today’s customer experiences are inherently omnichannel. It’s normal for people to engage with companies through various channels including social media, private online communities, email, text message, and of course, via phone.

It’s important to maintain an integrated experience across these channels. A brand may have many touch points as part of its customer experience — the person who navigates a buyer journey is always the same individual.

Keeping this context in mind, the responsibility falls on the brand to weave together these touchpoints into an integrated customer experience that extends across digital and physical channels.

According to research from Adobe, companies with strong omni-channel customer engagement strategies experience 10% annual growth, 10% increases to average order values, and 25% increases to close rates.

Thinking long-term

Today’s technology landscape is evolving quickly, and more people around the world are becoming accustomed to digital workflows. A successful long-term approach to customer success begins with the selection and orchestration of the right tools.

The key is to delight customers at every touchpoint while prioritizing their needs. Over time, fragmented data points have the potential to become stories that can help inform strategies for personalization and continued loyalty-building.

Conversations are the foundation of customer centricity and provide mission-critical pathways for learning about the human experience on the other side of the computer screen.

See how RingCentral’s customer engagement solutions can help you offer a more personalized experience to your customers.

Originally published Jun 08, 2021, updated Dec 30, 2022

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