Consumers aren’t the only ones demanding a higher standard of customer service these days; the White House is demanding it too, and it’s starting to come to fruition.
Last week, President Biden released the FY ’23 budget, which called out that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be granted resources to improve taxpayer experience and expand customer service outreach to underserved communities. This all stems from Biden’s executive order to enhance the federal customer experience, which he signed in December 2021. The directive calls for organizations to deploy technologies that will modernize the delivery of government services, empower government workers to solve problems, and make it easier for citizens to access public services and benefits.
Private sector businesses are also facing a mandate of their own to improve in many of these same areas. In a 2021 consumer survey by Five9, 30% of respondents said they left brands in the past year they’d previously been loyal to, one in four said their contact center experiences have gotten worse since the start of the pandemic, and two out three say they either struggle with finding the information they need to access customer support or can’t find it at all.
What will it take to better meet the expectations of customers today and beyond? A closer look at how CX challenges and opportunities have evolved can help illuminate the path forward.
The Reimagined Consumer
An Accenture study explored how the pandemic has influenced consumer motivations and found that 50% of respondents feel the crisis caused them to re-evaluate their personal priorities. Accenture calls this group “The Reimagined,” noting that the cohort encompasses many different demographics and is applying their new mindset to purchasing decisions.
For example, more than half of the Reimagined say they would leave a brand if it doesn’t provide clear and easy options for contacting customer service, and 72% expect companies to understand and address their changing needs during times of disruption. In other words: Consumers expect more engagement with brands, more personalized attention, and a more proactive approach to customer care.
Meeting these new expectations will not only require companies to support more customer interactions across more touchpoints, but those engagements should also feel effortless and channel-less. And, to ensure that customers feel “seen,” heard and satisfied with the responses they receive, contact centers will need to be deeply integrated with CRM systems, ecommerce platforms, knowledge bases, and other business systems that will allow relevant information and context to flow seamlessly between every customer touchpoint. This will prevent customers from having to re-identify themselves and restate their requests or interaction histories. It will also allow contact centers to anticipate customers’ needs and be more proactive in recommending relevant solutions, services, products, and promotions.
A Metrics Gap
Analytics and customer feedback will also play a key role in winning over the Reimagined consumer. Brands will need to know whether or not their customers can easily find and access customer support channels, and if the experience across those channels feels personalized and efficient. They must also be able to accurately forecast both the human workforce needed to support live interaction channels and the “digital workforce” of Artificial Intelligence technologies that will be needed to support automated self-service.
But new research from Metrigy finds that nearly 75% of organizations suffer from a CX metrics gap. The study revealed that 38% of organizations gather customer feedback and do nothing with it, and another 36% gather feedback and analyze the data but never act on that information. Even worse, 88% of organizations are still using the same KPIs across every channel.
There is a clear opportunity for brands to revamp their CX metrics approach through more effective Voice of the Customer (VoC) strategies. For example, we know that Reimagined consumers expect interactions to feel easy, but only 15% of contact centers actually track Customer Effort Score, according to a 2021 study by Five9 and ICMI. That study also found that only 17% of contact centers currently measure self-service containment, even though 52% of respondents said they expect self-service to have the most significant impact on the customer experience in the next two to three years. Organizations need to start measuring containment to continuously improve these channels.
Methods for gathering key metrics and VoC data include closely monitoring the channels in use; tools to scan, gather, and analyze customer ratings on third-party sites; SMS for quick snap polls; Web analytics tools to track website traffic statistics; and AI-enabled analytics to track call and chat data, customer sentiment, and call or screen recordings. AI and machine learning can be applied to any of these methods to speed up the data analysis. The important thing is for organizations to act on the data they collect, measure the effectiveness of those actions, and commit to a continuous assessment and revision of their CX analytics strategy.
Bad customer service is now a presidential concern, and businesses of all types are facing a reckoning with “Reimagined” consumers who have new priorities for when, where and how they buy. CX leaders can rise to the challenge by reimagining their contact centers to provide the effortless, channel-less, proactive and personalized experiences these consumers now expect, and by recommitting to disciplined metrics strategies that keep customers at the center of everything they do.