We’re already well into the holiday season, and along with all the festivities and merriment, many consumers are experiencing the annual stresses of the busiest shopping time of year. Browsing, buying and connecting with customer support can be a time-consuming process, and as a result of the growing availability of digital and mobile technologies, there has been a shifting away from the traditional customer journey towards one that focuses on the online experience.
For example, a recent report by the National Retail Federation found that more than 108 million people did their Black Friday shopping online this year, up 21% from 2014, with mobile shoppers making up well over a third of that number. The proliferation of laptops, smartphones and tablets mean that customers no longer need to brave the weather and crowds to do their holiday shopping, and they can get nearly all of it done without ever stepping foot in a store or interacting with an employee.
Today, we are entering a new Digital Customer Journey, one in which customers prefer to self-serve first via their devices and only turn to calling or direct online interaction with a contact center agent if they can’t resolve an issue on their own. That transition comes in stark contrast to years past, when calling to ask about a new toy or to figure out why the family’s new TV wouldn’t turn on were just another part of the experience. It also brings about several new challenges for companies as they try to understand customer interactions across multiple touch points and channels to improve engagement:
Creating a Uniform Omnichannel Customer Experience
As customers’ options for interacting with businesses continue to multiply, it’s essential to create a seamless omnichannel experience. If consumers prefer to self-serve first, give them the tools to do so by making websites even easier to navigate – and that includes the mobile version as well as the standard site. Develop an easy-to-find FAQ page providing answers to any product or company questions they may have, as well as multiple methods of contacting the customer service team via email, phone, direct message or app. Of course, for the customers that do choose to reach out to the contact center, it is equally important that agents also be trained in all of the available contact channels so that they can respond to any inquiries quickly and efficiently.
Connecting Disparate Data for Analytics
The increase in digital interaction has also led to a significant growth in both the amount and detail of customer data readily available to contact centers. At the same time, customers rarely operate within a single space or even on just one technology. In order to develop a holistic view of who your customer is, their history and the outcomes of any previous interactions with agents, contact centers need to be able to compile data from multiple disparate locations and systems. Contact center analytics simply can’t work when information is kept in silos, and companies will require a solution capable of merging and analyzing data from any available systems if they hope to overcome the potential damage caused by lack of insight into their customer relationships.
Enabling Real-Time Decision Making Capabilities
Finally, the prevalence of digital technologies means that most consumers are able to access the Internet from just about anywhere, and by the time they reach out to agents in the contact center, they have likely already exhausted all readily-available information regarding their issue. Rather than taking the time to run through everything they’ve already searched, customers expect a quick and efficient resolution from an expert with information to which they otherwise would not have access. In order to ensure that these expectations are being met, contact centers need a solution with real-time customer engagement analytics and routing capabilities that can automatically connect the customer with the agent best suited to handling their individual needs.
The transition to the new Digital Customer Journey will require a number of changes to how companies understand and approach interactions with customers. However, by preparing their contact centers now with the tools to handle both the multitude of new interaction channels and customers’ changing expectations, businesses can ensure that they are staying ahead of these changes and keeping customers happy.