Do you wish you had a crystal ball that would tell you what 2022 has in store for your contact center? We're not fortune tellers, but we do have plenty of insights about what lies ahead.
We recently wrapped up our Digital CX Week events, during which thought leaders from Forrester and Aberdeen as well as other industry experts shared their predictions for the coming year. The focused theme of the week: what organizations should currently focus on to optimize the customer experience (hint: look beyond the contact center walls and start your engines).
Digital CX Week was such a success that we're sharing the on-demand webinars online. In case you missed it, here are some of the key takeaways from all three webinars.
Future Predictions: Your 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy
Max Ball, Principal Analyst, Forrester
Chris Bauserman, VP of Marketing, NICE CXone
Max Ball, Principal Analyst for Forrester, and Chris Bauserman, VP of Marketing for NICE CXone, discuss trends and technology solutions that contact centers should factor into their 2022 planning.
The expectations of today's digital-first customers have far-reaching impacts on contact center technology, workforce planning, and business priorities. Some of the related trends aren't necessarily new, but factors such as evolving consumer preferences and technology advancements have changed the nature of those trends.
The experts lay out key details during this webinar about the top four trends for digital-first CX strategy, and real-life examples of organizations that are successfully addressing them.
1. Determine where engagement begins
Contact center professionals often think the issue resolution journey begins the moment a customer initiates an interaction with customer service. That's an understandable perspective, but it's also a little shortsighted.
The fact is most people try to find answers themselves before contacting businesses for help. According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, over 80% of consumers first use self-service methods such as search engines and mobile apps to try to solve their issue.[i] And this behavior isn't confined to any specific age—the pandemic only increased the generation less nature of most technology, customer service interactions included.
In order to understand the entire customer resolution journey and fully identify customer needs, businesses need to expand their focus to include what customers do before they reach out to the contact center.
2. Instant gratification is a key differentiator in customer satisfaction
Modern consumers want fast resolutions, so companies need to figure out how to move at the speed of their customers. If organizations don't meet these expectations, there are plenty of other businesses customers can choose from.
But speed alone doesn't make an exceptional experience. Businesses also need to make sure their customer experience contains the three E’s:
- Effective. For contact centers, effectiveness means accurately resolving issues and answering questions, hopefully to the customer's satisfaction.
- Easy. Does your business make it easy for customers to get help? Issues like poorly designed self-service options and long phone queue wait times make it harder for customers and will damage customer effort scores (CES).
- Emotion. Customers don't necessarily want to make agents their best friends, but they at least want to feel like they're talking to a person who cares about and understands their issues. Robotic-sounding scripts should be a thing of the past.
3. Controlling the positives and negatives
Maya Angelou famously said, "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Contact centers should put that quote on their walls where everyone can see it.
If you look at a typical interaction, it has emotional peaks and valleys, plenty of non-emotional moments, and an end, which may also trigger emotions. It's been scientifically proven that people will remember those positive highs and negative lows and how they felt about the ending.
To optimize the customer experience, contact centers should focus on maximizing the positive peaks. Tools such as interaction analytics software can tell contact center leaders how customers felt during interactions, and whether they felt positive, negative, or neutral sentiment at the conclusion of the conversation.
Additionally, real-time interaction guidance solutions empower agents to maximize the positive peaks while interactions are happening. These tools measure customer sentiment and coach agents on soft skills that have been proven to improve customer satisfaction.
You can read more about this concept in the Aberdeen study The ROI of Real-Time Agent Guidance.
4. Agent experience mirrors customer experience
Businesses should care as much about the agent experience as they do about the customer experience. Contact center agents are vital to helping organizations meet their CX goals, so it serves businesses to focus on creating an experience that fosters agent engagement and satisfaction.
Agents are best prepared to deliver loyalty-building experiences in a flexible workforce environment that empowers them to:
- Manage their own time and schedules
- Work securely from anywhere
- Continually grow and develop skills
- Help customers by being prepared
This is the 20,000-foot view of these top 2022 CX trends. Check out the webinar for a closer look at developing your digital-first strategy for the coming year:
Related resource: For more 2022 predictions, read Forrester Predictions 2022 (analyst report).
How Smart Self-Service Improves Digital CX and Lowers Costs
Omer Minkara, VP & Principal Analyst, Aberdeen
Andy Traba, Director of Product Marketing, NICE
Consumer demand for self-service is increasing. In fact, most people prefer to solve their own problems, but many businesses struggle to design effective self-service that satisfies customers and resolves a high rate of interactions.
