In 2015, consumers are rapidly embracing digital channels as they reach out to companies for customer service, according to Forrester Research. The study reported that, for the first time, consumers are using company FAQ pages more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Company website FAQ use for customer service increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, while phone interactions remained constant at a 73% usage rate. The research also revealed online chat adoption increased from 43% in 2012 to 58% in 2014.
As the mix of channels shifts, according to the 2014 U.S. Services Consumer Survey conducted by IDC, there is a greater need for balanced capabilities as part of a unified strategy. Customers expect a consistent and personalized interaction experience across multiple touch points . To meet increasing customer expectations, companies need to deploy the right channels enabled by key supporting platforms. Some critical areas are:
- Intuitive Self-Serve Channel—According to the recent IDC survey, consumers researching a new product or service prefer to use web self-service over any other method. Companies should augment online self-service by ensuring that customer searches result in relevant answers for important customer queries. A successful self-serve solution requires ongoing management in terms of listening to consumers and analyzing site usage, and providing feedback for ongoing improvement. This solution should be a source of content, not just text, but also videos, when appropriate. And it also needs to be kept intuitive and easy to use for the target audience.
- Contextual Agent Routing —Interaction resolution with minimum customer effort relies on making the transition from “self-serve” to “agent assistance” seamless and easy. It also requires connecting the consumer with the right agent based on agent skill set and consumer channel choice. This is essential to delivering a speedy, accurate, empathetic, and effective customer experience, regardless of channel.
- Integrated Knowledge Base and CRM System— The right agent empowered with the right information is the key next step in providing the customer with a “consistent and personalized experience.” The aim here is to minimize or eliminate the requirement of consumers to repeat actions they have already undertaken, or repeat information they have already provided. This requires a well-thought-out IT integration strategy for key enterprise systems, such as the knowledge base and CRM system. In addition to providing one view of the consumer, this ensures agents across the enterprise act on the same information.
Optimal cross-channel customer service interaction strengthens back-end services, so that time and effort are taken off repetitive daily tasks. With a proactive unified customer strategy, companies can reduce operational costs while at the same time optimizing revenue, improving CSAT and Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and strengthening brand loyalty. According to a November 2014 Aberdeen Group research study, companies deploying an omni-channel strategy via a single channel strategy have nearly doubled their customer retention rates (13% versus 6.6%) while achieving significant revenue increases.
HGS’s Customer Experience Optimization
According to a survey by Gartner, 89% of today’s business leaders believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016. To support this priority, HGS’s customer interaction services provide seamless customer experiences across channels. Our turnkey customer interaction solutions enable you to integrate voice, digital communication, and mailroom fulfillment. You can engage with customers online through voice channels and provide physical mailings at the right time to bring integration and consistency to previously disjointed customer experiences. Watch our latest video to find out how HGS integrates key channels and engages customers at key moments of truth.