Recent research by Salesforce provides an intriguing insight into the mindset of the modern shopper. In the second edition of its State of the Connected Customer report, the CRM giant discovered that while consumer expectations are higher than ever, their patience with companies failing to deliver is at an all-time low.
In this challenging sales and service environment, the contact center remains a rare constant, continuing to be a crucial part of delivering superior customer support. For this reason, the following eight predictions are based on current CX trends and are designed to help your business anticipate its customers’ needs.
1. Unhappy customers will switch suppliers more freely
New research into serial switchers by NewVoiceMedia reveals that U.S. companies are losing $75 billion a year due to poor customer experiences, a $13 billion increase from 2016. Worse still, many of the reasons causing customers to leave one business for another originate from treatable problems within the contact center.
The research surveyed over 2,000 adults that had left a company in the last 12 months. One in three said they left the company after not being able to speak to a real person. A further 30% blamed being passed around multiple agents, and 28% being put on hold for too long. Conclusion? Failing to fix simple problems will result in more unhappy customers defecting to a competitor they think will do better.
2. Some customers are not ready to sacrifice the human touch for efficiency
The cost-saving benefits of automation, always-on service, and an influx of rich data have made chatbots very popular with businesses. When used for handling complex customer interactions though, the tech leaves a lot of customers feeling more frustrated than satisfied.
Compared to a call with a human agent, bots are a simple computer program that use automation to solve problems. Consequently, they are great at stepping in for humans when dealing with simple, low-level tasks but for situations that require building a rapport, humans still like talking to humans.
3. Voice will help close the gap between sprawling multi-channel operations
Keen to keep up with growing expectations for access, many contact centers have added one self-service technology (SST) on top of another with no larger strategy in mind. This has created sprawling multi-channel operations, where voice has become disconnected from digital channels. When email, social or chat fail, people want to engage with people. In these make-or-break moments, only a cloud contact center with true omni-channel capabilities will ensure the smooth transition from digital channels to voice calls needed.
4. Preserving context between channels will make conversations great
Today’s connected customers demand consistency and hate repeating information. Effective channel escalation management means digital and voice must work together, allowing a human agent to seamlessly pick up from a chatbot, email or message on social.
Routing all communications through one pipe, omni-channel contact centers treat communications across different touch points as one conversation. This means businesses can carry over the context from every previous interaction, customers don’t have to repeat themselves, and conversation flows easier.
5. Contact center agents will handle a larger proportion of emotional enquires
Chatbots can only respond according to their code-based framework. On the other hand, contact center agents have empathy and understand the complexities of human behavior. In emotional situations, they know how to listen, react, and then adapt to come up with a solution. Although chatbots will handle an increasing number of simple requests, calls that reach or get escalated to the contact center will become more complex, take longer to solve, and will require agents that are trained to handle more complex problems.
6. Sentiment analysis will help businesses show customers they care
Sentiment analysis helps businesses to train agents more effectively by providing the means to understand the emotional state of a customer when they call a business. Using AI-based natural language processing, computational linguistics, and text analysis, the tech scrutinizes what is being said plus speaking rate, silences and pitch to reveal how satisfied, unhappy, or stressed customers feel.
Analyzing the data returned, businesses will be able to tailor pre-employment and on-the-job training to prepare agents for the sales and service scenarios they are most likely to face. Whether it’s handling common complaints or building profiles of the types of customer who are likely to switch, sentiment analysis will help identify the emotional triggers that will allow service agents to excel.
7. Intelligent call routing will reduce customer churn
Computers might not be better than us in emotional situations, but they can look up data and crunch numbers a lot quicker. Intelligent, skill-based routing can make millions of fact-based calculations in seconds, examining agents by their strengths, weaknesses, and ability to handle specific types of call. With this data, intelligent call routing transfers customers to the rep that is best suited to solve their problem, not just the next one.
8. Maintaining the human touch will be essential to boosting CX
Chatbots and other self-service technologies should assist humans, not replace them. The predictions outlined above illustrate that automation and AI are great for interactions that require speed and efficiency. However, emotional and technical-based queries are still best handled by a human. As a result, brands need to cater to both types of conversation, blending man and machine to create the full experience customers demand.
Learn more about meeting the biggest customer service challenges facing businesses by reading NewVoiceMedia’s whitepapers. Free to download and packed with insights, you’ll discover how to boost the efficiency and productivity of your contact center in all the key areas.