2018 Trend 1: Digital Channels Finally Overtake Voice

HGS recently released a white paper on this year’s top 10 trends in customer service. Over the course of the year, we’ll dedicate a blog post to each of these CX game changers. Here, we dissect CX Trend No.10: Digital Assistance—Voice Search, highlighting strategies designed to drive the right answer, fast, for your customers—to ultimately result in a higher CSAT and NPS score for your business.

By Lauren Kindzierski, HGS Vice President, Solutions and Capabilities

This year, we will finally witness the tipping point where digital channels—email, chat, social, text, messaging—overtake voice in the contact center. Mobile driven interaction management —in-app messaging, chat, SMS, and social—have become foundational components of an omnichannel strategy. According to Dimension Data’s global contact center benchmarking report, digital interactions accounted for over 42% of all interactions taking place inside the contact center in the beginning of 2017. At that current rate, digital was expected to overtake voice in 2018. It’s already happening with some of our clients. One consumer packaged goods client being serviced out of the UK receives 71% of all customer interactions from digital channels, and only 29% from voice. Included in these statistics are messaging via What’s App, which currently accounts for approximately 10% of the client’s volume. Instant communication will become the standard for exceptional customer service in 2018. Messaging is the new channel of choice, according to Twilio research, which states 89% of consumers want to use messaging to communicate with a business. There are multiple benefits to messaging such as the ability to send photos or videos between agents and customers, faster and more timely communications, and the ability to stop, start, and continue with the conversation at the customer’s convenience. These channels provide continuous threads of conversation that cater to customers’ preferences, and, as an added bonus, have documented transcripts that can be mined in real-time using text analytics.  

Whether it’s via text message or in-app messaging, today’s CX has to be on the customer’s schedule. Forrester Research indicates that 77% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. This year a smart digital care strategy comprises in-app messaging, chat, SMS, and social and should focus on exceptional, effortless CX.

The proof is in the pudding—as recent CX satisfaction is higher than ever, according to the 2017 Customer Service Barometer. The study, affiliated with American Express, shows U.S. consumers are happier than ever with the service companies provide. In fact, 8 in 10 Americans (81%) report that businesses are meeting or exceeding their service expectations, compared to 67% in 2014. And 40% of consumers say businesses have sharpened focus and attention on service, a significant increase in just three years (up from 29% in 2014). Digital seems to be the driver of this improved experience, as more than six in 10 U.S. consumers say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool such as a website (24%), mobile app (14%), voice response system (13%), or online chat (12%). But there is continued emphasis on digital-voice blended solutions. As issue complexity increases, such as with payment disputes or complaints, customers are more likely to seek out a face-to-face interaction (23%) or a real person on the phone (40%).

The answer for most businesses lies in a blend of digital and voice. A Unified Customer Experience Strategy® brings a balance that leverages the latest digital innovation, while also cost-effectively improving service through conversations that make emotional connections with customers. Increasingly, today’s businesses are turning to BPO partners for help strategizing and delivering the right digital-voice balance.