Technology is constantly shifting the expectations that individuals have for the way they engage with the world around them. The relationship between a company and customer is no exception. The modern contact center must be constructed with these expectations in the design, given that 76 percent of customers claim they will terminate a business relationship based on a negative experience.
When it comes to meeting customer expectations, these five features must be included in a modern contact center:
In 2017, the contact center industry began experiencing a heightened focus on omni-channel communications, which will only continue to grow. Omni-channel refers to the consumers’ ability to communicate with a business through a variety of different modes or channels. Whether by phone, web chat, email, social media or another medium, the customer expects communication to happen seamlessly depending on their personal preference. Nearly all Americans — 98 percent to be exact, according to Google — switch between multiple devices in the same day. So the ability for them to contact a company and manage a request across multiple platforms is particularly important.
In the age of digitization, the human factor is a priceless differentiator. Chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological advances in communication have made it possible for issues to be resolved without the involvement of human agents. While this is an incredible feat for efficiency and accuracy, it can’t replace the support provided by person-to-person interaction for more complex cases. A 2017 customer experience benchmark study showed that 67 percent of consumers preferred agent-assisted channels. So, in other words, customers still expect a contact center will enable access to human interaction if automation doesn’t readily result in the desired solution.
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Even if it’s just a limited selection of automated options, customers expect to have access to support at all hours of the day. If a banking customer is traveling in a different time zone, the ability to call and check the balance of a credit card or checking account is no longer viewed as a luxury, but an expectation. Offering customer’s access to 24/7 support gives your organization a leg up on the competition and should be considered a priority in the development of any effective contact center.
Reduced Hold Times
Nobody enjoys being put on hold. Period. However, in the contact center industry, we all know that in certain circumstances the dreaded “please hold” is inevitable. For this reason, it’s important to equip call center agents with as many tools as possible to keep hold times short. Giving your agents the power to make a decision is one, perhaps unexpected, way to achieve this. If agents feel empowered to make a decision on their own, as opposed to having to seek advice from others, it often cuts hold times dramatically and give customers the impression that they’re speaking to someone knowledgeable and authoritative. Another method is to instill a culture that puts the customer first. This will eliminate circumstances where the customer is put on hold while agents chat with each other, complete non-priority tasks, etc.
The average attention span of a modern human is less than eight seconds, which makes it incredibly important for contact centers to resolve open tickets quickly and efficiently. As far as resolution goes, a recent survey by ICMI revealed that contact centers may already be on the right track to address current customer expectations by doing a decent job of resolving issue inquiries. For example, the study found that an average of 60 percent of customers indicated first-attempt resolution rates. On the other hand, this has in turn set even higher expectation among customers demanding a quick resolution to their issues upon initial contact with the company. For contact center’s to keep customers satisfied, the need for quick resolution has never been more critical.
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