Recently, I got the chance to attend the CCA Annual Convention at the Hilton in Glasgow. It was a thoroughly fascinating two-day event in which a whole range of discussions that dealt with issues at the heart of the Call & Contact Centre market were held.
One of the most interesting topics, for me, was the impact of technology and automation on the customer experience. In a service industry, the customer is king and it’s important to ensure that their journey – whether that be a purchase, a complaint or an enquiry – is as seamless as possible. There is no doubt that platforms such as social media are completely re-shaping the way the act of customer service is performed.
Whilst the very heart of good customer service has remained unchanged over centuries – to build good relationships, to offer knowledgeable advice, to be friendly and to encourage repeat business, the advances in technology within the sector has changed the customer’s expectations.
We live in a world where everything can be done in a heartbeat on an app. This has, naturally, made consumers somewhat impatient with anything that cannot be done instantly. In that respect, many businesses have engaged in the use of chat bots in order to “reimagine” the customer experience. These bots can provide answers to basic enquiries and have enough AI to know when to escalate the more difficult request through to a Call Centre operative.
For many consumers, the traditional 9 – 5 routine is a thing of a bygone era, so your brand and service must reflect this. This means being available beyond these peak hours, either via phone or some sort of messenger service. Research has shown that customers are only prepared to wait for ten minutes on hold before they will hang up – and they definitely want to be able to get in touch with a business at hours of their own choosing.
Businesses are leveraging technology for the customer’s advantage – to create a smoother transactional experience whilst still offering a human connection. The most important thing when considering a technology platform is to think about how the UX makes the consumer feel. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been frustrated when we feel like we’ve got nothing more than an automated answer from a company.
Social media messaging, such as via Facebook or Twitter, is also becoming a way in which customers reach out to get their problems solved. These platforms rely on a business replying to any issues quickly as complaints or enquiries are so public and could be detrimental to your brand. Consumers want to feel like – whichever platform they are using and for whatever reason – that there is someone on the other end who cares about their issue … Even if that “someone” is a piece of AI.
Customers who have better satisfaction rates typically demonstrate more brand loyalty – ensuring that good service will lead to repeat business. That’s why it’s so important that, when technology is used, it’s used well and won’t cause unnecessary steps in the customer journey.
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