The effort to get self-service right is worth it. Aberdeen found that organizations that use smart self-service realize 37% greater success in issue resolution than businesses that use traditional self-service. They also enjoy superior CX, drive operational efficiency, reduce costs, and grow revenue. [ii]
But what makes self-service "smart?"
Smart self-service leverages modern technology such as automation and artificial intelligence to personalize customer experiences, increase resolution rates, and continuously improve self-service workflows.
Businesses that use smart self-service realize financial benefits that easily justify the effort and expense associated with implementing it. For example, organizations with smart self-service experienced a 10% year-over-year increase in revenue per contact, which is eight points higher than companies that don't use smart self-service. Additionally, they experienced a 7% improvement in service costs—twice the amount as non-users.[iii]
Just as important as revenue is the impact smart self-service has on CX. Companies that use smart self-service report a 14.6% year-over-year improvement in customer effort scores, and customer satisfaction increased by 11.5%.[iv]
Watch the on-demand webinar "How Smart Self-Service Improves Digital CX and Lowers Costs" for more insights about how smart self-service can transform your CX and your financial results.
Instant Gratification: How to Move at the Speed of Your Customers at Scale
Blake Morgan, CX Futurist
Aaron Rice, VP CXone Expert, NICE CXone
Laura Bassett, Sr. Director Product and Competitive Marketing, NICE CXone
In these digital days when Millennials and Gen Z are driving consumer expectations, "I'll help you in one moment" just isn't good enough anymore. People are used to getting immediate responses from CX-leading companies and now they expect that level of service from every organization they do business with. For businesses, being a leader in CX means harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and automation to truly know customers and proactively identify and address their needs—sometimes before they even realize they have a need.
Watch this webinar to hear what three industry thought leaders have to say about the role instant gratification plays in customer experience.
Gratification = Satisfaction
Not to belabor the impacts of the pandemic, but some new services and even entire businesses emerged due to the lockdowns; most of them focused on speed and convenience. What would we have done without the safety and convenience of curbside grocery and restaurant pickup? But the innovations didn't stop there: Amazon one-upped curbside pickup when the online retailer introduced two-hour delivery. Then, a startup in New York trumped them by offering free, fifteen-minute grocery delivery. That's what instant gratification is all about.
What does this mean for customer expectations? It means that if people now go to a grocery store, walking up and down the aisles to find the items they want and then waiting ten minutes in a checkout line seems old-school. And inconvenient. And slow. In other words: the opposite of instant gratification.
Businesses that did well despite the lockdowns were savvy about identifying and fulfilling consumer needs, especially the need for speed and control. These businesses also made consumers wonder why other companies couldn't keep up. Most people are no longer tolerant of pandemic-related business disruptions.[v] Time is running out for organizations to implement solutions to meet these elevated customer expectations.
Pillars of a great experience
When you dissect what today's consumers want from experiences, you'll find three main components that provide a sturdy foundation for building positive customer sentiment.
- Speed. When instant gratification isn’t possible due to shipping delays or other factors, businesses can provide several “moments of progress” to reassure customers that their needs will be met. For example, for online orders, these moments are often notifications that items have been shipped and delivered, as well as providing easy access to tracking information so customers can check the progress of their orders.
- Asynchrony. Asynchronous interactions empower customers to communicate with businesses on their own terms. For example, companies that offer callbacks to customers waiting in phone queues provide them with choice and convenience.
- Personalization. Personalized interactions require companies to recognize customers in every communication channel and to provide seamless omnichannel experiences. Recognition makes people feel appreciated, especially if it includes personalized offers and recommendations, such as those offered by Netflix.
This summary just scratches the surface. Watch the webinar to also learn about:
- How to create micro-moments of instant gratification that increase loyalty
- Why self-service is the best service
- Next steps contact centers should take to satisfy customers' need for speed
Look into our crystal ball and see what's in store for your contact center in 2022
All three webinars are packed with insights that can help your contact center be successful now and into the future. Watch them today and start planning for tomorrow.
[i] Harvard Business Review: Kickass Customer Service (2017)
[ii] Aberdeen: The Future of Self-Service: How to Drive Innovation to Keep Up with Customer Needs (2021)
[iii] Aberdeen: The ROI of Smart Self-Service (2021)
[iv] Aberdeen: The ROI of Smart Self-Service (2021)
[v] Forrester: Predictions 2022: Customer Experience (2021)